The men’s national team has a talented group
Slowly, Canada is building itself a reputation on the world soccer stage. Currently 78th in the global rankings, the national team’s highest position since 2012, the country qualified for the Concacaf Nations League Group A, completing the qualifying stage with a perfect record, and despite failing to make it to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, got to the quarterfinal round of the last edition of the continental tournament, in 2017. Now, as the 2019 Gold Cup is about to kick off, taking place from June 15 to July 7 mostly in the USA, with some games being played in Costa Rica and Jamaica, head coach John Herdman’s troops, which include Impact players Zachary Brault-Guillard and Samuel Piette, probably form the most talented team in the national program’s history. And they have not lost since 2017.
Of course, Piette, an undisputed starter who has already played 41 games with the Reds, will be vital in front of an increasingly confident defensive unit, that has allowed just a goal in four qualifying games for the Nations League. He’ll patrol midfield with the experienced Atiba Hutchinson and the dynamic Scott Arfied, while TFC’s Jonathan Osorio and LAFC’s Mark-Anthony Kaye are also in the picture. On the wings, we find Alphonso Davies, the Bayern Munich man and defending Golden Boot winner at the last Gold Cup, who had also won the Young Player award two years ago. He’ll be joined in the attacking department by Junior Hoilett, who played his football in the English Premier League this season with Cardiff City, Lucas Cavallini, an important figure for the national team in the past few years, Cyle Larin, the former Orlando City SC man now at Besiktas, and by Jonathan David, the 19-year-old sensation from Ottawa who’s been turning heads since his professional debut with Gent, in Belgium.
“With the team we have, the players on the roster, the quality, and a coaching staff dedicated to bringing us to the next level, I think we can have an excellent tournament,” insisted Piette. “In 2017, reaching the quarterfinal was a good result, and we could’ve beaten Jamaica. I think we can progress even further than last time.”
With two continental titles and one Gold Cup win, in 2000, Canada’s best result in the past 10 years came in the last tournament, bowing out in the quarterfinal following a tight matchup against Jamaica. This year, with Cuba, Martinique, and Mexico in their group, the Canadians are expected to progress, although finishing first will be a challenge against El Tri.
“I’m honored and proud to represent Canada at the Gold Cup; it’s a new experience for me in my young career,” said Brault-Guillard. “We have a good collective group, talented individuals, and we all get along well. John Herdman has a good plan in place. We’re good in every position, we have quality and we’re a young team. We’re solid defensively and offensively. We’ll do everything in our power to get a good result and make the country proud.”
A new era for the Canadian Men’s national team is already underway, but for many, the 2019 Gold Cup will be a first chance to see the Reds in action, and it starts on June 15, at 7:30pm against Martinique, at the Rose Bowl, in Pasadena. We suggest jumping on the Canadian bandwagon right now; with the 2026 World Cup taking place in all three countries in North America, we should see Canada among the big teams before long.