SANDY, Utah - The Canada Under-23 national team did all they could for 70 minutes, but a one-player disadvantage was too much to overcome.
Canada dropped a 2-0 result to the United States in the third-place match of the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship Tuesday night, playing the entire second half with only 10 players due to a red card. Their Olympic hopes were officially dashed in the 70th minute, when US left back Marc Pelosi scored the game-winning goal.
“For sure we’re disappointed,” Canada captain Samuel Piette said after the match. “With a man down, it’s pretty tough for us to try and win the game. Our plan was to let them play the first half and then try to play more the second half, which was pretty tough with a man down. But I’m really proud of all of the guys, because we did really well keeping them in front of us. They didn’t score a goal before the 70th minute, so that was good for us, but then we conceded an unlucky goal.”
Pelosi blasted his goal from outside the box, pinging it off a Canadian defender and into the roof of the net, giving Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau no chance. Canada coach Benito Floro spoke specifically about luck, saying that it certainly was not on his team’s side.
“Soccer is a game, and in any game, you need luck,” Floro said. “We didn’t have luck in our game against Mexico either. [Canada] needed something special to allow us to continue our tactical plan. Today, the beginning was not that good, but step by step, we went ahead with our plan because it was similar to Mexico in regards to waiting for the last 15 minutes to find the ball and go. But with one player less, it’s very difficult to do that.”
Despite the US dominance in possession, Canada did a good job of absorbing that pressure and diffusing the most dangerous opportunities. Floro praised his players’ tactical discipline, saying they executed the plan as best they could, considering the circumstances.
“I thought the players were tactically perfect,” Floro said. “The only matter is to maintain possession when we receive the ball with our wingers and our forwards and to take advantage of set pieces. The players understood the plan and fought the whole game to achieve it, so I’m very happy with them.”