There’s never been a better Canadian men’s soccer team than the one currently hitting the pitch. The Canadian men haven’t clinched a World Cup birth since 1986 and after a strong showing in Edmonton for the World Cup qualifiers, the team is poised to finally overcome that drought.
Despite the strong performance and the huge 2-1 victory over Mexico at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton last week, there’s still more games in the final round of the qualifiers to win before they finally punch their ticket.
After the first eight games, the Canadians lead the CONCACAF qualifiers with four wins and four draws, good for 16 points. With three direct slots and one inter-confederation play-off slot in the final tournament are available for CONCACAF teams, the Americans are in second with 15 points, while Mexico and Panama are tied with 14.
In the final round, each of the eight remaining teams play a home and away against each other team for a total of 14 games. The top three teams then would be awarded a spot in the World Cup while the fourth-place team can get in by winning a two-leg playoff against another team from another continent.
The team now turns its focus to the new year where they have six more games on the schedule. On Jan. 27, the face-off against Honduras on the road, Jan. 30 is against the USA at home, Feb. 2 they meet El Salvador as the away team, March 24 is on the road against Costa Rica, March 27 sees a match against Jamaica in Canada, and they finish off against Panama as the away team.
So a lot of tough matches are still on the horizon for the club, but the good news is they have set themselves up beautifully heading into the final six games.
In those first eight games of the final round, the Canadians have scored 13 goals and only given up five. So far, so good for the Canadians. But, now with a break in between their next game, they have plenty of time to refocus on the task at hand.
The biggest factor has to be the fact four out of six games are on the road, with only two more at home in Canada. But while that might be a concern, the Canadians have already proven they can play just as well on the road. They walked away with a huge 1-1 tie in Mexico and 1-1 against the US. They may not have won, but those points were huge against arguably the best competition in the qualifiers.
I don’t profess to be a huge soccer nerd, but this team is infectious. The game in Edmonton against Mexico was electric and if this team gets into the World Cup, I suspect tons of Canadians tune in and this team would deserve that.
Obviously, Alphonso Davies gets a lot of talk, as he should, but the entire team is more than worthy of discussion. Cyle Larin leads the top scorers race in the CONCACAF with 11 goals while Jonathan David has seven, good for third. Davies has five, which is tied for fifth. Davies leads with eight assists, while David (four), Tajon Buchanan, Mark-Anthony Kaye, and David Wotherspoon have three. Canadian names can be found throughout the stats leaders.
And after their strong performance in the final round of the qualifiers, the Canadians have jumped eight spots in the FIFA world rankings to 40.
It’s an exciting time to not only be a Canadian soccer fan, but also just to be a fan of Canadian sports. Soccer may not be the first sport people think of when talking about Canada, but the men and women’s national teams continue to improve year and year. It may just be time to finally start considering Canada as a soccer nation.