TORONTO (AP) — Despite squandering numerous chances, Canada beat undermanned Cuba 3-0 Friday night to remain on course in World Cup qualifying.
Cuba came to Canada with 15 players, but dressed just 11 for the game. Down the field, Canada (3-1-1) had 10 substitutes dressed.
Pressed on the issue after the game, Cuba coach Alexander Gonzalez said through an interpreter that some players had left the team.
Gonzalez said he had a squad of 15 players when he left Cuba and that four had since left the team. One of those was sick, he added without elaborating.
"As with any Cuban sport team that travels around the world, they're all chasing the American dream," he said. "And it's difficult to try to keep the team together ... Obviously it's a difficult situation for the team and it's tough for me to talk about it."
Cuba went down to 10 in the 70th minute after striker Roberto Linares was ejected off a challenge that crumpled captain Kevin McKenna.
Three minutes later, Canadian striker Olivier Occean was sent off for a melee after Will Johnson's header made it 2-0. That means Occean will have to miss Canada's final match against Honduras, which will decide whether the Canadians advance to the CONCACAF finals.
Tosaint Ricketts scored for Canada in the 14th minute. And until Johnson's goal padded the lead with just 20 minutes remaining, the Cubans were one kick away from evening the score and silencing the enthusiastic crowd of 17,712 at BMO Field.
David Edgar made it 3-0 in the 78th minute with a sweet volley. Now a showdown awaits against in San Pedro Sula on Tuesday.
The top two in the group that also includes Panama advance to the final six-team round of qualifying.
From there, three will advance to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. A fourth CONCACAF team will take part in an intercontinental playoff with the Oceania winner to see who joins them.
"Obviously we only had three but there could have been a lot more," midfielder Atiba Hutchinson said. "And that's one of the reasons why players had their heads down a bit. Because we knew we could have had a lot more goals."
"We're just not finishing our chances. It might cost us in Honduras," McKenna said. "It's in our hands, obviously, if we draw or win the game."
"But it would have been nice if we had taken a lot of pressure off ourselves by scoring more goals tonight and we didn't do that."