John Herdman urges Canada must "get serious about winning a World Cup"


The Canadian men’s national team’s wait for a trophy will continue after losing 2-0 to the United States in the 2023 Concacaf Nations League final on Sunday.

Here are three things we learned about Canada as they further lay the groundwork for co-hosting the 2026 World Cup.

Herdman demands more

Having had 10 days of preparation before the finals in Las Vegas, the US were clearly well-drilled. Everything from their tactical work to the set pieces looked incredibly flawless, both in their 3-0 semifinal win over Mexico and when a trophy was on the line against Canada.

“The US were unbelievable on set pieces,” said Canada head coach John Herdman postgame. “We were there by fingernails. The organization, the timing, the variety was so difficult to deal with.”

Compared to the US, Canada only had four days to prepare, which meant far less time to tweak certain areas.

“There's no time,” Herdman lamented. “We need the resources where we can actually put a camp together, where I can work for six days on the things that will make the biggest difference moving forward.”

That was a major theme in Herdman’s post-match press conference: getting more resources from the federation to ensure his team is adequately prepared for future opportunities.

The financial struggles of Canada Soccer have been well-documented. It’s led to ongoing labor disputes with their men’s and women’s national teams, and now Herdman is questioning whether the federation is serious about building towards a home World Cup in 2026.

“We’ve got the best generation of players we’ve had and there’s more coming,” said Herdman. “You can see it. Ismaël Koné just dropped out of the sky, Tajon Buchanan just dropped out of the sky, Alistair Johnston. It’s coming. We’ve got to figure this out financially.

“We've got to get serious about winning a World Cup,” Herdman continued. “When you play at home you get a chance to win it. … We've brought a World Cup to our country and we're not serious about winning it. And you see how close that team is tonight. Tactically we were there, chances, shots we were there. The margins were so tight tonight, so tight.

“We've got to get real and quick because these players, they deserve it,” Herdman declared. “They deserve a shot. The country deserves it. All the people that worked to bring it deserve the shot. Let's get after it. We're close.”

With Canada’s 2023 Gold Cup opener set for June 27 and a couple of pivotal international windows coming up this fall, a transformative few months for Canadian soccer could await.

So close yet so far

The chances might not have registered in the total shots category, but the ball did fall favorably to the Canadians more than once. It happened in the 37th minute when the ball fizzed across the six-yard box, only for Cyle Larin and Jonathan David to arrive a step too late. Then there was a late corner on the brink of halftime that avoided a player in black, as well as Larin’s double chance in the 65th minute.

On the other end, the hosts ruthlessly converted two quality chances through Chris Richards and Folarin Balogun to coast to victory.

“We had a lot of chances,” said Herdman. “Just didn’t take them. I thought there were some moments there where if we took our chances, it would be a different game.”

It was another sobering lesson for Canada during their first final in 23 years. As far as they’ve come over the last two years, these games test the mettle of any side. There are bound to be hiccups for a group that’s experiencing this moment together for the first time.

“We left it all out there,” said Herdman. “I thought Canada gave a great account of themselves in a final. … But the US, they took care of business. They were very resolute tonight and defensively sound.”

If history’s any indicator, this is a team that learns quickly from these experiences. Their 2021 Gold Cup semifinal run finished in heartbreak with a last-minute winner for Mexico, then Canada topped World Cup qualifying less than a year later.

That same tournament returns in five days’ time. Perhaps it’ll be Canada’s chance at redemption and it’ll be second time lucky for Les Rouges.

Stars kept quiet

Largely due to a staunch defensive performance from the US backline, Canada’s stars – who were integral to the 2-0 semifinal win over Panama – failed to produce the same impact on Sunday.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying, as Alphonso Davies tried to find Larin and David several times, only for an American defender to intervene at the last second. The strikers were also making good runs and tried to create separation.

It just wasn’t happening for the stars on Sunday, and that’s where the plaudits go out to the US defenders for a job well done.

“We just didn’t capitalize on big moments,” said Herdman. “I think if we had, it’s a different game. I felt it was a different game. I felt Canada was right there tonight, right there.”