Patrice Bernier named to Team Canada soccer squad
Montreal Impact's Patrice Bernier, right, is challenged by San Jose Earthquakes' Jason Hernandez during second half MLS soccer action in Montreal, Saturday, August 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Published Thursday, August 30, 2012 5:05PM EDT
Patrice Bernier’s absence from Canada’s national team was short lived. The Montreal-born Impact attacker had been left off the squad in June, but his recent sparkling play with the Impact has not gone unrewarded.
Canada's soccer team coach Stephen Hart has named Bernier, 32, to the veteran-laden squad for the next World Cup qualifiers.
Bernier who scored two goals in his last game for the MLS Impact, should be seeing action on the pitch in an upcoming qualifying series against Panama.
Bernier, like all of the players on the national team, has experience in World Cup qualifiers.
"I tried as much as possible to go with the players that are playing (with their club teams) and look to where we may need the most reinforcement and just go from there," said Stephen Hart on a conference call with reporters.
Canada opens a two-game, total-goals series against Panama at BMO Field in Toronto on Sept. 7. The return match takes place in Panama City on Sept. 11.
The 21-player list includes MLS veterans Dwayne DeRosario of D.C. United, Julian de Guzman of FC Dallas and Terry Dunfield of Toronto FC.
Goalkeeper Lars Hirschfield of Edmonton, currently playing in Norway, is expected to start both games against Panama.
For the Trinidad and Tobago match, Hart had called up some young players with Canada's under-23 team, including Lucas Cavallini, who is playing in Uruguay, and Russell Teibert of the Vancouver Whitecaps. For the games that count, the coach decided to stick with experience.
"When you go through the exhibition games, you're always experimenting (and) working on things," said Hart. "You have some sort of theme that you want the players to focus on. But when you get into the competitive phase of the games, you're playing to win and trying to put everything that you've done together."
Canada is looking to build on a road win over Cuba and a draw with Honduras in June. After two of three rounds, Panama leads the four-team group with six points followed by Canada with four points. Honduras (one point) and Cuba (no points) are third and fourth, respectively. The top two teams qualify for the 2013 CONCACAF zone finals.
In previous games, said Hart, players showed good spirit and attitude while appearing more comfortable with their roles in the team as well as in their competition for spots in the squad.
"If I look at the games we've played, we've played with a lot of discipline," said Hart. "We've created a number of chances during the game and off the set pieces. It's just a matter of finishing off that sort of end-of-the-game. And I have no doubt that that will come."
Canada has not qualified for the World Cup since 1986. Hart is urging his players to focus on short-term goals rather than the big picture.
-With a file from The Canadian Press