All the Canadian men’s national team had to do was win.
That’s what they did. After two disappointing performances against Guadeloupe and Guatemala, the pressure was on. It is safe to say, they got the job done.
Thanks to Guatemala beating Guadeloupe 3-2, Canada finishes second in the Gold Cup’s Group D.
The performance was much better this time around. Canada’s passing was much more accurate and they looked threatening with the build-up play.
A big reason why was Ali Ahmed. He was once again making some good passes, accurate passes and made some solid defensive plays at the left-back position. It would be ideal for him to play in the midfield, but given Ahmed’s versatility, he is capable of playing in the wing-back position.
The veterans needed to step up and they did for the most part. Junior Hoilett scored a well-taken penalty to open the scoring and Jonathan Osorio got the Canadians on the board after some nice build-up play from Lucas Cavallini.
It was also nice to see Liam Millar score. Throughout the game and tournament, he had so many good chances and it was nice to see him bury one.
The youngsters also impressed off the bench. Particularly, 20-year-old Jayden Nelson as he got Canada’s third goal. It was an ugly goal and Cuban goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez should have handled the ball better, but a goal is a goal.
Dayne St. Clair didn’t have a super busy game until late in the first half when Osorio gave the ball away and St. Clair made a badly timed challenge for the ball which lead to Cuba’s first penalty goal.
There were still a bit of sloppy moments in the game and that was one of them. Canada has to clean those up for the quarterfinals. The final third still needs to be improved. Canada co
Another negative from the game worth noting is Moises Bombito. In this tournament, whether at centre-back or in the midfield, he hasn’t looked good. Bombito kept losing the ball against Cuba.
Other than that, it was a satisfying performance.
Stat of the match
Ahmed completed 32 out of 34 accurate passes in his 69 minutes. That’s very nice.
You love to see it
21-year-old Victor Loturi made his Canadian senior men’s national team debut against Cuba. Loturi began his professional career with Cavalry in 2018. Now he plays for Ross Country in the Scottish Premiership. Last season, he played 27 games for Ross County and got two assists.
Loturi is also the sixth player playing in the CPL or a CPL alumnus to debut for the Canadian men’s national team. Another one to watch for the future. That also shows how much grassroots soccer is important.
Shoot from distance
Too bad Osorio’s goal near the end of the game was called offside because that was a banger. Why not try some shots from a distance? Opponents against Canada in this tournament have been good at stopping the Canadian runs into the box. So maybe they should try going for a banger.
Zac McGraw has improved throughout the tournament. Against Guadeloupe and Guatemala, he looked shaky. Against Cuba, he looked more settled in.
Change goalies, goals given up
I don’t think I’ve ever seen this happen before. Cuba took out the goalkeeper Sanchez for backup Nelson Johnston. Soon after, Millar got his goal for Canada.
I can’t recall a time when the goalkeeper was substituted for non-injury reasons and the replacement gives up a goal right after. The only place I’ve seen it is in the schoolyard. Often, I was the goalie that was either taken out or replaced.
Canada will face the US in the Gold Cup quarterfinals on Sunday. Kickoff is at 4:30 pm Pacific.