No need to re-hash recent events in so much to say that Canada’s win over French Guiana could’ve been deemed as a should win and the Caps win over NYCFC, while as not expected, gave both fans of Canada and the Vancouver Whitecaps something to buzz about.
For Caps fans, the Fonz has been thrilling since his MLS debut a few days after signing his contract. While he has no MLS goals to his name, his goal vs Sporting KC at Children’s Mercy Park last fall and his goal here at BC Place against Red Bulls helped vault the team into the CONCACAF Champions League Semi-Final, where they were beaten, rather easily, by a far superior Tigres UANL team.
Not to be a buzzkill, actually, sort of, I maintain that on the back of Alphonso Davies’ brace in his national team debut, I beg people not to anoint him the new Canadian Soccer Jesus. This was French Guiana, for lack of a better term, a French colony, isn’t even fully recognized by FIFA but are a part of the European Union. Yes, the kid made a difference as the game progressed and was named Man of the Match. Impressive debut, no doubt, but yet again, this was French Guiana. Let’s see how he does vs Costa Rica and Honduras.
Obviously in a 4 team group, 1 win, albeit against the group minnows, gives Canada a boost, in that a pair of draws would put them through. Should Canada and Costa Rica advance, I believe it’s safe to assume that Bolanos and Waston would get the call, meaning the Caps would be without Adekugbe, deJong, Teibert, Davies, Bolanos and Waston. Granted, the first two aren’t major losses, but has the arrival of Ibini and introduction of Reyna into the gameday 18 potentially mitigate that.
Let’s clear one thing up: I am excited about Davies debut for Canada, in that he’s cap-tied to us. His wanting to play for Canada made the cap-tie issue a moot point. Also, I’m excited about Yordy Reyna. He showed that same flair that Morales and Sebastian Fernandez did back in 2014, and Octavio Rivero did in 2015. We all remember what happened with those three. I’m not going to go as far to say that after 1 appearance off the bench, but it is encouraging, albeit against a team who was already struggling to keep up with the Caps speed.
I urge all Caps and Canada supporters to proceed with cautious optimism. Caps fans have been down this road too many times, and yet some are still as giddy as a schoolgirl about to meet Bieber. I suppose the one major difference ,is that Morales and Rivero had that vaunted “Designated Player” tag slapped on them, perhaps multiplying the pressure. As for the National Team, I don’t think we’ve ever seen a talent like Davies burst onto the scene the way he did. Is he setting himself up for failure because of unrealistic expectations or is this a sign of things to come. Obviously, he’s not going to score 2 goals every game.
Looking ahead, for the Caps, the worst case scenario is that Canada and Costa Rica go on long runs. Of the 6 (Adekugbe, deJong, Teibert, Davies, Bolanos and Waston) that would be missing, Waston and Bola would be the biggest misses, presumably meaning that Jacobson sees more time at CB, beside Parker. With Ibini and Reyna, the midfield/forward options look a lot better. Laba, Techera, Tchani, Mezquida, Shea, Ibini and Reyna with Montero and Hurtado up top.
Of course, we’re only through 1 of 3 games for the Canadian Men, with toughest test dead ahead in Costa Rica and the game against Honduras on the 14th will seal Canada’s fate, and we’ll have a better idea what the men’s national team, and more immediately, what the Caps lineup will look like after the break is over.