Photo/Text: Canada Soccer
Canada remain unbeaten in the Concacaf Final Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers after earning an important 1:1 draw against USA in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a resilient performance by the Canadian side who were committed from start to finish and picked up their road point after Cyle Larin equalised less than 10 minutes after going down a goal in the second half.
Canada showed plenty of heart and intensity as they picked up their second 1:1 draw in the September window following a similar scoreline against Honduras in Toronto. Canada’s next match is Wednesday 8 September against El Salvador at BMO Field in Toronto. The sold-out match will be broadcast live at 19.30 local / 19.30 ET / 16.30 PT on OneSoccer and Sportsnet.
“I asked for heart. I asked for each man to bring a level of intensity and to show they’re brothers. We had to make sure the USA never got comfortable. I think we were able to control without the ball a lot of the game,” said Head Coach John Herdman. “Game by game we’re getting tighter, and getting more chemistry. We’re showing that this is a talented squad from one through 23 that are desperate to go to a FIFA World Cup. This is a tough grind. Every game is an absolute battle. It’s like a 14-game war that we’re going through.”
The draw also gave Canada their first point against USA in USA in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers since 1980 when they played to a 0:0 draw in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Canada’s last competitive point against USA in USA was the 2002 Concacaf Gold Cup Semi-Final in Pasadena, California when they drew 0:0 at the Rose Bowl before USA advanced to the Final with a 4-2 win on kicks from the penalty mark.
Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team has built a strong group of players that is gaining invaluable experience by reaching the Concacaf Final Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Canada is battling for a spot at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ as well as preparing to co-host the FIFA World Cup 2026™.
“We were tactically sound, we knew what our game plan was coming into the match, and we think we executed it well, said Sam Adekugbe. “We thought we could have got the three points tonight and are disappointed not to get them. We will take this point, but that’s not the mentality of this group. We felt we had the better chances. I think the national anthem and the way that we sing, it shows the passion that we bring to the field.”
The Canadians started the match strong, putting pressure on the USA and creating chances early. In the 11’ Junior Hoilett sent a pass from his own half down the sideline to find Larin in behind the USA defence. Larin’s shot from the top of the box was a straightforward save.
A few minutes later, Alphonso Davies won a battle with Sergino Dest and was able to drive quickly to the touchline and pull a pass back to Larin, but the Canadian striker’s shot was stopped by a diving save by Matt Turner.
As the half progressed, the United States was able to start putting more pressure on Canada, and in the 21’ Miles Robinson was able to get a free shot away, but Milan Borjan made a solid diving save. In the 27’, Borjan was forced into another save on a header from teammate Scott Kennedy to prevent an own goal and keep the sides level.
The best chance for the USA in the first half came in the 40’ when Christian Pulisic hit the goal post.
Canada had the first chance of the second half, as Hoilett slid a cross through the six-yard box but none of his teammates were able to get a foot on it to put the ball in the next (50’).
It was the USA that took the 1:0 lead on a quick counterattack, with Brenden Aaronson tucking the goal away (55’).
In the 62’, Canada equalized on a goal from Larin. Sam Adekugbe played a great pass through to Davies, who was able to win the footrace against the American defender and play a cross into Larin who made no mistake with a shot into the open net.
Tajon Buchanan nearly gave Canada the lead in the 78’ as he made a great move to get past the defender and followed with a blistering run down the wing before taking a shot that went just inches wide of the far post.
The Canadians had another chance in the 87’ to take the lead courtesy of Richie Laryea who found a way in behind the defence, but no one was able to get a touch on his low cross through the box.
Canada’s starting XI featured Milan Borjan in goal, Alistair Johnston at right back, Doneil Henry at centre back, Scott Kennedy at left back, and Richie Laryea, Samuel Adekugbe, Stephen Eustáquio, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Junior Hoilett, Alphonso Davies and Cyle Larin from the midfield up through to the attack. In the second half, Herdman replaced Kennedy with Kamal Miller (58’), Hoilett with Tajon Buchanan (64’), Larin with Jonathan David (64’), Davies with Jonathan Osorio (76’) and Kaye with Atiba Hutchinson (76’).
CANADA SOCCER’S MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM PROGRAM
Canada has built plenty of momentum in a landmark year for the Men’s National Team Program that will feature a record 19 international matches including FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and the Concacaf Gold Cup. Canada have already played 12 of those 19 matches, posting a record of 9-1-2 with six clean sheets and a record 43 goals scored. Canada also set a record with eight consecutive wins and reached the Concacaf Gold Cup Semifinals for the first time since 2007.
Canada will play eight of their 14 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in the Concacaf Final Round from September through November 2021: three matches in September, three matches in October, and two matches in November). In 2022, Canada will play three more matches in January/February and three more matches in March. Along with Honduras, USA and El Salvador, Canada’s other opponents in the Concacaf Final Round are Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico and Panama.
To reach the Concacaf Final Round, Canada won their First Round group against Aruba, Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Suriname, then eliminated Haiti in a head-to-head Second Round series. This marks the first time since 1997 that Canada have reached the Concacaf Final Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. From the Concacaf Final Round of eight nations, the top-three nations automatically qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the fourth-best nation advancing to an inter-continental playoff for additional FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team are two-time Concacaf champions, previously winning the 1985 Concacaf Championship and 2000 Concacaf Gold Cup. This year marks Canada’s 15th participation at the Concacaf Gold Cup since 1991. Along with their first-place finish in 2000, Canada reached the Semifinals in 2002, 2007, and 2021. Across the past five years from 2017 to 2021, Canada are one of only four nations that finished top-six across all four Concacaf major tournaments: fifth place in Concacaf Nations League A, sixth place at both the 2017 and 2019 Concacaf Gold Cups, and a semi-final finish at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.