Good Friday morning Caps fans, the last column for July is here and it is a sign that summer is slipping away slowly but surely.
The Gold Cup too is marching on and it brought defeat for the Canadian side, although not after a valiant fight. The match featured a heroic performance from Max Crepeau to keep the Canadians in it but Hector Herrera broke their resolve with a late, late winner.
Overall, Canada held up very well against a pretty well stocked Mexico team, with a bright start halted only by a Mexico penalty. Crepeau was equal to a second Mexico penalty later and Tajon Buchanan provided what was a fairly well-deserved equalizer.
Buchanan was perhaps the highlight of the tournament for the Canadians, building on a string of strong performances, both for club and country. John Herdman after the match expressed hope for a Premier League or Bundesliga move for Buchanan and while that might be a bit lofty, a spot in a top five league in Europe seems to be coming sooner rather than later for the youngster.
Overall, it was the tournament Canada expected to have in the last Gold Cup before flaming out against Haiti — without their two best attacking players this time around. Herdman showed some tactical evolution against Mexico and generally was pretty astute in how he handled matches against CONCACAF’s best teams — something which bodes well for the World Cup Qualifiers in the fall.
Indeed, Canada now has to be a favorite to snag the last qualifying spot in a year in which there are a lot of question marks of the field. Costa Rica and Honduras are not as strong as years past and Jamaica have a top flight player (Leon Bailey) who isn’t quite as good for his country as in the Bundesliga. El Salvador had a convincing Gold Cup and could be an intriguing prospect in qualifying but haven’t actually made it to a World Cup since 1982.
Heck, the Canadians have turned in convincing performances against the U.S. and Mexico recently now, meaning those matches are certainly a chance to nab some points.
CONCACAF qualifying is, of course, pure chaos. Nothing is assured (stares intently at Trinidad and Tobago) and it is entirely possible things fall apart in Canada’s first serious qualifying foray in a number of years. But the Gold Cup showed this is a side with both talent, grit and an ability to embrace the CONCACAF-ness of it all. As a (somewhat) neutral observer, I’m excited to see what that means come September.
A brief shoutout to the Canadian women as well, who got by Brazil in a penalty shootout. Their next opponent? The Americans, who have not looked as convincing as usual. Should be an entertaining tie that will make me nervous as hell.
Shameless Self Promotion
Caleb makes a (well-reasoned) argument for Thomas Hasal to continue to play a key goalkeeping role going forward, based off his stats while spelling Max Crepeau.
Best of the Rest
All 3 Canadian MLS clubs will host their remaining matches in Canada, with official approval from the government
More on Canada’s late defeat if you want to relive the heartbreak
Inter Miami are floundering in year two in a way that is borderline comical/tragic. More on how it all went wrong
Austin FC signed former River Plate and Zenit St. Petersburg man Sebastian Driussi as a designated player. Seems like good business (and somehow the guy is still only 25-years-old)
A cool oral history of Canada’s 2000 Gold Cup victory and how it did (or didn’t) affect soccer’s popularity in the country