November 20th Edition

CanMNT look to qualify for Copa America on Tuesday & Lessons from Canada's failed U-17 World Cup

CanMNT look to qualify for Copa America on Tuesday & Lessons from Canada’s failed U-17 World Cup

Weekends just feel better when there’s a national team W don’t they? 

On Saturday morning, CanMNT took care of business down in Jamaica with a 2-1 W and now are just a win/draw/1-0 loss (or 2-1 loss and win on PKs if we wanna be nerds about it), away from the 2024 Copa America and getting back to the Concacaf Nations League final four.

It should have everyone stoked for a little bit of home cooking at BMO Field on Tuesday, and a chance for another epic night against Jamaica in Toronto.

That, plus so much more, ahead in The Northern Pitch.

Photo: Canada Soccer

The kings of Concacaf are back. 

There wasn’t anything smash and grab about this effort. Canada went into Kingston, Jamaica on Saturday morning, and for the first time in 35 years came out with a W, one that puts them up 2-1 on aggregate in the Concacaf Nations League quarter-finals.

It took a while to get there. Canada fans saw OneSoccer turn into the Weather Network on Friday night as rain and lightning twice delayed and then fully postponed the match that was initially supposed to kick off at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Instead, it was played in the heat of the day on a still pretty sketchy pitch (although, honestly, considering the level of rain on Friday, could have been a lot worse, shoutout grounds crew) on Saturday morning that claimed the hamstring of Jamaica star attacker Michail Antonio less than 17 minutes into the match.

Canada no doubt took some time to adjust to the conditions, and the fact that any breakaway they had was quickly gobbled up by the uneven surface. But before half-time Cyle Larin put the Jamaican backline in the spin cycle and set up JD. The Iceman isn’t missing from there (be quiet, Lille fans, we won’t hear it).

The boys looked like they were cruising to a W when out of nowhere Jamaica hit them with a quickly taken free kick that completely caught them off guard. The saying is play to the whistle, but like it’s kinda hard when that whistle never even comes. Nonetheless, Canada need to stay more switched on in those moments.

That goal might have been an important moment, however, as it forced the lads to dig deep, and they did. Richie Laryea somehow found the gas to make a crazy run down the right flank, and squared for Stephen Eustáquio who showed that Champions League composure to give Canada the W.

It wasn’t a perfect performance, in general set pieces remain a concern. Please stop letting Phonzie take them, I mean Eustáquio is right there just waiting to serve up delicious crosses into the box.

But a 2-1 lead headed back to BMO on Tuesday, considering Canada has never lost to Jamaica on home soil, is a pretty big confidence boost. They are halfway there, and getting the job done would mean a Copa America spot secured.

Photo: Canada Soccer

The kids aren’t alright, or so you would be led to believe if you tapped in to Canada Soccer twitter early this week as the U-17 national team went three-and-out at the World Cup.

After a reasonably solid 2-0 loss to Spain, despite being down to 10 men, in the opening match of the tournament, Canada lost 3-0 to Uzbekistan before being outclassed 5-1 by Mali in their group stage finale.

For one, the under-17 level is never worth overreacting to, because it is so early in player’s careers. Look at past Canadian Under-17 sides, or any national team for that matter, and only a handful of players, if that, ever reach the senior side in any significant role.

More than anything, tournaments like this are about giving those few young players who will eventually suit up for the CanMNT experience at the international level. In the lead up to these matches Canada played two games against Brazil and one against Argentina, that’s a positive from an experience standpoint. There were also certainly some bright spots talent wise, as Toronto FC’s Richard Chukwu, Vancouver FC’s TJ Tahid, Forge’s Kevaughn Tavernier and Whitecaps midfielder Jeevan Badwal in particular showed their quality.

It is now about making sure these experiences are good enough, as well as the relationships and friendships they form, for those players that when the time comes to commit to Canada they feel like that is the right move. Getting dominated for three straight matches and then sent packing doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, which also shows the importance that maybe catching a W every once in a while has at this level.

