Canada off to winning start in Gold Cup despite enduring 2nd-half struggles

HARRISON, N.J. – Considering how barren the results have been for Canada at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in recent years, any victory would have been a good one.

While there were some concerns that cropped up in the team’s 4-2 victory over French Guiana at Red Bull Arena on Friday night, there’s certainly room for optimism when the Canadians’ newest and youngest player, Alphonso Davies, showed no fear on the international stage. Davies bagged a brace that included a much-needed insurance goal in his first start for Canada, who won their first match at the regional tournament in six years.

“He’s probably the most exciting kid—he’s still a kid—that I’ve ever played with and seen with my own eyes,” said midfielder Scott Arfield, who also put in an admirable performance for Canada. “By far he’s the most technically-gifted, humble, modest young man that I think is going to go from strength to strength.”

Davies’ two goals in the second half were both composed finishes that showed patience beyond his years. He looks every bit his 16 years off the field, with braces emerging whenever he flashes a smile, but on it he looks much older. His impressive performance on Friday spoke to that.

“At first when I went out there, I was a bit nervous,” said Davies. “It was a new atmosphere for me. Coming out there and starting a game with my country. I was a little bit nervous. At the end of the game, I got more comfortable.”

Canada will be looking at what happened with about 20 minutes to go when, suddenly, French Guiana pulled two goals back and very nearly got a third.

Davies, however, netted his second of the night in the 85th minute to kill off French Guiana's dreams of a comeback and give Canada the three points they were looking for.

“It didn’t really quite happen the way we wanted but I saw glimpses of what I want from this team,” said head coach Octavio Zambrano. “We had a breakdown at one point that we really needed to be cognizant of and need to examine. We will watch the videos on how we can correct it but you can’t ask for everything in the first match.”