Though termed a friendly, the match will be anything but. Jamaica notched a 2-1 victory over Canada in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup a little over a month ago, bouncing Les Rouges from the tournament and putting vengeance on the mind ahead of Saturday’s contest.
'Revenge' was a word spoken several times, including by Canada head coach Octavio Zambrano.
“There is a little bit of revenge going there,” he said. “We have to assert ourselves on our home field. [They were] our team to beat to continue in our quest to get to the final stage of the Gold Cup.”
With Canada looking to become a factor in CONCACAF after a long stretch in the wilderness, Jamaica will provide a stern test this weekend.
“Jamaica is a good team, the last two Gold Cups they made it to the finals,” said Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio. “This is good for us to measure ourselves against better CONCACAF teams. We want to beat those teams. We have to beat teams like Jamaica and like Trinidad. We have go and get results in places like Honduras and Costa Rica. That's the only way we can progress as a country and make it to the World Cup, which is the goal.
“This is our chance to get our revenge and show everybody that the Gold Cup wasn't a fluke.”
Canada has several players on their roster of Jamaican heritage, and the Toronto area has a large Jamaican population. For players with a Jamaican background, Saturday’s match has a little extra meaning.
“I want to really get the win because my background is Jamaican and half my family is rooting for them,” smiled Junior Hoilett. “I want to get back at them, get the bragging rights on our side, which I think we deserved. The way we played against them last game it was unlucky to only get one goal, we should have had three or four. It's way more than a friendly for me.”
Canada acknowledged on Thursday that they can’t match Jamaica athletically, and said they’ll attempt to use possession to break down the Reggae Boyz. The team hinted that they’ll to play with more of an attacking bend on Saturday, with an eye on continuing to grow into an increasingly attractive style.
“With Canada going forward you're going to see a lot more attacking, us going at teams, trying to win,” said TFC's Jay Chapman. “It's an exciting time. They knocked us out of the Gold Cup, so there's going to be a little fire under us. [We want to] win this game and put on a good show for our fans in Toronto.”
The Canadians see Jamaica as a team they need to be beating on a regular basis to put themselves back in the conversation for a World Cup berth.
“This a good test for us,” said five-time Canadian men’s player of the year Atiba Hutchinson, who is back in the squad after not being called for the Gold Cup. “Considering the boys went up against them in the Gold Cup and didn't get the result, to play them the next game, see where we're at and how the team has been developing.”
“It’s definitely [a team we need to beat],” added Davies. “With Atiba coming in, a big part of this team; [he] can help us defeat them this time around. It's a big milestone for us. If we keep developing, we can beat them on a regular basis.”