Some ideas for how to change that? Maybe stop just sending the Toronto FC academy to this tournament and calling it the Canadian men’s national team. There were more TFC academy players at the U-17 World Cup than from any other club (10). That was considered a point of pride for some, but with the how the Canadian team has performed in the past when made up of largely MLS academies, plus TFC’s poor player development record in general, it kind of speaks for itself.

There are no shortage of excellent young Canadian ballers in the League1 system, private academies, and even European academies as well. This is a stage that they might not get otherwise, and is equally beneficial for the clubs that they play for to get that international shine. The search for talent just needs to be more extensive, something that the lack of camps for these teams certainly doesn’t help.

It also might be time to consider a change to the coaching staff at the Canadian youth level, something that hopefully the new General Secretary will have on his ever-growing to do list. With the League1, CPL, and academy system growing there are more quality and qualified coaches in Canada than ever before.

Canada’s performance at the U-17 World Cup doesn’t mean that our player development system is broken (although we all know it still needs a lot of work), it doesn’t mean there aren’t still a BUNCH of young ballers from coast to coast. But something has to change in the way this team is approached, no question.

Other news this week

🐐 Christine Sinclair will play in front of 35,000 fans at BC Place. The last dance for Canada’s greatest athlete. Before she hangs her boots, Christine will play in her native province at Vancouver Island’s Starlight Stadium and Vancouver’s BC Place. The game at Starlight Stadium sold out in eight minutes while BC Place sold over 35 000 tickets. With a capacity of 54,500, there is still room for the game. Get your tickets and watch the final game of Canada’s GOAT grace the pitch for the final time. It’s history.

🌊 Vancouver Whitecaps are aiming to retain Richie Laryea and Junior Hoilett. VWFC had the most exciting transfers among Canadian clubs this summer. They brought big Canadian players such as Sam Adekugbe, Richie Laryea and Junior Hoilett. However, this is the most exciting time of the off-season—a fabulous period of contract negotiation. The Caps are going to bolster their squad, make another run to the playoffs, and become title contenders. The first order of business is to solidify a permanent move for Richie from Nottingham Forest and negotiate a new contract with Junior Hoilett and Russell Teibert. So far, Vancouver’s transfer policy remains the most effective in Canada.

🥩 Mark-Anthony Kaye opens up about beef with John Herdman. Calling it a beef may be slightly exaggerated, but there was tension between the two. Since Herman became coach in 2018, MAK enjoyed ample game time and started in one game at the World Cup. Since then, Kaye went from a regular feature in the midfield to a surplus that wasn’t getting called up. Something that Kaye had questioned and was confused by the lack of game time. He remarked that some players who were not playing or performing well at their clubs were being selected over him. MAK opened up with John Molinaro on his relationship with the former gaffer on Sportsnet. The story unravels the relationship between player and coach and dives into its effect on Kaye’s personal life.

📋 Chris Armas was hired as the new Colorado manager. Former Toronto FC coach, Leeds United and Manchester United assistant coach has been hired as Colorado Rapids' new manager. This means Pa-Modou Kah would be available for the CF Montréal job. The CPL-winning coach is currently the assistant coach of Charlotte FC and was among the finalists for the Colorado job. However, with Chris Armas as the new manager, Kah could fully focus on getting the MTL manager position.

🇬🇾 Osaze De Rosario has committed to Guyana. The York United forward has accepted Guyana’s call-up for CONCACAF Nations League B matches. The son of Canadian men’s national team legend Dwayne De Rosario, Osaze was also eligible to represent both Canada and the United States. He will potentially feature in Guyana’s games against the Bahamas and Antigua and Barbuda. As selection into Canada’s national team becomes more competitive, many players will fall through the cracks and try their luck elsewhere—one of the realities of growth.

👀 Project8 drops a teaser on X. The people pushing for professional female Canadian football in Canada have dropped an image on their feed. What does this mean? We’re not entirely sure. Are they teasing the future owner of a club? Or even a GM? Time will tell, but Project8 is cooking something up, and we’re here for it.

Photo: AS Roma

⚽️ As the men enter the international break, one club competition captures our attention: the UEFA Women's Champions League. Canadians have featured in this elite competition in some highly rated matchups. There have been Ls, draws and Ws. These games are also played live on YouTube for free!

