HOUSTON – For the Canada national team, Saturday’s ugly and heart-wrenching 3-2 Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinal loss to Haiti will have to become a teaching moment

First, though, coach John Herdman and his squad must get over the pain of letting a two-goal halftime lead slip away.

“We will learn from this for sure, but it hurts, this bloody hurts,” Herdman said. “This was a good opportunity for our country to step forward and we’ve missed it.”

The victory halted Canada short of its pre-tournament goals, to qualify for the Gold Cup semifinals for the first time in 12 years and potentially even win the tournament for a second time. Canada is still the only nation other than the US and Mexico to win the Gold Cup, doing so in 2000.

The Canucks looked to have one foot in the semis by halftime after taking a 2-0 lead, only to help spark Haiti’s comeback with a poor backpass to goalkeeper Milan Borjan that was punished by Duckens Nazon.

From there, Canada were second-best until they were behind and eventually out of the tournament. It was a disorienting experience for a side that has a lot of talent, but also a lot of youth in crucial positions.

"It's a young team that is learning and growing, there’s a lot of young lads that this is their first Gold Cup, first time in a big moment,” Herdman said. “But it’s not to make excuses, we really got to look with in and make sure that there’s a real clarity of what we have to change.”

The areas Herdman pointed to weren’t particularly complicated: maintaining defensive discipline and matching an opponent’s aggression, or at least neutralizing it. He didn't feel his side did a particularly good job of either in the second 45 minutes.

“Coming against that sort of physicality there’s a real lesson to learn there about moving the ball quicker, about getting supports around players earlier, and not taking those situations to lightly,” he said.

Canada won’t have to wait too long to apply some of those lessons. They’ll play in a Concacaf Nations League A group against the US national team and Cuba, with four matches slated for this October through November.