Canada's Gold rush Yallop optimistic, not delusional By JIM MORRIS http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Soccer/Canada/2005/07/06/1120060-cp.html Canadian men's World Cup Team head coach Frank Yallop speaks to the crowd as he takes questions from players and parents following a Skills Camp out at the Edmonton Soccer last summer. (CP PHOTO/Walter Tychnowicz) SEATTLE (CP) - There's a huge gap between being optimistic and delusional. When it comes to the Gold Cup, national soccer team coach Frank Yallop has very lucid expectations for his side. For Yallop the 12-team tournament for the championship of CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, is another study session. It gives him a chance to evaluate the talent available to him while affording the players an opportunity to prove themselves to their coach. Canada plays Costa Rica on Thursday at Qwest Field in the opening game of Group B play. A win would be a huge confidence boost for Yallop's young team and would greatly enhance their chance of advancing to the next round. But Yallop knows the true test for the national team will come in 2008 when Canada begins qualification games for the 2010 World Cup. "If I put pressure on myself to get results at this point I'd be crazy," Yallop said Wednesday after practice on a pristine grass field in the shadows of Huskie Stadium at the University of Washington. "Right now it doesn't mean anything. It might mean sacrificing results at this point to get the experience and be ready to play (qualifying) games." That doesn't mean Yallop, who took over as national team coach in December 2003 after the departure of hardnosed Holger Osieck, will treat the Gold Cup like a meaningless NHL exhibition game. Canada faces the powerful Americans on Saturday before a partisan crowd at Qwest, the home of the NFL Seattle Seahawks. Losing to Costa Rica would dig a hole. To then be beaten by the Americans could bury Canada. "The first game is important," said Yallop. "What you don't want to do is lose. Then you have to go into the game Saturday looking for something. We want to come out strong and get ahead." Yallop wants to develop a winning attitude on the team. He wants a side that will go into the next World Cup qualifying round able to play a solid 90 minutes with sound defence and the ability to convert its scoring chances. He knows that takes time and patience. That's why he's assembled a 19-man roster with 13 players who have played nine or less international games for the national team. "We have to make sure we're building the program, that each player is getting better each time they are playing for Canada," Yallop said. "Yes, we want to win the tournament. We want to go into the game feeling we have a good side." Canada, which failed to qualify for next year's World Cup in Germany, is currently ranked No. 85 in the world, one spot ahead of Albania. Costa Rica is ranked 24th and the Americans 10th. Canada wraps up the preliminary round Tuesday against No. 70 Cuba at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. "On paper we're the worst team," Yallop said. "We don't feel that. We feel we can get a good result in any of the games we play." Costa Rica - which beat Canada twice in World Cup qualifying play last year - will be without strikers Paulo Wanchope and Ronald Gomez and defender Gilbert Martinez. Midfielder Atiba Hutchinson said the Canadians must keep their poise against Costa Rica. "They are well organized and are good with the ball," said Hutchinson, a native of Brampton, Ont., who plays for Helsingborg, of the Swedish Premier League. "We have to be well organized and disciplined. The last couple of games we played we've been a little bit unorganized with the counterattacks." What Yallop doesn't want is a repeat of Saturday's friendly against Honduras. Canada dominated for 50 minutes, then gave up a two quick goals on defensive lapses and lost 2-1. "We've given a lot of soft goals away," said Yallop. "We've played well in spells in matches but never have been able to put in a full 90 minutes."