TORONTO — Two competitive matches into his tenure as Canada national team coach, John Herdman has two blowout wins under his belt and zero complains.
Canada dispatched Dominica 5-0 at BMO Field on Tuesday night, bringing their goal-differential up to plus-13 and moving them into third-place in the Concacaf Nations League qualifying table.
“I'm pretty happy,” Herdman said in his post-match press conference. “Coming in we knew we needed goals, that was an important part of it.”
Jonathan David got the side rolling early, hitting the back of the net after just three minutes off Alphonso Davies' lay-off. Junior Hoilett made it 2-0 11 minutes later and Lucas Cavallini added a third from the penalty spot in the 18th minute after Hoilett's heels were clipped, beating the keeper with a clever Panenka.
An own-goal after halftime and the coup de grace from Cyle Larin in the 82nd minute, again with Davies providing the assist, rounded out the night.
“This group are starting a journey in earnest," Herdman said. "We challenged the group this week, the leaders were challenged in ways I'm not sure they've been [before]. And we had six teenagers on the pitch tonight, three new caps, three players now fully committed to Canada, which was a critical part.”
Ballou Tabla, Alessandro Busti, and Zachary Brault-Guillard all made their Canada debuts, while the likes of David, Derek Cornelius, and Liam Millar played in front of home fans for the first time.
“It's a new era for Canadian Soccer,” proclaimed midfielder Russell Teibert. “I'm extremely proud, honored, and excited to be a part of it.”
Big win aside, there was a clear verve in the Canadian side, albeit with minor imperfections. No clearer evidence was required than Cavallini's audacious chip.
“It was a great penalty. He showed a lot of confidence,” said Canada midfielder Atiba Hutchinson. “I certainly wasn't expecting that. It went a little bit high, so I was hoping it stayed under the crossbar, but he pulled it off. Great for him; great for us as well.”
Dominica put in a shift, locking it down in the second half, clearly aware of the importance of goal-difference.
“Dominica was tough; they were very physical,” said Herdman. “The boys stuck to the plan, kept working the sides of the field. We had some good opportunities, the keeper made some good saves. We could have buried a couple more. We might rue them in time. All in all it was a good night for Canada.”
Said Teibert: “We dominated. We had a target of goals that we wanted to achieve; did well with capitalizing on our chances. Could have scored more, but we're all happy with the result."
Herdman added a closing promise. “There's a lot more to come,” he said.