HOUSTON – A week ago, Pat Onstad faced off against Lionel Messi and Argentina in Buenos Aires. When he returned, he talked about becoming the all-time leader in caps for a goalkeeper in the history of Canadian soccer, the state of soccer in Canada and his international career.
MLSsoccer.com: How was the experience against Argentina?
Onstad: It was a good experience. The result was pretty disappointing and the performance overall—we didn’t play that well, and unfortunately when you don’t play well against a team like that, they punish you. That was the lesson we learned. We can’t afford to make mistakes at that level.
MLSsoccer.com: How was River Plate’s stadium and the atmosphere?
Onstad: It wasn’t a hostile environment. We’ve been in much more hostile environments. Argentina was celebrating their 200-year anniversary of separating from Spain so it was their bicentennial and they had half a million people coming downtown every day for four straight days. The game itself was really more of a celebration of Argentina than a competitive match against Canada.
MLSsoccer.com: Talk about your role with the national team. Was that kind of a send off game for you?
Onstad: We’ll see. I never say never, but realistically, I would think it may have been my last match for Canada. It’s been a fantastic experience for me, as I’ve been playing with them since February 1988. It’s been a long, hard struggle to try to get that program where we need it to be, and unfortunately I didn’t leave it where I hoped it would be, but it’s been a lot of fun and I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment out of it.
MLSsoccer.com: In 15-plus years, have there have been some substantial improvements in Canadian soccer with Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal joining MLS and a lot of players going abroad?
Onstad: The nice part is since I started, we’ve established some teams in what is a truly professional league and hopefully that will be a building block for the national team for years to come.
MLSsoccer.com: What’s your worst national-team memory?
Onstad: The worst one is easy: the Jamaica World Cup Qualifier at home. I gave up essentially an own goal off an in-swinging corner-kick. [It’s] by far my worst memory, and possibly my worst memory in soccer. Even though I gave up a horrendous one in San Jose in 2003, that one was probably worst.
MLSsoccer.com: What’s your best national-team experience?
Onstad: Best one, unfortunately with Canada, not a lot of wins. Playing against Brazil was a big thrill, and we lost 3-2 but played a pretty good game. Played Portugal in the Sky Dome Cup—that was nice. Drawing Mexico in a qualifier in Toronto was nice. Argentina, outside of the game, was a great experience, but the game itself was a bit of a horror show, so I can’t throw that one out there.
Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com. Questions or comments can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.