The Canadian men’s national team needed an avalanche of goals against El Salvador from BC Place on Tuesday night to keep their 2018 World Cup hopes afloat.
They also required a heap of help from their North American neighbors Mexico, hoping El Tri would beat Honduras with a combined goal difference in the two games of either five or six, depending on the circumstances, in order to advance to the Hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying.
Neither quite came to fruition.
Orlando City SC’s Cyle Larin gave the home side a taste of hope in the early proceedings, burying a serendipitous opportunity offered thanks to a Junior Hoilett assist in the 11th minute.
Larin was active throughout the half. In addition to opening the scoring, he nearly bagged a first-half brace with a run in behind the El Salvador defense that concluded with a right-footed effort that just barely whisked past the far post.
Indeed, the desire to advance to the Hex was apparent in the spirit of the Canadians, who outshot El Salvador 10 to three in the opening stanza. Despite pressing the El Salvador defense for a majority of the opening 45 minutes, they were only able to beat goalkeeper Oscar Arroyo on one occasion, making their second-half job even more difficult.
Canada gained further hope just after the second half whistle sounded when Nikolas Ledgerwood doubled their lead with a calm strike from inside the box in the 53rd minute. However, their dreams of a summer in Russia in 2018 were all but squashed in the 78th minute after Nelson Bonilla gave the visiting side their first goal, precisely finishing a big chance from close range.
David Edgar refused to quit, even into the dying embers of the match, scoring a goal that gave Canada three total on the evening. While an excellent effort, it wasn't quite enough, as Canada’s hopes for a World Cup place ended in Vancouver.
- 11' - CAN - Cyle Larin (Junior Hoilett)
- 53’ - CAN - Nikolas Ledgerwood (Junior Hoilett)
- 78’ - ELS - Nelson Bonilla (Gerson Mayen)
- 93’ - CAN - David Edgar (Tosaint Ricketts)
- Full Box Score
NO MORAL VICTORIES
There is no denying that Canada put in an excellent effort in their pursuit of a spot in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. They bagged three goals, had 19 total shots and put seven of them on target. However, this will certainly come as little solace to Canada and their fan base. The North American country has now not qualified for soccer’s most elite world competition since 1986. There is certainly reason to believe that the future is bright for Canadian men’s soccer; however those feelings of optimism will surely take some time to re-surface, as the sting of another missed World Cup will permeate the entire nation.
LARIN SHINES AGAIN
Speaking of hope for the future, no player has Canadian fans more excited than the electric Cyle Larin, who scored his fifth international goal in his 19th appearance for his home country on Tuesday.
Larin’s abilities were on full display, as he found himself on the end of multiple chances that could have opened the floodgates. Perhaps on a luckier day, Larin might have cemented his Canadian legacy. However, it was not in the cards this time around. If any player is going to carry Canada to Qatar, Larin certainly has the tools to be that person.
JUNIOR HOILETT PLAYS CREATOR
Junior Hoilett is another reason that Canadian faithful can feel good about their future hopes on the world stage. The EPL veteran dished out two assists on Tuesday and was dangerous all evening long in the attack, often finding himself as the most dangerous player on the field.