BVANCOUVER, BC - it's been ten years since the Canadian Men's National Team played a match in Vancouver, but on Friday night at BC Place fans of Les Rogues went home happy after watching a decisive 1-0 victory over Honduras in a crucial Group A match.
Although Canada looked fairly solid in their middle and defensive third, they almost found themselves down a goal in the 26th minute after a Carlos Discua pounced on a Canadian giveaway, but the Honduran was unable to put his shot on target.
Canada had an excellent opportunity to get on the score sheet in the 31st minute when Honduran 'keeper Noel Valladares was forced to tip Julian de Guzman's shot over the crossbar after Atiba Hutchinson did some fine work on the left flank to provide de Guzman with the service.
Canada continued to press and rewarded their fans with a goal in the 38th minute. Junior Hoilett, making his Canada debut, started the play with a run out of midfield with Cyle Larin. After a smooth give-and-go with the MLS Rookie of the Year, Hoilett bombed in a cross from the left flank. Will Johnson got a head to the ball, which deflected off of Larin's back to eventually beat Vallardares for the only goal of the match.
The second half saw no goals for either team, but Canada came within inches of adding a second in the 61st minute. Luis Garrido's foul on Hoilett outside the Honduras box earned him a yellow card and referee Kevin Morrison awarded Canada a free kick in a dangerous position. Johnston stepped up to take the kick, and Valladares managed to get the slightest of touches to turn the shot onto the post.
By the 70th minute Honduran coach Jorge Luis Pinto had used all of his substitutes in an effort to find a goal and get back into the match. Despite a tight opening fifteen minutes, Canada grew into the match nicely, and once they went ahead there were promising signs that they would be able to hold on and win the game.
Honduras did have an excellent chance to draw level in the 76th minute when Mario Martinez's shot from distance forced Milan Borjan to tip his shot over the goal. That was as close as Honduras would come and Canada won the match by a final score of 1-0.
"It's great, it's important to get off to a good start, win your home games against the team that is probably favoured to get second in the group," said midfielder Will Johnson. "It's been a long time coming for us from the last round to right now, so it feels good to have taken another positive step for this country."
"It was the most fun that I've had in a football match," said defender and Vancouver Whitecaps residency graduate Adam Straith after the match. "Being in front of my friends and family and also the way that the game went added to it, and it was a lot of fun."
Referee: Kevin Morrison (JAM)
38' - CAN- Cyle Larin
Shots: Canada 11 - Honduras 9
Shots on target: Canada 6 - Honduras 4
Saves: Canada 4 - Honduras 5
Fouls: Canada 15 - Honduras 18
Corner kicks: Canada 6 - Honduras 1
Offsides: Canada 1 - Honduras 0
18' CAN - Hoilett
20' - HON - Acosta
30' - HON - Discua
62' - HON - Garrido
Milan Borjan; Karl Ouimette, Adam Straith, Dejan Jakovic, Marcel de Jong; Julian de Guzman (c) (Samuel Piette 78'), Will Johnson, Atiba Hutchinson; Junior Hoilett (Tesho Akindele 81'), Tosaint Ricketts, Cyle Larin (Marcus Haber 73')
Substitutes not used
Simon Thomas, Kenny Stamatopoulos, Fraser Aird, Sam Adekugbe, Manjrekar James, David Edgar, Russell Teibert, Kianz Froese, Wandrille Lefevre
Noel Valladares (c); Brayan Beckeles, Maynor Figueroa, Jhony Palacios, Ever Alvarado, Carlos Discua (Angel Tejeda 69'), Boniek Garcia, Bryan Acosta (Mario Martinez 65'), Luis Garrido, Erick Andino (Romell Quioto 56'), Rubilio Castillo
Substitutes not used
Donis Escober, Wilmer Cristanto, David Velasquez, Emilio Izaguirre, Jerry Bengston, Arnold Peralta, Johnny Leveron, Oliver Morazan, Cesar Oseguera