Tosaint Ricketts certainly didn’t look like an unemployed soccer player.
Ricketts, who has at home in Edmonton while a legal tussle with his former club in Romania has prevented him from finding new employment scored the winner on Wednesday as Canada picked up a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago in an international friendly.
“It was tough coming in,” said Ricketts, whose goal was the third of his career for Canada. “I’m kind of out of a club right now so the situation’s not so good for me.
“I came in with a positive attitude and a positive mentality and I wanted to work and get this game in and get this result and I think we did that and we did well.”
Will Johnson added a late goal from the penalty spot as Canada easily could have put two or three more goals past Trinidad in a second half where the Canadians outplayed their Caribbean opponents.
“I was pleased with everything in the second half,” said Stephen Hart. Usually expressionless on the sidelines, Hart even cracked a rare grin after the second goal went in. “We defended well, we came up with the ball, we counter-attacked and we built attacks very well.”
Canada dominated throughout the match but had to wait until the 57th minute when substitute Marcel De Jong crossed a ball in from the left side that Ricketts controlled on the right side of Trinidad’s 18-yard box.
Ricketts capitalized on some poor marking as he had plenty of time to take the ball down, turn and line up a shot that tucked in under the crossbar.
De Jong was particularly impressive considering it was his first game back with the national team in over a year a lost year when he was sidelined by a series of injuries.
“He wanted to perform, he desperately wants to be back in the squad—it’s been over a year,” said Hart of De Jong. “I think we’re reaching a stage where we can’t have any complacency. There’s a lot of competition for places.”
As Canada dominated that second half, most of their offence came from the left side of the field as parts of the right side had very little grass since most of the time the surface is used for cricket.
With the temperature around 30 degrees at kickoff and humid, the play was lethargic for long periods in the game.
“It was hot which was probably why it wasn’t sharp in the final third as we’d like it to be. We didn’t give away too many chances — another zero,” said Johnson.
It was Canada’s third consecutive shutout.
“It’s a great shutout streak for us,” said Johnson. “We’ll win a lot of games from good defence so obviously we would have liked to bang a few more in but overall I don’t think we can be too disappointed with the result.”
Canada got a great start as Ricketts had a chance in the fifth minute as his tight angle shot gave Trinidad goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams some trouble.
Williams couldn’t hold the shot and the rebound bounced up for Toronto FC midfielder Terry Dunfield. Dunfield’s header was caught and held by Williams.
With 10 minutes remaining in the half, the ever-elusive Ricketts had another chance. Despite having two Trinidad defenders virtually on his back, Ricketts created space and unleashed a powerful shot that unfortunately for Canada came rattling back off the post.
Even if he’s unable to find a club in the next few weeks, Canada is back in action in a little over three weeks.
“I’ve just got to be patient and wait. It’s a process going through FIFA and all this stuff with the club,” said Ricketts. “I’m positive and my agent’s positive that it’s going to happen pretty soon and I’ll become and I’ll be looking to find a club after that.”
Just two minutes after Ricketts’ goal, Canada had to defend for virtually the first time of the night. After a scramble in the box, Trinidad forward Kevin Molino took a low shot from 12 yards out but Houston Dynamo defender Andre Hainault was there to block the goal-bound shot.
Canada resumes its World Cup qualifying campaign next month with two games against Panama. They’ll play Panama first at BMO Field in Toronto on Sept. 7 before playing in Panama four days later.
Panama currently leads the group with six points after two games. Canada’s in second with four points. The group also includes Cuba and Honduras. The top two teams advance to the final round of qualifying that takes place next year.