The Canadian men’s soccer team is still looking for an elusive win, but for now a pair of draws against European opponents is progress enough for head coach Benito Floro.
Canada played to its second-straight 1-1 draw Tuesday, coming from behind to tie Moldova in a friendly. Canada also tied Bulgaria 1-1 in a friendly last week.
Tuesday’s result means Canada’s 16-game winless streak that dates back to October 2012 remains intact as the team still searches for its first win in seven games under Floro’s leadership.
Still, Floro said he was pleased with aspects of Canada’s game.
“I am happy because the team is progressing, and the players are happy because they can see the progress,” he said. “For us it isn’t important to be looking at the results right now, that will take time.”
Things got off to poor start for Canada when Moldova’s Eugeniu Sidorenco, left unmarked in the penalty area, nodded the ball past Canadian goalie Milan Borjan in the seventh minute.
The goal came from what was seemingly a non-threatening position for Moldova, but the Canadian pairing of Adam Straith and Andre Hainault in central defence allowed Sidorenco too much space in front of the goal.
With Canada having only scored one goal in the last 14 months, it looked early on as if it could be a long evening in the Austrian rain for Floro’s side. But striker Tosaint Ricketts found himself in the right place at the right time to tie the game just two minutes later.
Pedro Pacheco floated a corner to the back post where Hainault rose the highest to nod it back in front of the goal to Ricketts, who kicked it home from five yards out.
“It always feels great to score for your country,” Ricketts said. “Floro has been driving home tactical set-pieces and corners and we executed well.”
The game then settled and it wasn’t until Atiba Hutchinson hit the crossbar late in the first half that either team came close to scoring again.
Canadian right-back Nik Ledgerwood curled a bending free kick towards the back post where Hutchinson used his thigh to nudge a shot toward the goal, but it hit the top of the bar.
Following the halftime break it was Canada who asserted the control of the game, stringing together some tidy possession without ever really threatening to penetrate the well-organized Moldovan defence.
The Moldovans produced the best two chances of the second half on the counter-attack.
Alexandru Antoniuc forced a big save from Borjan with a firm drive midway through the second half, before Eugeniu Cebotaru fired a dangerous shot just wide of the left post from 22 yards.
Despite dominating possession throughout the final stage of the game, Canada was unable to carve out a clear-cut opportunity.
Addressing Canada’s long-standing offensive woes, Floro said he is on the hunt for fresh attacking talent.
“We have to find a away to keep creating more chances and we will continue looking for another striker who can come in and help Ricketts and Simeon Jackson,” Floro said.
Canada is ranked 110th in the world to Moldova’s 99th.
Canada had been looking to notch its first win since a 3-0 win over Cuba towards the end of its futile World Cup Qualifying campaign in October 2012.
The Canadian team will now disband for the summer ahead of its return to home turf for September’s friendly against Jamaica at BMO Field in Toronto.