Happy Tuesday Caps’ fans and happy Canada/USMNT day. While I could sit here and pretend that I held Monday’s column for today in honor of that titanic clash, instead it was really because I didn’t work yesterday and forgot (whoops!).
But we continue onward and upwards. Tonight’s match is monumental for both teams. It is the first time the pair have played competitively since 1997 and the first at all since 2012.
Despite the fact that the countries are rivals in everything from women’s soccer to hockey to maple syrup production, it never has really taken off in men’s soccer. This is for a few reasons, including the fact that in the past 20 years one (or both) of the teams have been mediocre or worse. As the U.S. has improved, it has been more inclined to see CONCACAF Mack Daddy Mexico as its main rival, something which immigration patterns have likely inflamed.
But Canada, for years an also-ran, is obviously positioning itself well for becoming part of the confederation’s elite, bolstered by its young core, the CPL and continued investment in growing the game at the youth levels. The U.S.—Mexico—Canada triple bid for the 2026 World Cup would probably most benefit our northern neighbors, potentially jump starting the game domestically similar to the 1994 tournament did in the States. And an expanded World Cup would give both the U.S. and Canada near guaranteed participation for perpetuity (insurance the U.S. apparently needs).
In the near term, obviously, everyone is focused on qualifying for Qatar 2022. The match provides the best, nay, the only real chance for Canada to make up the kind of FIFA rankings ground that they need to wedge themselves into the top six. Despite the ticketing controversies we ran down last week, the atmosphere for the game should reflect the its importance for the Reds.
It also matters a good deal for the U.S. as well, marking the first quality opponent the team has faced since the Gold Cup ended disappointingly at the hands of Mexico. Canada has the most raw speed of any CONCACAF team right now, save Mexico, and it will present a good measuring stick for how well the current backline (which has basically been duct tape together given the injuries to John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin) will hold up against a quality opponent.
For more of a preview as to how the U.S. will likely line up, check our friends over at Stars and Stripes United run down what the Starting XI could look like. The Cliff Notes are that a lot of it will hinge on the fullback situation and whether Danny Lovitz or Nick Limta, Reggie Cannon or a now healthy Yedlin gets the run out. Either way it should be compelling TV and provide a good break from the Democratic Debate going on simultaneously on CNN. Feel free to utilize this space as a game thread to mock me and the USMNT after they inevitably USMNT it up and lose.
In the meantime, onto the links!
Shameless Self Promotion
Nothing to report at the moment but keep an eye posted for our season in review round tables, which should drop later this week. I’ll also have a look at what the SuperDraft prospects could look like for the Caps and I’m sure Caleb is cooking up something.
UPDATE: Caleb did cook up something: a worthwhile look into where the Caps’ striker search may lead
Best of the Rest
JJ Adams (or is it Abrams? Hmmmm) gives a good primer on what to expect this offseason
The Daily Hive has their own take on who stays and goes (including being weirdly pessimistic about the potential fate of Michaell Chirinos)
Milan Borjan must have read our column last week and is trying to gin up more support from Toronto fans, a la the team’s MLS side
NYCFC may have to move their playoff games if the New York Yankees make the playoffs and, my God, the jokes just write themselves don’t they