International Friendly

Canada 1, Guatemala 0 | International Friendly Recap

After a painful rebuilding process, Canada appear to be rounding into form at exactly the right time.

Benito Floro’s side picked up their first win of 2015 on Friday, a 1-0 decision over Guatemala in a friendly at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The win is just Canada’s second since October 2012 but follows on the heels of a win over Jamaica last September and promising performances against Colombia, Panama and Iceland.

Marcus Haber notched the game’s only goal in the 11th minute, getting free in the Guatemalan area and powerfully heading home a Kyle Bekker corner kick. Canada nearly doubled the advantage a few minutes later when Julian de Guzman – who was announced as the newest member of the NASL’s Ottawa Fury FC earlier in the day – cracked a 20-yard volley just wide.

Canada took advantage of a strong tailwind in the first half to hold possession for long stretches, but they couldn’t create many dangerous opportunities. Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan was called into action in the 33rd minute, getting a hand to a Guatemalan free kick and pushing it wide.

While the opening half didn’t provide a surplus of attacking action, there were some memorable moments – Guatemala was forced into a goalkeeper substitution due to an injury to starter Juan Paredes and also had a member of their coaching staff sent off by the referee due to excessive dissent.

Things looked dicey for Canada in the early going of the second half, with quick yellow cards shown to Haber and defender David Edgar. Guatemala later brought on the legendary Carlos Ruiz (making his 110th appearance for his country), in search of an equalizer.

And the Central Americans came close on a pair of occasions, first ringing a shot off Borjan’s post in the 73rd minute (just moments after Haber had seemingly been taken down in Guatemala’s area, with no penalty given). Then, with just minutes left in the 90, Seattle Sounders midfielder Marco Pappa cracked a long-range effort off the Canadian crossbar.

Ultimately, an experienced Canadian backline held firm to give Canada a much-needed boost ahead of some massive games in 2015.

Canada will look to gain even more momentum in Puerto Rico on Monday, in their final match before their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign begins in June. Canada will play a home-and-away against either Dominica or the British Virgin Islands. Dominica won 3-2 in the first leg of that tie on Thursday, with the second leg coming on Sunday.

Canada is also preparing for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, where a spot in the 2016 Copa America Centenario will be on the line.

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