😬 Barcelona defeated Marie-Yasmine Alidou and Benfica 5-0. It was a bad night for the Montrealer and her Portuguese club. Marie-Yasmine featured in the starting lineup for Benfica but was dispatched by a superior side with a history of performing in this competition. Highlights of the game can be found here.

💪 Slavia Praha hosted Olympique Lyonnais in a high-scoring affair. When we say high scoring, it was really a one-sided affair. OL gave a comprehensive L to the home side as they defeated the Czech club 9-0. Ouch indeed. Vanessa Gilles was among the starters of OL and also among the scorers. She scored twice against Slavia Praha, which tied her for the UWCL Golden Boot.

👏 Evelyne Viens and AS Roma travelled to Munich. Playing Bayern Munich at home will be a gruelling affair if there's any universal truth. Only the most elite can walk away with a win. The home team was leading 2-0 before the half. However, Roma started to display elite football as they bounced back in the second half with two goals. Evelyne Viens scored in the 58th minute and contributed to Manuela Giugliano's equalizer in stoppage time. The game ended as Bayern Munich drew 2-2 with Roma.

👀 Real Madrid hosted Chelsea in one of the most exciting matchups of the first round of UWCL. Jessie Fleming and Ashley featured in the starting lineup for Chelsea, while Kadeisha Buchanan was on the bench. Lawrence assisted Chelsea’s first goal with a cross to the far post headed in by NiamhCharles. While Fleming was involved in Chelsea’s second goal. Unfortunately. Canada’s creative playmaker conceded a penalty with a tackle in the box. One could argue that the initial tackle was outside the box. Upon Northern Pitch VAR revision, we would agree the foul was outside the box. Real Madrid held Chelsea to a 2-2 draw with a brace from Olga Carmona.

Northern Picks

Gems from at home and across the pond.
This week’s picks come from Adrian Sousa (@RabonaTV)

Adrian Sousa is a football explainer who breaks down various game subjects on his YouTube channel Rabona TV. Hailing from British Columbia, Adrian is a lifelong Benfica fan and a bit of a foodie! His analysis of football is deep, comprehensive and passionate. Rabona TV explores football like no one else.

📚 What to read

I’ve just finished reading ‘Football in Sun and Shadow’ by Eduardo Galeano, a Uruguayan journalist and writer. The writing style is different from that of any other football book I’ve read, as it borders on poetry half the time as he walks you through the entire history of the game, including the ancient history of China, Egypt, etc. 

Prior to that, I recently read ‘The Mountain is You: Transforming Self-Sabotage into Self-Mastery’ by Brianna Wiest. I’m someone who gets in their way sometimes - especially when it comes to belief in my own ability and confidence - so this book was especially helpful in identifying those tendencies and providing tools to combat self-sabotage.

📺 What to watch

I watched the Beckham documentary on Netflix, which I believe the entire world has seen at this point. But beyond that, my footy documentary intake has been low. I took on Cyberpunk: Edgerunners recently, and the critical acclaim is justified! I’m not an anime dude but this was an incredible show. It helps to be a fan of the game, but it’s not a prerequisite; anyone could get something out of it (and is in danger of crying).

🎧 What to listen to

I’ve honestly fallen out of the music cycle now, my Spotify Wrapped is going to be cooked, thanks to all of the isochronic tones that I listen to while I work. But I’m still on the podcast grind, and the recent changes that The Athletic made to The Athletic Football Podcast have really kept me in it. Ayo Akinwolere, the new host, is incredible, and they break down some of the biggest stories in the game daily. All of the big boys join him: Adam Crafton, David Ornstein, etc. It's worth a listen for your daily dose of football!

✅ Who to follow

@thepaddedseat has been a fun follow! They go to stadiums around the world and at all levels of the game and indulge in/review their VIP or hospitality packages. From teams in the 4th tier of English football all the way to the very, very top of the pyramid. It’s interesting to see some of the more “humble” clubs’ VIP packages where it feels like you’re watching football from your grandmother’s home.