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Canada versus Costa Rica may not be as intriguing as watching Spain face Germany or Brazil take on Argentina, but there will be plenty to watch for when these countries meet in an international friendly on Tuesday night.
Canada will trot out a young squad looking to prep for this summer's Gold Cup, while Costa Rica is vying to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
Both of these teams will have somewhat limited rosters for this friendly, however. Canada will be without Dwayne De Rosario, Dejan Jakovic, Kyle Porter and Will Johnson, as their MLS clubs wouldn't release them for the game, while Costa Rica will be without their top players as World Cup qualifiers are just around the corner.
Still, this will be a good chance for fans of both countries to see some of their younger players in action. Let's preview this international friendly.
When: Tuesday, May 28, at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, Canada
Watch: SportsNet (Canada)
What They're Saying
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Canada will come into this game with an eye toward the future. Is interim head coach Colin Miller the man to lead Canada into the future? Can this young squad come together and play well despite a tough test against Costa Rica?
Most importantly, will the team hit this summer's Gold Cup with positive momentum?
The Canadian Press addressed that latter point in a recent article via CBC Sports:
While Canada's World Cup hopes were dashed last year, the national team is still preparing for this summer's Gold Cup tournament, hosted by the United States. Canada is still looking for its first win in 2013 after trying once and losing three times in four previous friendlies this year.
"It's going to be a very interesting summer," said midfielder Julian de Guzman, one of a handful of holdovers from the squad that was embarrassed 8-1 by Honduras in October, a defeat that dashed Canada's World Cup hopes.
"It's a chance for a lot of the guys to showcase themselves to see if they have a chance to actually be in the final squad for the Gold Cup," said de Guzman. "The week's been pretty solid—a lot of positive notes coming up from the young guys and this is a great test for the squad."
Canada Player to Watch: Julian de Guzman
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Two things are clear about this Canada squad—they are very young and they are at their strongest defensively, with options on the back line that include Nik Ledgerwood, Andre Hainault, Ashtone Morgan, Doneil Henry and Adam Straith.
Thus, the most important player for the team will be De Guzman.
Not only will the team count on his leadership and experience, but he'll also need to be the linking force between the defense and the offense when Canada moves on to the attack.
If De Guzman can win the ball back in the midfield and provide consistent, accurate service for the forward and wingers, Canada should be very competitive in this game.
Costa Rica Player to Watch: Jairo Arrieta
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On a Costa Rican side devoid of some of its best players, the Columbus Crew man will need to be a positive force in the attack.
The striker isn't having his best season to record thus far, with just one goal and two assists in nine appearances for the Crew this season. He's off his positive scoring pace from last year after he tallied nine goals and four assists in 18 starts for the team.
This is an excellent opportunity for Arrieta to prove he deserves a place on the Gold Cup squad. Expect him to take advantage of that opportunity and play well.
Which team wins this friendly?
With neither team boasting its ideal roster, it's tough to predict how this game will play out. Canada's home-field advantage and a slew of youngsters trying to prove their worth ahead of the Gold Cup makes me think this will be a competitive match, however. In the end, look for the two sides to draw, 1-1.