Even though Canada's youthful squad got demolished in one game and failed to score in either, the January friendlies produced some positives going forward.Well, those games went just about as one would expect.
Canada's just-completed pair of January friendlies against Denmark and the United States were scrappy, raw, and a little tough to watch at times, which is exactly how one would describe nearly each and every player on the makeshift squad.
After getting schooled by Denmark to the tune of 4-0, the young Canucks tightened up at the back and thoroughly frustrated the Americans on Tuesday night, grinding out a scoreless draw in Houston and providing a much-needed shot of confidence for the rebuilding program.
The kids may not be alright just yet, but there's hope in the air.
Everyone knows the negatives (team couldn't score, defending was atrocious vs. Denmark, etc.), but there were some positives the Canadian players and staff can take going forward. Here's three that stood out:
1. Kyle Bekker is the real deal
It was only two games against a couple of 'B' international sides, and as a rookie he'll likely suffer from inconsistency in a long season, but the Toronto FC draftee continued his sterling form from the MLS Combine and looked comfortable with the step up in competition.
Bekker was a key link in the Canadian midfield, and he particularly showed promise when sending searching passes all over the pitch.
2. The back line bounced back
After a horrendous display in the opening half versus Denmark, the Canadian defence showed its ability to shake off a bad day at the office and reorganize against arguably a tougher opponent in the U.S.
In particular, Dejan Jakovic and Doneil Henry showed that -- when on form -- they can handle the best attacking talent that MLS has to offer. Chris Wondolowski and Eddie Johnson, who combined for 41 regular season MLS goals last year, were completely ineffective against the steadfast Canadian back line.
3. DeRo's still got it
Despite all the talk of the U.S. fielding an 'MLS All-Star' team, it was Canada's most successful player from that circuit that stood out as the most threatening player on the pitch on Tuesday.
Dwayne De Rosario has sometimes drawn ciriticism for not translating his massive MLS achievements to the international stage -- despite being the national team's all-time leading scorer -- but he embraced his new leadership role in the two friendlies, and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future.