It’s been almost a month since Canada was eliminated from the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup at the Group Stage. In many ways, Canada’s performance at the tournament was a letdown for a side that had previously been unbeaten against CONCACAF opposition under Spanish Head Coach Benito Floro.
According to veteran Canadian fullback Marcel de Jong, the Canadian team is now itching to get back into action and redeem itself after an underwhelming run at the Gold Cup, starting with the squad’s two World Cup qualifying matches against Belize in early September.
“I think are looking forward to a bit of revenge after exiting the Gold Cup early,” De Jong told RedNation. “I think we are very motivated to show that we are country that should be taken seriously.”
In the estimation of the 28 year old Newmarket, Ontario born defender, even with its elimination at the Group Stage at the Gold Cup, there were still positives that the Canadian team can take from the tournament as it looks to continue its run in the qualification process for 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“I think we learned a lot of things (at the Gold Cup),” De Jong explained. “We showed everyone that we are a tough team to beat. Defensively everything was pretty organized, from the back up to the offensive players also doing the defensive work. Everything was very organized and every player knew what to do and what to expect.”
“Of course it is tough when you don’t score a goal and don’t go through to the next round,” De Jong added. “I think our play deserved at least one more game in the Gold Cup. If we had score one or two goals or if Jamaica had not scored in the final seconds, we would have gone through to the next round.”
As Canada looks to continue its progression as a team under Floro, in many ways the biggest challenge the team faces is one of the challenges it has historically faced: scoring goals.
Even with Canada’s barren run at the Gold Cup, the veteran of the German Bundesliga and Dutch Eredivisie is confident that Canada has the players to put the ball in the back of the opposition net and get Canada over the hump.
“We have complete confidence in our strikers,” De Jong said. “For example, Cyle Larin has been doing a great job for Orlando and scoring regularly. So it was maybe a case of being a bit unlucky at the Gold Cup.”
“I think we have a bright future ahead of us,” he added. “We have a number of young players who are really knocking on the door and stepping up. Benito is very good, smart coach and he knows what our strengths are and the areas that aren’t our strengths. He works from there and he is very organized and detail oriented.”
With De Jong now playing his club football in North America with Major League Soccer side Sporting Kansas City, the Canadian National Team veteran now finds himself situated for the first time on the continent on which Canada plays all of its competitive matches.
De Jong was open in admitting that the change has presented both positives and negatives with respect to his participation with the Canadian National Team program.
“Of course it was nice being here when the Gold Cup was happening,” De Jong said. “But I’m still getting used to the fact that we don’t have International breaks over here and the league just keeps on playing. It’s very different in Europe in that regard. However, the travel is certainly easier being here.”
Outside of International football, De Jong is currently continuing his transition at the club level as a player making the leap from Europe to North America and Major League Soccer.
“It’s been pretty good,” De Jong said. “Of course it is a big change to move from Europe to MLS. My family is happy and we like it here. (Peter Vermes) is a good coach and he knows what he wants and he is pretty straightforward, which is something I like. Obviously, he is doing a good job here right now and I like his approach.”
The Canada’s Men’s National Team will take on Belize in a home-and-away series in the Third Round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, with matches on Friday, September 4th at BMO Field in Toronto and the return leg in Belize on Tuesday September 8th.