TORONTO – Canada’s comfortable win over Dominica in World Cup qualifying was hardly a surprise – but it was still an important step on the road back to respectability.
The Canadians advanced to the next round with a 6-0 aggregate win over the tiny Caribbean nation, finished off with a 4-0 win at BMO Field in the second leg on Tuesday. Although pleased, Canada head coach Benito Floro said the team still was not exactly where it needed to be with the important CONCACAF Gold Cup coming up next month.
“It’s not easy to win both games without any goals for Dominica,” Floro told reporters after the game. “[These games have] been a pretty good test, a pretty good example to increase several of our tactical matters, and we are happy with the result.”
Floro said that he would like to see his team continue to work on aggressively pressing the opponent throughout games, something he has stressed on multiple occasions in the past. He said that this tactical approach is the main reason that Portland Timbers midfielder Will Johnson, just coming off a broken leg after an eight-month layoff, didn’t feature in either of the games against Dominica.
“He recognized that our team, in this moment, we need to have a strong effort in the participation in the press, continuous,” said Floro. “He’s a good professional with a good desire to always play well and in this moment, maybe he needs to increase the level step by step.”
Veteran midfielder Julian de Guzman, now playing in his fourth World Cup qualifying cycle for Canada, was pleased to see his squad give itself some momentum heading into the Gold Cup and the next stages of World Cup qualifying.
“Definitely a small step but you approach these games no different than you would if it was against the U.S. It’s a World Cup qualifier,” he said. “It’s early stages and we still have a lot more to prove, but I believe every step of the way, we’re getting stronger.”
Floro said that if his players can come into the Gold Cup fit and focused, that they can make an impact at the tournament. Either way, Canada – who has now won four straight games for the first time since 2009 – is seemingly closing the door on a difficult two-year period and moving ahead with a renewed sense of purpose and confidence.
“It’s one step to us,” said Floro. “If teams want to [beat] us, they must fight a lot. They must play better than us. I believe in our team.”