Canada Men’s National Team: A rivalry with USA renewed, now what?

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019. Mark this as the day Canada finally did it. For the first time since, well, a long time as you all know, our Canada Men’s National Team beat the United States in CONCACAF Nations League play by a final score of 2-0.

For those who only saw the score and/or the highlights and not the whole match, you’re probably wondering “Wow. how did that happen?’. Well, it started with all the pre=match hype. Much was said by the team with regards to excitement and hatred. Included was coach Herdman promising ‘blood, guts & thunder’. So that became quite intriguing if it wasn’t already there.

Then came training and preparation. Herdman, who is known for planning and motivating, had to come up with the ideal game plan to go toe-to-toe with the CONCACAF juggernaut. We would later find out that the game plan mainly consisted of lining up in a 4-2-2-2 formation and simply working harder than the Americans.

Next up, lights, cameras and action! The wait is finally over and the rivalry has officially been renewed. Miller, Cornelius, Vitoria and Laryea made up the back four of the 4-2-2-2 formation with Kaye and Piette holding not too far ahead. Osorio and Arfield controlled pace and found open space almost every time after winning the ball back. They were also able to cover a lot of ground off the ball and disrupt the Americans build up on numerous occasions. Finally, Davies and David lined up as the two men up front off the ball with Laryea coming up to work the right side in possession.

Fast forward to 90 minutes later, history was made as goals from Alphonso Davies and Lucas Cavallini saw Canada get, sorry, deserve arguably their biggest win ever, gaining confidence going forward and (hopefully) silencing critics. A lot was said about how this American team that was beaten, are no where near what they used to be. While I agree with that statement, let’s not forget that this is a team that tied Uruguay in a friendly match just over a month ago and arguably has more talent at their disposal. They had a plan and executed it to perfection.

Now, as much as I would love to go more in depth about how this happened, there isn’t much that hasn’t been said to this point about the result. During my excitement, I couldn’t help but think ahead, a rivalry renewed, now what? One thing is certain, the next match on November 15th, 2019 in Orlando will be much more difficult without the 12th man and simply because, the Americans did not like losing to us, at all. As things stand, Canada sits atop of group A, six points ahead of USA with Cuba in third. Although we have not clinched a spot in the final four, we will be participating in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup regardless of what happens. We’re also guaranteed to remain in League A which was probably expected but still nice to know. A draw or win vs the Americans puts us through to the final four of League A joining Honduras and if no other upsets happens, Mexico and Costa Rica as well.

The job isn’t done just yet but the bar for expectations has been set higher for Canada. How high, you might ask? Well assuming we do the same thing come November, we then put ourselves in a position to potentially go back to San Pedro Sula and beat Honduras 8-1 and then dethrone the CONCACAF kings in Mexico to win the Nations League title. After all that, we qualify for the Hex and do it all over again. After breezing through the competition, we end up finishing first in the Hex round which see’s us qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Too much? Yeah you’re right, I apologize for that. This renewed rivalry is really messing with my perception of this teams potential following a historic win. In all seriousness, where was I? Ah yes, how high is the bar for expectations now? All kidding aside, it all depends on who you ask. Me? A reasonable expectation I have is for us to qualify for the Hex. How about yours? Is your bar set lower than mine? Is it higher than the fairy tale I mentioned?

If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that Herdman and the boys have silenced critics, made it known that they are no longer a team to be taken lightly and that they will go into every match with a winning mentality unlike previous regimes. This was already mentioned a handful of times before but this time around has significantly more meaning to it.

A rivalry renewed, now what? Well, it all depends on who you ask.

Thanks for reading!