International round-up

DeRo, Canada can clinch passage to CONCACAF’s final round

With another key round of World Cup qualifiers looming Tuesday night, we check in on D.C. United’s senior internationals.
 
Dwayne De Rosario (Canada @ Panama 8:00 p.m.)
 
D.C.’s captain made a bit of history on Friday when he scored his twentieth career goal in a 1-0 win over Panama.  The strike made DeRo Canada’s all-time leading scorer, and put Stephen Hart’s side atop CONCACAF’s Group C.  Tuesday’s return match in Panama City could be the deciding factor if Canada is to reach the final round of regional qualifying for the first time since 1998.
 
Dejan Jakovic (Canada @ Panama 8:00 p.m.)
 
With MLS-ers Andre Hainault and Ante Jazic leading the way, Canada’s defense is on a roll.  Les Rouges have yet to concede a goal in this qualifying round, making any changes at the back highly unlikely.  Still, Jakovic’s versatility makes him a valuable asset to coach Stephen Hart. As he has shown with D.C., Jakovic can play inside or outside back – and he teamed well with Canadian captain Kevin McKenna in central defense during the 2009 Gold Cup.
 
Hamdi Salihi (Albania @ Switzerland 2:30)
 
After a 3-1 win in Cyprus on Friday, Albania suddenly looks like a side that has a real shot at advancing out of Europe’s Group E.  Salihi started against Cyprus, and played 82 minutes before being replaced by Edgar Cani.  Switzerland is a prime candidate to win the group, so any type of result in Lucerne would be a major coup for the upstart Albanians.    
 
More on Canada…
 
Few ex-players have a better perspective on Canada’s hopeful start to this qualifying round that D.C. United assistant coach Pat Onstad.  The former Canadian goalkeeper made 57 appearances with his national team over three decades, and believes Les Rouges have a legit chance to reach the World Cup finals for the first time since 1986.
 
“We are at a tipping point,” Onstad said Monday.  “This generation of players has had some success at the international level and youth [levels] growing up.  They are definitely all now in their prime, and hopefully those guys can carry Canada forward.  There is a lot of pressure on them.”
 
Canada’s golden generation can take a major step with a win in Panama on Tuesday.  A victory, coupled with Cuba winning or drawing against Honduras, would send Canada through to CONCACAF’s final round.