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C’mon, Canada ... you can do it! World Cup qualifying encouragement for our northern neighbors

Canada's head coach Hart talks to his player de Guzman before their international friendly soccer match against U.S. in Toronto

Canada’s head coach Stephen Hart talks to his player Julian de Guzman (L) before their international friendly soccer match against the U.S. in Toronto June 3, 2012. REUTERS/ Mike Cassese (CANADA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)


Recognizing that our friends from Panama and Honduras, including quite a few who make a living in MLS, will disagree, I would love to see Canada move into final stage World Cup qualifying.

That would come at the expense of Panama or Honduras; Cuba has been eliminated, leaving three nations competing for two available final round berths from Group C.

It’s 100 percent selfish, seen from an American point of view. But for me, the final round is more interesting is the Canadians are involved. And possibly a little more forgiving, too.

Given the nations’ familiarity and the similarities of the lands, matches in Canada figure to be a little less tricky and less perilous than matches in Central American or the Caribbean. Suffice to say, a trip into Toronto doesn’t pose some of the same challenges as a trip into Panama City or the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa.

So, it probably benefits the United States from a competitive standpoint.

Also, two final-round matches between the North American neighbors could help gin up interest on both sides of the border, I think.

Of course, this pro-Canadian sentiment might fall under “be careful what you wish for.” Because myself and others have long seen Canada as something of a sleeping “big person.” That is, just this side of a “sleeping giant,” perhaps, but certainly a nation that could do more in its international soccer endeavors.

The Canadians qualified for World Cup 1986, its first and last appearance. So, getting into the final round and, even more, finally breaking through and reaching another World Cup, could light a new fire in our northern neighbors, inspiring the Canadians to push for even more. That would pitch one more obstacle before the United States in its future qualification efforts.

Either way, Canada’s push to reach the so-called “hexagonal,” the final round of CONCACAF regional qualifying, is on the line tonight in Toronto.

Nothing less than three points will do against the weaklings of the group, Cuba. Here are the current Group C standings:


Group C standings