Canada fell 3-0 to Mexico in their latest World Cup qualifying match in Vancouver, Friday night.
The result leaves Canada in second-place, 5 points behind first-place Mexico, in Group A of the fourth round of CONCACAF World Cup 2018 qualifying.
There had been hope that recent Canadian improvements and a recently discovered confidence could garner a positive result, or at least a positive performance. But it was not to be.
Here are 5 things we learned from Canada’s loss to Mexico:
1. There’s still an obvious gulf in class between Canada and other teams:
No Canadian soccer fan can honestly say that Canada is a great side. But there had been murmurs of hope that the gap between Canada and the major CONCACAF nations was closing. Not true, based on this last contest.
From the start, Mexico pressed hard – often deploying seven or eight attacking ‘defenders’ into their opponents half while Canada was in possession. Not a tactic you engage if you respect your opponent’s attacking capabilities. They had concluded, quite correctly, that their hosts’ midfield and defence were incapable of coping with such harassment.
Canada never looked comfortable on the ball, giving it up too easily and too often. Canada are lucky that Mexico only scored three. But for some great saves by Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan and numerous efforts hitting the woodwork, it would have been worse.
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2. Canada’s lack of goal scoring is disconcerting:
Four points from their first two matches of the round had hidden one of Canada’s main worries. They don’t score goals.
They’ve only tallied one goal in three matches during this round of qualifying – that being a bumbled-over-the-line-off-his-back-as-he-was-falling effort by Cyle Larin against Honduras last November.
Against Mexico the young Orlando City striker was clean through on goal in the first half. The angle called for a left-footed effort – he toe poked it with his right. The ball ended up in row Z of the stands. A seemingly lack of technical confidence letting him down.
These types of chances need to be on target – especially when playing a side like Mexico and the opportunities are at a premium. Canada’s other two first-half chances fell to Junior Hoilett with similarly woefully off target results. Mexican goalkeeper Alfredo Talevera’s major contributions to the first-half were limited to goal kicks.
3. Canada soccer fans believe things are improving:
Or more accurately, Canada soccer fans WANT to believe things are improving. A record-setting crowd of over 55,000 watched the match in Vancouver Friday night.
The clad-in-red, flag-waving Canadian supporters wouldn’t have packed BC Place had they thought a 3-nil drubbing was assured prior to kick-off. Over 55 per cent of respondents to a recent Total Soccer Project poll thought Canada would get a win or draw against Mexico.
Support for Canadian men’s soccer team appears to be getting stronger. But is this just blind, unrealistic optimism?
4. Hold on, it might get worse:
Canada and Mexico face each other again in Mexico City, Tuesday. A confident Mexico will be anticipating a big win. A victory will put the hosts through to the final round of qualification.
Considering this, and Friday’s result, a similar 3-0 loss for the Canadians at the Estadio Azteca Tuesday might be considered a positive result.
5. After all this, Canada are still in with a half-decent chance to qualify for the next round:
What does it say that Canada’s highlight of the night occurred over 5,000 km away in San Salvador, El Salvador?
Honduras gave up a late lead to draw with El Salvador 2-2 in the group’s other match. The result keeps Canada in second place, for the time being. The top two teams from the group progress to the final round of qualifying.
“That’s fantastic, obviously a good result for us,” said Canadian defender Adam Straith upon hearing the result from El Salvador. “We’d like to see another one like that.”
Canada can hope for other results to go their way, but at some point, they’re going to have to deliver them themselves.
Mexico vs Canada, will be broadcast live on TSN2 at 22.30 ET / 19.30 PT Tuesday, March 29.[socialpoll id=”2345935″]
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