Canada returned to BMO Field on Tuesday and defeated Honduras 4-1 in a Concacaf Nations League contest
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A year after defeating Jamaica at BMO Field in Toronto and qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the Canadian men’s national soccer team had another statement game on home soil.
Canada returned to BMO Field on Tuesday, and defeated Honduras 4-1 in a Concacaf Nations League contest, booking a spot in the final-four of the continental tournament. On Saturday, Canada travelled to defeat Curacao 2-0, putting themselves in position to win the three-team group.
Cyle Larin scored twice, while Jonathan David and Jonathan Osorio added the others in Canada’s most dominant performance since defeating Jamaica 4-0 to book a place in the World Cup for the first time in 36 years.
“We’re back,” said Canada head coach John Herdman after the game. “Two good performances now; I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to play in Concacaf. I said to these players that if they put the shift in they put in at the World Cup and the shift in they put in Curacao, then their talent is going to come through, and they did, it’s that simple.”
Canada needed only a draw against Honduras to win the group and advance to the Nations League semifinal on goal difference, but the bar had been set much higher.
Herdman and his side want to be considered the best team in the region and now will get an opportunity to prove it.
Canada will face Panama in June in the tournament semifinal in Las Vegas. Mexico and the United States also qualified having finished atop of their respective groups.
“I think we had a very clear game plan tonight,” Herdman said. “One was to suffocate them with our press; we know when we win the ball back high up the pitch, transitionally, there aren’t many teams that can live with us.
“But I thought the combination play; we played with two attacking midfielders tonight and we gave them licence to play between the lines to try and break lines with our movement, and our first goal came from that.”
Larin scored nine minutes into the game, taking a pass in the penalty area from Osorio and slotting the ball into the corner of the net. Larin added a second three minutes later powering in a header at the far post off a corner.
The Real Valladolid striker had an opportunity to net his third towards the end of the first half when Canada was awarded a penalty kick, but rolled his shot wide.
David did add a third, five minutes into the second half, finding a loose ball in the box and slotting it into the net.
Canada conceded a goal on a corner kick to Jorge Benguche in the 73rd minute, but Osorio rounded out the scoring in style, taking a through ball from Ayo Akinola and slotting it over Honduras goalkeeper Luis Lopez.
“It was our objective coming in, we wanted to put in a dominant performance all around,” Osorio said after the game. “That’s what we did in front of our fans. It’s great and now we look forward to the Nations League semifinals over in Vegas and it’s on our journey to get the trophy.”
Having qualified for the World Cup as the top team in Concacaf, Canada considers itself a heavyweight in the confederation now. Heading towards the 2026 FIFA World Cup where they will have an automatic berth as co-hosts, Canada is looking to stock its trophy case.
Along with the Nations League semifinal, Canada will also play in the Concacaf Gold Cup this summer with an eye on competing in the expanded Copa America with the best teams in South America next year.
“Coming into this game, we knew the mentality we wanted to come in here with and we did that,” said Canadian star Alphonso Davies. “We’re undefeated at BMO and we wanted to keep this run going. The boys put on a good performance and we go the result to show.”
Canada has not won a Concacaf competition since its surprising victory at the Gold Cup in 2000.
“We know it’s a big opportunity; we’ve been trophy-less for a number of years now,” Davies said. “We want to change that. Being able to go to the World Cup, and being able to make it to the next round (at Nations League), we want to bring something home for our fans and this country. I think if we set our mind to it and come out and play like we did (Tuesday), we’re definitely going to come out with some silverware in Vegas.”
WOMEN’S TEAM NAMED
Canada will be without star midfielder Janine Beckie at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer in Australia and New Zealand.
Beckie sustained a knee injury with her club team, the Portland Thorns, earlier this month and will be out for the year, which is a huge blow to Canada and head coach Bev Priestman.
On Wednesday, Priestman named her roster for an upcoming exhibition game against France in Le Mans on April 11.
“With the loss of Janine Beckie, I think everybody, was a bit like me and took a big gulp when that moment happened,” Priestman said. “Janine and the leadership she has shown on the pitch and off the pitch, her versatility, that’s a big loss there.”
Beckie will be tough to replace, considering how many different positions she is capable of playing for Canada.
“Janine fills so many places,” Priestman said. “Her versatility and her ability to last back-to-back-to-back 90 minutes, there are very few players in the team who can do that. It’s a huge loss, but what we will have to do is utilize the best players on the team across the pitch and that’s what we’re working through right now and we’ll have a look at it in France.”
On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest
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