Gold Cup overlay - Russell Teibert - Canada
USA Today Sports

Gold Cup over, Canada look to continue attacking progression

GLENDALE, Ariz. – With Canada bounced from the CONCACAF Gold Cup after Thursday’s quarterfinal loss to Jamaica, it’s time for another round of assessment and evaluation.

There’s no real rush to determine where to go from here as Canada isn’t scheduled to play another match for about a month and half. While there aren’t any competitive matches on the horizon, new head coach Octavio Zambrano wants his young squad to continue developing as an attacking unit.

“I wouldn’t like our identity to be of a scrappy team. I would like it to be more of a fluid, attacking team,” he said after Thursday’s loss. “We started this process four months ago and I see a lot of positives but definitely the effort and the desire to win, put your body in harm’s way and do whatever it takes, even if you have to become scrappy at times, was there.

“And so, for that, I’m so extremely satisfied. I can’t be completely satisfied because of the score but in that department, the guys just gave it their all.”

Canada want to become a dynamic team that can force their way into CONCACAF’s elite. They showed flashes in their four games at the Gold Cup, earning their first quarterfinal appearance in eight years and getting strong showings from several young players.

Sixteen-year-old Alphonso Davies was the talk of the tournament in the group stage after he scored three goals in Canada’s first two games, including a strike that gave Les Rouges a 1-0 lead against Costa Rica. Junior Hoilett looked very dangerous against Jamaica, scoring a contender for goal of the tournament before being robbed of a second fantastic goal by Reggae Boyz goalkeeper Andre Blake.

Now Canada has to build on those glimpses of promise. What’s most encouraging is that the bulk of this roster is young enough that they’ll have the chance to keep building chemistry in the months and years to come.

“We are going to be together for a long time and I think that’s what’s the most exciting part is that we do have a lot of good, young players,” said 24-year-old Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Russell Teibert.

“We had a bunch of young guys that performed well and we were led by a core group of experienced guys.”

While there were impressive flashes of pace and attacking play from Canada, they did still concede five times in four games. They dug themselves a 2-0 hole against Jamaica, and won’t get far once 2022 World Cup qualifying begins if they can’t balance their new, attacking impetus with strong play in the back.

“It was a young squad here. We came in almost naïve and with an almost innocence where previous experienced squads would have crumbled,” said midfielder Scott Arfield. “I think we can take a lot of credit and a lot of positive from the campaign but it’s a bitter way to go out because I think we had done enough to win that game.”