Having taken the first meeting 6-0, the Canadians were looking to set themselves up for a pair of clashes in October and November against the United States. And though the win completed a perfect start, John Herdman’s side would doubtless have liked to take a few more goals from the match.
John Herdman on USA game Oct 15th: “For us its a cup final. This is the game we have been waiting for, for 10-15 years. We want their best. We want the challenge. We want Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David tested at that level. Its our house and we have to make sure they feel that.”— Kristian Jack (@KristianJack) September 11, 2019
Given the circumstances, as will be seen below, it was a fitting, if underwhelming, result.
Herdman made five changes from the starting XI that featured at BMO Field four days earlier, with Sam Adekugbe, Steven Vitoria, Will Johnson, David Wotherspoon and Cyle Larin inserted in the places of Kamal Miller, Derek Cornelius, Sam Piette, Jonathan Osorio and Junior Hoilett, respectively.
The coach had hinted in his comments following the 6-0 win that some rotation would be coming – equal parts rewarding those for hard work put in during the camp and fulfilling a desire to see what other options would look like in position – but few would have expected quite that many.
The result was a less fluid, more disjointed outing, barring the occasional flash of the dynamism reminiscent of the first. That the energy levels and intensity were lacking will be of some concern, though credit should be given to the Cubans, who were an altogether more compact and sturdy opponent on the night.
There he is
Alphonso Davies was uncharacteristically quiet in the first meeting. Shockingly so.
The former Vancouver Whitecaps/current Bayern Munich starlet failed to factor on Friday’s scoresheet despite the free-flowing goals. Herdman wasn’t even asked about his performance in his post-match presser – a rarity indeed, given how strongly he has factored in the imagination of the Canadian public the last few years.
On Tuesday the teenager wasted no time making amends for that oversight, smashing in what proved to be the game-winner in emphatic fashion with a left-footed blast past the helpless Cuban goalkeeper when a loose ball fell to him on the left side of the box.
That was the Fonzie observers were expecting to see.
Davies was one of the driving forces of the Canadian attack on the night, muted thought it was. On the other hand, Jonathan David, who stole the headlines on Saturday, was a virtual non-factor. Canada will need both firing when the next games come around.