Welcome back everyone, Sam here subbing in for Andrew today, and it’s a special edition of Coffee with the Caps, as we break down all things CANMNT. I’m going to discuss three of my takeaways from each of the matches yesterday, as well as some thoughts about the teams going forward.
We’ll start with the first team. It was a pretty easy match for the Red and White, especially considering that Bermuda was missing a good number of their best players. But nonetheless, it was nice to see such a strong group of national teamers together.
It almost goes without saying, but Alphonso Davies is the kind of world-class player that completely changes the prospects of this team.
Alphonso Davies (20) v. Bermuda:— Football Wonderkids (@fbwonderkids) March 26, 2021
☑️ 90 minutes
️ 3 assists
8 key passes
11 dribbles won
⚔️ 15 duels won
64 passes completed
Yes, beat up on a small but mighty island nation but a World Cup qualifier requires ruthlessness. pic.twitter.com/mdogMIAnTF
Davies has always been able to create for himself, but his positioning, passing and set piece abilities have improved greatly during his tenure at Bayern, and it’s evident he’s really learned how to get the best out of those around him.
We’ve been here before. It’s time for Max to take over as the CANMNT starter. As much as Milan Borjan has a storied record with his club team, his aptitude for costly errors, more advanced age, and shortcomings with the ball at his feet should be enough to have John Herdman looking elsewhere. Borjan’s gaffe against Bermuda was largely without consequence, but Canada can’t afford any more moments like that going forward.
It wasn’t a good match for Lucas Cavallini. He had three or four great chances against Bermuda, and one in particular which took quite a bit of skill to miss. For the Whitecaps, this honestly might be a good thing (might as well shake off the rust), but with Cyle Larin surging for both club and country, Cava could lose his spot when Johnathan David is available.
This takes us to the U-23’s. After a massive opening match win, the team has sputtered and looked uninspired offensively. Playing this way meant that the margins were very thin in the group stage, and Canada faces the nightmare matchup on Sunday as a result, a semi-finals showdown with Mexico for the third qualifying tournament in a row.
It’s been a great tournament for many Whitecaps (or former Whitecaps) players. Patrick Metcalfe has really impressed, Michael Baldisimo has shown everyone what he can do, and former VWFC prospect David Norman Jr has been very serviceable in his CB duty. Last but not least, Derek Cornelius has been everywhere, not only leading the team defensively, but also scoring a goal and being involved in a few other chances against Honduras. Marc Dos Santos better be taking notice.
It’s time to take the training wheels off. Lucas Dias is ready to start a match. Canada is in desperate need of a link between the midfield and its attackers, and Dias has offered that in his limited sub duty. If you’re going to beat Mexico, everything has to go right, and it looks like Dias would help give Canada their best chance of putting a few behind El Tri.
Yes, Buchanan is your best attacking player. But no, that doesn’t mean you should just hoof the ball to him aimlessly. A lot of pressure is going to rest on Biello and his coaching staff heading into Sunday, as they have to do a better job getting the most out of their gifted attacking players. Buildup (or at least organized counterattacking) is what is going to beat Mexico, so they have to find more creative ways to get the likes of Buchanan, Brym and Bair involved.
Overall, I left Thursday’s double header very encouraged about the state of the Canadian National Team setup, although I do feel like the U-23’s missed a big opportunity to snag first place in their group.
As much as it would probably hurt the Whitecaps, the Olympics would be great experience for this young crop of Canadian players. There’s still an outside chance they sneak in, but Mexico has looked pretty mighty so far in this tournament.
Shameless Self Promotion
Get involved with our pre-season roundtable video series if you haven’t already:
Best of the Rest
Waking the Red put together some quality CANMNT thoughts, and Between the Sticks perfectly encapsulates the vibe heading into Sunday: