SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador—A potent offensive attack has rarely been one of Canada’s strengths, but a young core of players who have shown a knack for finding the back of the net have fostered a belief within the group that it’s starting to change.
With plenty of youth and pace up front, Canada feel they're developing a match for the stingy back line Canada has relied on to stay competitive. The next test comes in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying, on the road against El Salvador on Tuesday (8:30 pm ET, beIN Sports).
“Throughout the whole qualifying process, we’ve been scoring goals so the team’s not worried about it as we’re creating chances,” said Tosaint Ricketts, who – at 28 – is effectively the elder statesman in Benito Floro's attacking trio. “In the last game, we created a number of quality chances and put one away so I think things are looking all right.”
Orlando City SC forward Cyle Larin – still just 20-years-old – MLS' 2015 AT&T Rookie of the Year, brings 17 league goals along with four for Canada, including Friday's unorthodox game-winner against Honduras.
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That’s in addition to 23-year-old Tesho Akindele, the league's 2014 Rookie of the Year with FC Dallas, 25-year-old Junior Hoilett, and Ricketts, who has four goals in qualifying for far. Marcus Haber, at 26, also showed last Friday against Honduras that he can trouble defenders.
“Junior’s added a different dynamic to our play,” Ricketts said. “There’s a lot more balance in our formation in the squad. He’s very good on the ball and creates chances for everyone. I think he’ll benefit the whole team."
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After getting eliminated from the 2014 World Cup Qualifying cycle, Canada showed futility in front of goal: winless in 13 games in 2013, Les Rouges scored only once.
But the commitments of Hoilett and Akindele to Canada, along with Larin’s explosion onto the scene, has the team thinking big. Tuesday’s game in El Salvador should provide an early test of their mettle.
With plenty of youth to shoulder the load, they’ll be ready to strike. Finally.