The Canadians, entering the break with a 2-0 lead, lost focus in the second half and the Haitians thrived on it with three unanswered goals.
Canada head coach John Herdman was visibly affected by the heartbreaking loss after having a good first half and was honest with what went wrong in this painful elimination.
“I think we are all gutted and generally just generally disappointed. I think we gave Haiti exactly what they wanted, we gave them that avenue to get back into the game at the wrong time,” Herdman said. “We said that it would come down to a battle of wills and just felt at the end we didn’t have what it took, we just didn’t have enough.”
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The first 45 minutes for the Canadian team was a dream one – going up two goals ahead of Haiti with few danger plays from their rival. It was in the second half where the Canadians fell to pieces and couldn’t keep up with the physicality of the Caribbean squad.
Canada, despite struggling in recent editions of the Gold Cup prior to a surprise showing in 2017, were the favorite team to advance to the semifinals and perhaps get their second Gold Cup trophy – they are the only team to ever interrupt Mexico and the United States' domain over the title.
Although Canada did not make it to the final as they had wished, Herdman highlighted the hard work his team put forward during the tournament, as well as their attacking capabilities – it was just not enough against the style of physicality the Haitian team brought to the playing field.
“We've got to learn to adapt to that style of play and we tried to manage their transition, but I don’t think we were ready for physical battles at times and while I think my center backs did well in moments, I think we won area challenges, but they just wore us down and it was those moments that forced those errors and all credit to them, that’s a tough style of play to play against,” said Herdman.
After the defeat the only Canadian player to address the media was midfielder Jonathan Osorio – he too was noticeably affected by the stunning loss, as were his teammates – as they lament a tournament exit to a team that for the first time will be in a Gold Cup semifinal.
“We wanted to reach the final or at least the semifinals and go against Mexico, that’s what we were working for,” Osorio said. “Today we started off very well, I think, but we didn’t react well after the goals scored by them [Haiti] and that’s what finally cost us. These teams from the Caribbean are very strong and in this game, they did not get discouraged and at the end, they were the best team in the second half.”