Canada have one foot in Concacaf's octagonal stage of World Cup qualifying after securing a 1-0 win over Haiti on Saturday evening at Sylvio Cator Stadium in Port-au-Prince.
Cyle Larin's first-half goal was the difference in Leg One of the Second Round series, with Les Rouges now holding the aggregate advantage before the all-decisive second leg gets played June 15 at SeatGeek Stadium, the former home of Chicago Fire FC.
After a dicey start to the match produced a yellow card as soon as the 2nd minute, Larin broke the deadlock in the 14th minute when Jonathan Osorio sent in a cross from the right flank. The Toronto FC midfielder's ball bounced across Haiti's six-yard box and onto the foot of the former Orlando City SC forward, who tapped into an empty net.
Johny Placide kept Les Grenadiers in the game early in the second half by stopping Jonathan David's breakaway opportunity. The Lille OSC striker tried to lift the ball over the goalkeeper, but Haiti's captain extended an arm and denied Canada's attempt at an insurance goal.
Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan made a big save of his own a few seconds later when Haiti striker Frantzdy Pierrot tried his luck with a bicycle kick from the penalty spot. The Guingamp forward sent the ball toward the upper left-hand corner, but Borjan pawed Pierrot's shot out for a corner kick.
Les Rouges kept fighting fire with fire by attacking Haiti, even late in the game. Alphonso Davies created a foul and a free-kick opportunity in the 88th minute after his run was abruptly stopped by a standing tackle from Jems Geffrard. Placide once again denied a second Canadian goal, this time from defender Scott Kennedy.
Haiti received a free-kick opportunity at the very end of second-half stoppage time. Borjan made an easy save near the penalty spot before the referee ended the first 90 minutes of the home-and-home series, giving head coach John Herdman's team a dream result.
- 14' — CAN — Cyle Larin
- THE BIG PICTURE: Canada understands that this is a home-and-home series, but they’ll be happy that the monkey is officially off their back. Les Rouges finally got revenge against Haiti after their emotional 3-2 loss back at the 2019 Gold Cup. With an away goal in their back pockets, the Canadians head to Chicago for Leg Two, holding the advantage while trying to punch their ticket to the octagonal stage.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Canada were aggressive from the get-go and took the lead only 14 minutes in. Cyle Larin tapped in a cross from Jonathan Osorio to find the opening and game-winning goal.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Cyle Larin found Canada's lone goal. It wasn't the flashiest strike from the Besiktas forward, but it was remarkably important.
- CAN: Tuesday, June 15 vs. Haiti | 9 pm ET (Paramount +, OneSoccer) | World Cup Qualifying, Second Round