Makeshift Canada squad ready for Costa Rican test

Players have arrived in stages ahead of Canada's friendly against Costa Rica on Tuesday. While not ideal, interim coach Colin Miller says the team will be ready.
EDMONTON, Alberta -- When Canada takes to the field on Tuesday night against Costa Rica, it will be heading into a game after not having taken part in any training sessions with the entire squad together.

While the Canadians did have the majority of the squad in camp as they trained on Monday morning at Commonwealth Stadium, their numbers will still be incomplete until Edmonton native Tosaint Ricketts arrives Monday evening.

“It’s not ideal preparation national team-wise for sure, because the guys have come in dribs and drabs,” interim head coach Colin Miller said after Monday's practice. “Four of the TFC guys arrived yesterday, and this is their first training session, but the attitude is great.”

Compared to when Miller was in charge of the team in January, he has a squad of players who are either in the middle of their respective seasons or have just finished them. In his previous stint in charge, the Canadian team was made up of players still in their off-seasons or looking for clubs.

As a result, the training sessions have looked much more polished than in January. That being said, it’s still a largely inexperienced squad that’s only had four days of work.

“We’re not going to make them fitter over a three or four-day period, so now it’s just a case of getting our defensive principles correct so the guys know what their roles are as soon as our team loses possession of the ball,” said Miller. "Set pieces become very important at this stage, so we give them enough information to not overload them and hopefully expect a good performance.”

With the Gold Cup just five weeks away, performance, rather than results, is what matters, and Miller was first to say that win, lose or draw he wants to see a team that doesn’t allow any easy goals and fights to the last.

Many of these players are fighting for Gold Cup roster spots and are also looking to impress potential club suitors. Randy Edwini-Bonsu said on Sunday that this summer is “the most important of his career,” so while it may be a friendly, there’s no shortage of motivation on the Canadian side.

With this expected to be the final audition before a Gold Cup squad is finalized, there’s a lot riding on this one game for the majority of the team.

“It’s going to be a very interesting summer,” said Julian de Guzman. “The week’s been pretty solid, a lot of positive notes coming up from the young guys, and this is a great test for the squad.”