Voices: Greg Seltzer

Canada player ratings: Tajon Buchanan, Maxime Crepeau shine in Gold Cup semifinal

Canada missed a chance to play their first Concacaf Gold Cup Final in over two decades by dropping a 2-1 decision to Mexico near the death of a tense semifinal affair in Houston.

Tata Martino's boys leaned hard on the Canucks during the opening period, but still needed a gift of a spot-kick in added time to grab the lead. Canada changed things up after intermission, and the resulting tide turn saw Tajon Buchanan pull them level with a doozy of an individual effort.

The game was there for the taking over the final half-hour and change, but the Great White North bubble eventually burst just when the game looked headed for extra-time.

Canada Men's National Team Player Ratings


With the game heating up in the second half, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC goalkeeper twice kept his side level with big saves. Crepeau held his nerve to stop a penalty midway through the frame, and he temporarily put off punishment with a great reaction stop in stoppage time.

As they tend to do, Mexico put the opposing right back under some duress throughout the night. Johnston battled them tougher as the game progressed to come up with a few hard-nosed interventions.


On one hand, the big center back put in a lot of good work at the back – and Henry dutifully disposed of every aerial cross that came his way. On the other, a reckless penalty foul in a tied semifinal always draws a big red mark on your report card.


The CF Montréal defender stood up well to the Mexico swarm on several occasions, and he broke pressure when it was needed most a few times.

Richie Laryea
Midfielder · Canada

The wingback is such a disruptive force when he sails toward the opposing area, so it's a shame that Canada didn't set him loose more often. When Laryea did jump into attack with mayhem in his eyes, Mexico was often able to crowd him enough to dull his impact.


The midfielder was among the tournament's top performers coming into this semifinal, but it was not to be his night. Mexico did a great job of keeping him out of positions to hurt them with the ball, and the rare chances that did come for him to play a killer final ball ended in major letdowns. To top off a rough outing, Eustaquio failed to protect the lane that led to match-winner Hector Herrera.


While the penalty foul could be considered harsh, there was no point in Kaye making contact on a guy dribbling out of the side of the area when both he and Canada were seconds from escaping a difficult first half unscathed. The midfielder struggled to slow El Tri down in the first half, but improved in this regard after the break. Of course, his grade also got a boost thanks to the fine lead ball that unleashed Buchanan for the leveler.


The Toronto FC midfielder came up with the odd burst forward, but could not help fashion any chances. Osorio probably could have also provided more when Mexico had the ball out wide.

It would be very interesting to see how this game turns out if the New England Revolution speedster had played in an advanced position from the start (or even earlier). Buchanan made a few plays before the interval, but was an absolute nightmare for Mexico after being pushed up-field in the second half. His game-tying goal was special, and he continued to threaten after it.

The veteran playmaker was always looking to move the team forward, and even dropped far deeper than he normally would to help relieve Mexico pressure. The big play, however, eluded Hoilett.

The Orlando City SC forward was able to do some positive things in transition, but such opportunities came few and far between for long stretches of Akindele’s 69 minutes.

John Herdman

The Canada manager earned his paycheck at halftime, as his adjustments came close to producing an upset. Pushing Buchanan into a sort of support forward role was the masterstroke that pulled El Tri out of their game plan and produced the equalizer. Considering all the big-name absences, getting Les Rouges to trade blows with Mexico in a contest that sometimes looked like a hockey game was a significant feat.


Liam Fraser
Midfielder · Canada

The midfield sub had a negligible effect distributing the ball and erred by wandering out of the passing lane that proved Canada's downfall to a spot where Fraser wasn't needed.


The teenage winger injected energy into his side and wasn't too far away from deftly picking the far corner with a sneaky shot.