It’s been 23 years since the Canadian men’s national soccer team last won a trophy. But on Thursday night, they gave themselves the best opportunity to end that drought after winning the CONCACAF Nations League semi-final 2-0 over Panama.

While both Canada and Panama suited up strong lineups, there was a significant amount of rust on the players. With the majority of domestic seasons complete, there has not been a lot of time to rest up.

Within the first 20 minutes, both Sam Adekugbe and Cyle Larin had moments sitting on the pitch.  Both were able to quickly recover, but it did leave many wondering about the fitness levels of the players.

And the pace of play seemed to follow this; players on both sides were content to sit back and play within the midfield. It had also been a while since national team members had last played together, and it showed.

But just while it seemed like this match would grind on and on, Kamal Miller picked out the run of Jonathan David in behind the Panamanian defensive line in the 25th minute. With no one but the goalkeeper left to take on, David passed the ball simply into the back of the net to open the scoring.

Panama came close to hitting Canada back immediately. Just a few minutes later, a free kick just beyond the edge of the 18-yard box, Fidel Escobar hit the ball hard, getting past the wall. Milan Borjan made the initial save but spilled the ball, causing a frenzy just in front of hi. But was able to jump on the rebound quickly, ending any second ball.

The second half started similar to the first with the game grinding. Ismael Díaz had a chance about 10 minutes into the half, but Borjan was well-placed for it. 

Canada almost had a second through Larin in the 59th minute. His point-blank header was saved, but the striker was adamant it crossed the line. VAR checked it during the ensuing play and disagreed with him.

Alphonso Davies came on at the hour mark, and it only took 10 minutes before he made an impact. He received the ball running at pace as he came into the 18-yard box. His shot was hard and into the roof of the net to double Canada’s lead in the 69th minute.

Panama went a man down after Eric Davis elbowed Richie Laryea in the back of the head multiple times in the 81st minute. It took VAR to help teh referee make the call, but it was the correct one.

And with only 10 men to finish the match, Panama had little to offer going forward. Canada moved the ball to maintain possession and hold on for the opportunity to play either Mexico or the USA in the final.

The final matches takes place on Sunday, June 18. The third-place match is at 3 p.m. The final is at 5:30 p.m.