So far so good.
Canada’s 2-0 win over El Salvador on Friday was something that should have been expected, but as Canadians it wasn’t something that we took for granted. This is a program that has hurt us before, after all.
But, there was something different about the not-so-young youth team’s performance. They didn’t play scared, or to “not lose.” Rather, they set up to execute a game plan and did so in a mostly successful way.
That game plan was to set-up in a mid block without the ball and look to generate space for the wing play through effective ball movement from the back. Watching Canada try to play out from the back was terrifying at times – we are conditioned to anticipate the worst – but, it worked, it must be said.
El Salvador had more possession, by both design and score effect, but never threatened.
Canada, meanwhile, could have had a couple more. They definitely should have had a third with Ballou getting robbed on the goal line early in the second half.
It would have been a fitting reward for a solid game from the Montreal-man, who was overshadowed by his New England counterpart Tajon Buchanan.
He was the star. Making his first Canadian appearance (which is a little damning to the Canadian u20 selection process, it must be said, but we’ll leave at that for now), the Revs’ breakout star was the type of dangerous attacking piece that Canada has rarely had in the past. His play gives fans hope in not only this tournament, but that the full senior team probably won’t drop the ball in the minnow round of WCQ that gets underway THIS WEEK (ack!).
The job is far from done, here, of course. Another should-but-must win today against Haiti before the first big one against Honduras.
Oh, Honduras. Isn’t it always them?
As much as I 8-1 to talk about them, a match-up against them will always give Canadian fans PTSD until one day it doesn’t. The only way to get to that day is consistently beat them at all levels. It would also help to get a win down there, but that’s going to have to wait to (hopefully) next fall.
Winning now (and, obviously taking care of business versus Haiti) would set-up a win-and-in game against (likely) the United States. The US is 2-0, but it’s been a bit huff and puff. I’m not going to suggest that the Americans shouldn’t still be the favourite against Canada – Canada is very much in show me don’t tell me territory when it comes to this stuff – but I’ve seen nothing to suggest that they aren’t beatable.
But, speaking of PTSD, first things first. Haiti tonight.
The Haitians are hard to peg, based on the disaster of a first game thy played. If you missed it they were forced to start the game with 10 men because they didn’t show up in time to get COVID clearance. Canada needs to win.
And they should.