In their biggest test in the John Herdman era, Canada outshot (11-6) and out-possessed Uruguay (55%-45%), but ultimately couldn’t break through a stingy Uruguayan backline. Liverpool FC star Darwin Núñez and River Plate attacking midfielder Nicolás de la Cruz exhibited their quality, scoring for Uruguay.
Here’s how John Herdman’s squad fared less than two months before Group F play begins at Qatar 2022, opening Nov. 23 against Belgium.
Borjan conceded off a well-placed free kick from distance – a goal the Red Star Belgrade veteran would want to have back – but there wasn’t much the Canadian goalkeeper could do on Darwin Núñez’s close-range header. One positive takeaway was Borjan’s ability to step up and clear a few half-chances that could have turned out to be bigger threats had he not swept them away.
Defensively, Adekugbe allowed space and danger down the left flank. However, moving forward, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC homegrown product showed signs of promise, in particular when he linked up with Davies.
At 35 years of age, pace may prove to be an issue for Vitória, but it’s hard to point the finger at him for either of Uruguay’s goals. All said, a decent shift for the veteran center back.
A bad challenge from Miller led to Uruguay’s opener, but the CF Montréal defender rebounded with a number of sturdy tackles to stifle Uruguay’s counter-attack. His physical presence at the back will be crucial to Canada moving forward.
Eustáquio was the main reason Canada out-possessed Uruguay. The FC Porto midfielder started the game off sharp in the first half before fatigue began to set in. With a complete performance, he is Canada’s best and most important central midfielder.
After a strong performance against Qatar in a two-man midfield on Friday, Piette struggled against a bigger test in Uruguay. With less time on the ball, the CF Montréal standout found it difficult to cope at times, connecting on 84.6% of his passes as opposed to 95.7% last time out.
Big-time players step up for big-time games, and Alphonso Davies took his game to another level on Tuesday. The former Vancouver Whitecaps FC and current Bayern Munich star was lively down the left flank and showed that he’s been here before, that he’s played in big matches – against big opponents – before. Davies was arguably the best player on the pitch for both teams on Tuesday.
Like Davies, David’s experience playing for Lille shone through as he was one of the better players on the pitch for both teams. His movement off the ball and ability to keep possession in tight areas will continue to be a huge asset for Canada for years to come.
Larin’s physical presence up top was a nuisance for Uruguay's backline, yet the former Orlando City SC striker never really looked like he was on the verge of scoring. He’s hoping to earn more minutes for his new domestic side Club Brugge in Belgium, and perhaps this camp re-instills confidence in the Canadian men’s national team's all-time leading scorer.
Herdman and his team will have a lot to dissect following Tuesday's match. While his team allowed a pair of goals in the first half, there were plenty of positives to take away from Canada's performance. Nevertheless, any time you concede twice within the first 33 minutes, you have to wonder what went wrong. Like his players, Herdman will use this as a learning opportunity and a chance to grow moving forward.
Hoilett checked into the match at halftime and was tasked with playing right wingback. And while he was solid on Friday vs. Qatar, he didn't make much of a difference on Tuesday night. Nevertheless, the veteran versatile midfielder will play an important role for John Herdman’s side heading into the World Cup.
For the second straight match, the CF Montréal youngster featured, checking into the match in the 55th minute. Like Friday's game against Qatar, Koné showed why head coach John Herdman is so high on him, holding his own in the heart of midfield. The 20-year-old has emerged as a legitimate candidate to get meaningful minutes in Qatar.
In back-to-back matches, Ugbo was the first striker off the bench for John Herdman. While he didn't make much of an impact in his 16+ minutes on the pitch, the 24-year-old forward is clearly in Herdman's inner circle and is a safe bet to crack Canada's 26-man roster in November.
Buchanan hasn't featured in a competitive match since Canada's Concacaf Nations League games in June, as the former New England Revolution star has been sidelined with a muscle injury. He only played 11 minutes, but it was a significant step in the right direction with the World Cup less than two months away.
Corbeanu earned just his seventh senior international cap, making his first appearance for Canada since the 2021 Gold Cup. The 20-year-old Blackpool winger, on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, showed his blistering pace down the right flank, but was it enough to convince Herdman that he should be on the plane to Qatar in November?