O, Canada! Group A is back in action on Friday as Canada visits Orlando to get away from the cold north as winter approaches. So far, Les Rouges are one of the biggest surprises of the tournament amassing a 3-0 record with a trio of clean sheets and nine goals scored.
While the team currently sits in first place, they will need a win or a draw to carry the group. A loss plus the result of the USA at Cuba match next week makes Canada’s destiny less clear.
So far, John Herdman has shown himself to be an adroit manager in his recognition of the weaknesses of the US when the teams last met. With his side only needing a draw or even just not a bad loss, Canada may bunker rather than risk its position in the table.
Goalkeepers- Milan Borjan | SRB / FK Crvena zvezda (Red Star Belgrade); Maxime Crépeau | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC; Jayson Leutwiler | ENG / Blackburn Rovers
Defenders- Derek Cornelius | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC; Amer Didić | CAN / FC Edmonton; Doneil Henry | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC; Steven Vitória | POR / Moreirense FC; Samuel Adekugbe | NOR / Vålerenga Fotball; Richie Laryea | CAN / Toronto FC; Kamal Miller | USA / Orlando City SC; Dominick Zator | CAN / Cavalry FC
Midfield- Scott Arfield | SCO / Glasgow Rangers FC; Stephen Eustáquio | MEX / Cruz Azul FC; Liam Fraser | CAN / Toronto FC; Mark-Anthony Kaye | USA / Los Angeles FC; Jonathan Osorio | CAN / Toronto FC; Samuel Piette | CAN / Impact de Montréal; David Wotherspoon | SCO / St. Johnstone FC
Forward- Lucas Cavallini | MEX / Puebla FC; Jonathan David | BEL / KAA Gent; Alphonso Davies | GER / FC Bayern München; David Junior Hoilett | WAL / Cardiff City FC; Liam Millar | SCO / Kilmarnock FC
Nominally Canada lined up with this same roster in a 4-2-3-1 at home but they sat pretty deep against the US and then took advantage of sloppy, slow, predictable passes to pull off an upset. The Americans will be favorites and the team has had success playing in Orlando before. I expect Canada to sit back again but maybe pick some moments to go at the US more directly. Osorio and Kaye are more than capable of putting together a string of good passes, and if the US does not press them (again) another surprise could be in store.
There’s something about this Canada roster that reminds me of USMNT squads from around 2002-2010. MLS is represented and the Canadian domestic league has a few names too, but there is an exciting young star that looks like he can carry the team for a generation in Alphonso Davies and Borjan is an established veteran goalkeeper. They are surrounded by some rising talent in LigaMX and players trying to establish themselves in less attention grabbing leagues in Europe. The squad seems hungry and they play that way too.