Canada finally broke out of its troubling goal-scoring drought, and it was only fitting that Dwayne De Rosario was a big part of the resurgent offence.
No one has been better at scoring goals for Canada's senior men's team than De Rosario. The 33 year old from Toronto tied Dale Mitchell's Canadian record with his 19th international goal, and Canada completed its second round of World Cup qualifying undefeated with a 4-0 win over St. Kitts and Nevis at BMO Field.
Canada won the group with 4-0-2 record. The Canadians went into Tuesday's game already assured of their place in the next round of the World Cup qualifying that will begin next June.
“It's definitely a great feeling to be up there with a guy like Dale Mitchell, a guy who has contributed a lot to Canadian soccer,” De Rosario said. “To be on the same line as gentleman like him, it's a great feeling and I'm very pleased not only for myself but also for my family as well.”
Canada qualified to go on to the next round of World Cup qualifying with last Friday's 0-0 draw in an away game at St. Kitts — but that was considered a poor result and the goals weren't coming. The Friday disappointment followed a 0-0 draw at BMO Field against Puerto Rico on Oct. 11.
Those disappointing games gave Canada some incentive.
“We wanted to go out and prove that a team from Canada could perform well,” De Rosario said. “And in fact we were able to do that tonight and finish our chances and our fans went home with a smile on their face.”
Looking for a better offensive performance, Canada ended its goal drought in the 27th minute when Olivier Occean scored. It was a play started by De Rosario's corner kick that was corralled by Will Johnson, who found Occean in front of the goal.
De Rosario kept the scoring going in the 36th minute on a penalty as Canada scored three first-half goals. The penalty was awarded after Errol O'Loughlin brought down Tosaint Ricketts on the right side of the area.
The past four of De Rosario's goals for Canada have come on penalties.
“Pretty much that's the real chances I've been getting,” he said. “I had one or two good chances tonight but you know I've got to take them however they come.”
He has scored six times for Canada on penalties.
Simpson made it 3-0 in first-half stoppage time, with an assist by Johnson. Ricketts, who was a threat most of the game on the right side in a rare start, completed the scoring in the 88th minute.
“I think a number of things happened,” head coach Stephen Hart said. “Ricketts on the right sort of stretched them a lot, gave room to the midfield so we could pass the ball better.”
Hart said the team's mind set was better than on Friday.
“Our mentality right from the kickoff was to put them under pressure,” Hart said. “Try to create the opportunities and be more composed in front of net. We got the goals and could have had a lot more. But I'm glad the chances are coming.”
Hart said Ricketts deserved a chance to start “to see how he responds, and he was fantastic.”
St. Kitts actually had the best chance to score in the opening 15 minutes as George Isaac rattled a shot off the left post with Canadian goalkeeper Kenny Stamatopoulos having no chance.
But from then, Canada controlled the game as Ricketts made frequent runs dangerous runs down the right side. About 20 minutes into the game, he hammered a shot wide and he set up a couple of other near misses.
Only the pool winner advanced in this round of qualifying for the CONCACAF region, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The Canadians join Honduras, Cuba and Panama in the next round that will be played from June 8 through Oct. 16. The top two teams in that pool will advance to the final round of qualifying. Three CONCACAF teams will qualify directly for the World Cup, while another will have a chance at qualifying through a playoff.
Canada has had five consecutive shutouts to equal a national team record set in 1996. But it will be more difficult in the next round.
“It's going to be a lot more intense, a lot more difficult,” De Rosario said. “We've got to be mentally and physically prepared.”
Notes: Attendance was announced as 10,235. ... Toronto FC left back Ashtone Morgan had his first start for Canada in the game and did well. The 20-year-old appeared as a substitute in one other game for the national side. ...The Canadian players wore black arm bands in honour of Hart's father, who died recently in Trinidad. ... Canada's first match in the next round is June 8 against Cuba with the next game against Honduras on June 12.