TORONTO – With all to play for still in Group B, Tuesday night will see Canada have the opportunity to participate in a Gold Cup match on home soil for the first time in history, and perhaps the home cooking will give them the boost they need.
The organizers have done their bit to gift Canada the chance to play a critical contest in their own national soccer stadium. However, it'll be up to Benito Floro's men and their supporters to truly make the occasion a memorable one.
Despite the rocky start to the tournament with a scoreless draw against El Salvador and a late loss to Jamaica, a win against Costa Rica (8:30 pm ET, FOX Sports 1/UniMás/UDN in US; Sportsnet One/Sportsnet World in Canada) could put Canada through to the quarterfinals and, perhaps more importantly, potentially provide them a spot in next summer's Copa America Centenario.
“It just comes down to us getting a win against Costa Rica and the one advantage we have is that we’re playing at home,” said Canadian team captain Julian de Guzman after the team's loss on Saturday in Houston.
“We know that we’ll have the crowd behind us. We still believe that we can walk out of this group with four points.”
However, it remains to be seen whether the match in Toronto will truly foster any type of home field advantage for Les Rouges.
On numerous occasions in the past, opposing national teams have come into BMO Field and not only enjoyed more crowd support than the home side, but were able to pack even more fans in the stands than they do in their own backyards.
Players remain confident they'll get the support from the home crowd.
"I'm optimistic I guess as far as the fans go," said defender Nik Ledgerwood following the team's practice session in Toronto on Monday. "We'd certainly love to have them out. Hopefully the good turnout from the Women's World Cup trickles down and helps us out.
"As far as I've heard right now, 15,000 is the expectation for tomorrow, which is a little disappointing. But we're also not ranked top-10 in the world either."
Unlike the women's team, the men have rarely been able to garner the attention of the country, and a loss tomorrow will not help their cause.
"If you host a World Cup and are ranked 11th in the world, you're going to gather a good fanbase," Ledgerwood continued. "It'll be disappointing if there is not a big crowd tomorrow night though. A lot of people have worked hard to bring the Gold Cup to Toronto, and for that not to be seen would be hard."
Canada have not made it out of the group stage during the continent's most prestigious international tournament since 2009, but that can all change with a result on Tuesday. Still, on some level, this game may represent more than just a run-of-the-mill competitive game.
"If we don't get a good crowd, it may be the last Gold Cup game we ever get in Canada, which would just be sad," said Ledgerwood. "But a positive result and a lot of support will mean even more home games in the future."