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Coffee with the Caps, Monday March 25

O Canada!

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MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps at Los Angeles FC Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday everybody. It’s an especially happy Monday for the Canadian Men’s National Team, which dispatched with French Guyana 4-1 Sunday evening to punch their ticket to this summer’s Gold Cup (and move into the top bracket of the CONCACAF Nations League).

While not a surprise, the convincing result had to be a pleasant sight for CMNT fans, which pulled away after French Guyana leveled the scoreline at 1-1 midway through the first half. A brace from Lucas Cavallini and goals from Jonathan David and Junior Hoilett will do the trick.

Unlike many who frequent this blog, I am not Canadian. But I do find myself invested fairly heavily in the CMNT, if for no other reason than its fate is so often intertwined with that of the Caps. And as a (relative) neutral, I have to say the lineup announced by John Herdmann ahead of Sunday’s match really impressed me (this was before Alphonso Davies was forced to pull out of playing due to injury). It struck me how much the outlook for the Canadian team reminded me of where the USMNT hopes to be (albeit with a bit more depth at Greg Berhalter’s disposal): a team with a tactical vision, team chemistry and talent to boot.

The fact that players like Davies, Ballou Tabla and Jonathan David are in with major European teams (yes I know Tabla plays for Barca B; that’s still impressive IMO) reminds me of American exports like Tyler Adams, Weston McKinnie and Tim Weah are starting to make their mark on the US team, while older stalwarts such as Altiba Hutchinson are starting to fade away.

The dynamics of the team seem to be coming together for Herdmann in a way that they did not for Carlos Zambrano. Take this quote from Herdman

[It’s about] clarity. Clarity on the tactical framework, clarity on the high-performance culture and that line that we expect them to live above every time they’re in camp. And then deepen the meaning of the shirt and of representing Canada and the opportunity to leave a legacy for this country.”

In my mind, there is no more important thing for a club than to have an identity, tactical or otherwise. It’s what has been frustrating about being a USMNT fan (and, sometimes, a Whitecaps fan). The fact that Canada can now (with a straight face) claim some sort of identity is huge; that same sort of development is still taking place in the States.

I do not profess to be a Canadian soccer expert, so take this as the two cents of an outsider. But CONCACAF needs more national teams that can really be competitive. The fact of the matter is Canada is one of the three most resourced nations in the confederation and thus, barring a golden generation elsewhere, is really the country the most primed to take a big step and join the global elite.

A rising tide lifts all boats (which any reader of this column will probably note is my motto on a lot of things). Canada is doing all the right things and I see no reason why it can’t be competitive at this summer’s Gold Cup and, if it continues its current trajectory, be in a position to make an impression at the likely 2026 Triple Bid (TM) World Cup.

All of this is to say “bravo” from a Yankee jealous of how far you have come in recent years while our national team has remained all too stagnant.

The other good news? This is the last international football related column I’ll write for awhile because in six days ... the Caps are back!

Other Whitecaps in Action

Two other Vancouver Whitecaps players were called up for duty during this international break: Yordy Reyna and Inboem Hwang.

Reyna played 11 minutes for Peru in a 1-0 victory of Paraguay on Friday. Peru plays El Salvador tomorrow evening at 6pm.

Inboem played 90 minutes for South Korea in their 1-0 victory over Bolivia on Friday. South Korea plays Colombia tomorrow morning at 4am.

More Davies News

We noted last week that Alphonso Davies scored his first goal with Bayern. Bavarian Football Works had a great piece on his goal and his play during that game. I highly recommend reading it.

Onto the links:

There was MLS action over the weekend and former Caps Kekuta Manneh and Spencer Richey helped lead FC Cincinnati to a 2-0 win over New England. Imagine if Vancouver hadn’t shut out Richey ... sigh.

A nice look at the man who will probably hopefully not be terrorizing the Caps’ backline on Sunday: the new and improved Jordan Morris.

We’re a month out from the start of the Canadian Premier League and anticipation is building

Hope your Mondays are fruitful and I’ll see you all back here Friday as we prep for Seattle.