HOUSTON – It wasn’t pretty, but the Canadian national team was on the verge of a positive result.
Their attack had let them down for much of the day, but a combination of solid defense and a listless Jamaica frontline had them two minutes from a point and a clear path to qualification from Group B.
Then they switched off.
When Rodolph Austin’s 91st minute header splashed the back of the net to hand Jamaica a 1-0 win, the job for Canada – to take steps forward in this Gold Cup – got much harder. The issues were indicative of a team that showed it’s still learning how to play at a high level.
“It’s very frustrating to finish the game like this,” team captain Julian De Guzman said. “This was a great opportunity for us to walk out with a result. In the end we lost a little bit of concentration and conceded that goal that put us behind in the group.”
As the game dragged on, the heat and humidity in Houston wore head coach Benito Floro’s team down. And as it did, the chances for Jamaica started to flow.
“We gave away a lot of energy in the first half and leading into the second half we were already a bit gassed,” De Guzman said.
That heat was one of the issues that Floro pointed out after the game. Canada’s boss lauded his team for their start but conceded that, as the heat set in, they lost a step. His measured approach was to help his team recover from the loss immediately.
“It is true that when you receive a goal in the last minute … it seems something sad,” Floro said after the game. “Soccer is soccer and we need analyze the full game. We have opportunity. We fight a lot and we tried to prevent all the action Jamaica has. … Always positive.”
While the late goal hurts, the focus now shifts to Canada's Tuesday game versus Costa Rica. With one point to their name, Canada still have a chance to book passage to the knockout stages. They’ll need to beat another team that has a better track record than they do in the Ticos, even if the game is on home soil in Toronto.
“I know the guys don’t feel happy about the result. It’s just a matter of us bouncing back,” De Guzman said. “It just comes down to us getting a win against Costa Rica. We’re going to have the crowd behind us. The setting and the venue’s there for us. We still believe we can walk out of this group with four points.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.