Text/Photos: Canada Soccer
An inspired Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team fired 3 goals past El Salvador to win three points on Wednesday night on the third match day of the Concacaf Final Round of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers. Atiba Hutchinson, Jonathan David and Tajon Buchanan were the goalscorers as Canada improved to five points with 5 goals scored from three matches in September. It also marked the first time since 1993 that Canada opened three matches unbeaten in the Concacaf Final Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
Canada have opened FIFA World Cup Qualifiers unbeaten with back-to-back 1:1 draws against Honduras and USA. With this 3:0 over El Salvador, Canada now has five points in Concacaf Final Round standings.
“We’re content. Seven or nine (points) would have been the perfect start, but we had to have that Honduras learning to build the intensity for when teams are putting everything on the line,” said Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team Head Coach John Hermdan. “To take three goals tonight, and an away result against the US, we would take it given what we’ve learned. You’ve got to grow every game, and you’ve got get better.”
This victory also marked Head Coach John Herdman’s 22nd win, the most international “A” match wins for a Canada Soccer Men’s National Team Head Coach.
The road to Qatar 2022 will continue in October 2022. Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team will face Mexico in an away match on 7 October, Jamaica in an away match on 10 October, and Panama at home at BMO Field in Toronto on 13 October. Ticket details for the home match at BMO Field will be announced soon.
“All in all, we’re happy with where we’re at right now,” said Canada’s Captain Atiba Hutchinson. “We feel like we’re in a good place. We just want to continue to build on this. We feel that we deserve it and that we’re a good enough team to be winning consistently. We’re at a place where you want to take it game by game, step by step and get more.”
Hutchinson’s goal extended Canada’s unbeaten streak when he scores for Canada with the team registering five wins and three draws over his tenure with the Men’s National Team since 2004.
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™.
Larin set Canada’s all-time record for FIFA World Cup Qualifiers goals last Thursday while Alphonso Davies set the Men’s National Team’s record for assists in a season on Sunday. Also last Thursday in Toronto, Tajon Buchanan, Stephen Eustáquio, Alistair Johnston, Scott Kennedy, and David Wotherspoon all played their first international home matches with Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team.
“t’s an amazing feeling that in three games we haven’t lost,” said Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan. “That’s the most important thing in these FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. I’m just proud. I’m proud of my teammates, that they’re doing an amazing job each game, and from the first game to this game, it was unbelievable. Playing every three days, it’s very hard, mentally, but the guys stayed on task and that’s the most important.”
Borjan has tied the record for most international clean sheets with the 3:0 result.
Canada opened the scoring early with a great combination play between Junior Hoilett, Jonathan Osorio, and Richie Laryea before Atiba Hutchinson put the final cross into the back of the net (6’).
Just five minutes later, Tajon Buchanan chipped a cross back into the danger area in the aftermath of a set-play and found Jonathan David who headed it home to double the Canadian lead (11’).
A free kick by Hoilett in the 15’ bounced around in the box and both Buchanan and Stephen Eustaquio got strong shots away but were ultimately blocked by an El Salvador defender. In the 32’, Osorio got a shot away from just outside of the box but it didn’t have enough bend on it to curve into the far post, and instead the shot went wide.
El Salvador’s best chance of the first half came in the 37’ from Enrico Duenas, who found some space and got a shot away that took a deflection off Steven Vitoria and looked dangerous before it went wide.
Canada started the second half on the front foot and in the 49’, Alistair Johnston found himself in some space and put a low, hard cross through the six-yard box but none of the Canadian attackers were able to get a foot on it to steer it in.
Canada added a third goal when David stole a loose pass and broke on a two-on-one opportunity. He made a square pass to Buchanan who hesitated before calmly sliding his shot past the keeper to make it 3:0 (59’).
In the 67’ Milan Borjan made his best stop of the match as he was called into action to make a fantastic reaction save as the ball floated just over the head of Joaquin Rivas. On the follow-up play, Laryea was able to make a last-ditch tackle to stop a clear chance. Laryea had a chance to make it 4:0 in the 86’ as space opened up in front of him and he hit a great strike that was parried away by El Salvador’s goalkeeper.
Canada’s starting XI featured Milan Borjan in goal, Alistair Johnston at right back, Steven Vitoria at centre back, Kamal Millar at left back, and Richie Laryea, Atiba Hutchinson, Stephen Eustaquio, Jonathan Osorio, Tajon Buchanan, Jonathan David and Junior Hoilett from the midfield up through to the attack. In the second half, Herdman replaced Hoilett with Sam Adekugbe (57’), Hutchinson with Mark-Anthony Kaye (70’), Osorio with David Wotherspoon (70’), Eustaquio with Samuel Piette (79’) and David with Lucas Cavallini (79’).
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 13 of those 19 matches, posting a record of 9-2-2 with six clean sheets and a record 44 goals scored. Earlier this year, Canada 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 have finished top-six across all three Concacaf major tournaments: fifth place in Concacaf Nations League A and sixth place at both the 2017 and 2019 Concacaf Gold Cups.