A historical perspective on Canada's first men's soccer win over the US in 34 years

As you may have heard by now, the Canadian men's national team's 2-0 Concacaf Nations League victory over the US national team on Tuesday night was the program's first since April 2, 1985, a stretch of more than 34 years. 

Just how long has that actually been? Well, here's some context...

Before their time: Of the 46 players on the two teams' gameday rosters on Tuesday, only US and Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan had been born the last time Canada won a game in this series. In fact, he was a few days shy of seven months old on the day of their triumph, also by a 2-0 score in a friendly.

First division drought: Canada's last victory came only several days after the old NASL folded in late March of 1985. It would be three years before the USSF made a promise in 1988 to launch MLS as a condition for being awarded the hosting rights to the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

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An unimaginable streak: Canada's last victory over the US came against an American side that hadn't reached a FIFA World Cup in 35 years, and a year before Canada's first and only World Cup appearance in 1986. Since then, the USMNT had played in seven consecutive World Cups before failing to qualify for Russia 2018.

A panoramic view of Toronto's Rogers Centre. | USA Today Sports Images

In the elements: The Toronto Blue Jays still played their home games at the often-chilly Exhibition Stadium, and were four years away from opening one of North America's first retractable-roof venues, then known as SkyDome. Now the Rogers Center, the building which sits east of BMO Field in downtown Toronto just celebrated its 30th anniversary.

Canada's pastime: As for that other sport played with a goal on each end, Canadian NHL teams were one year into a seven-year stretch of Stanley Cup dominance, including five titles won by the Edmonton Oilers. A Canadian team hasn't won Lord Stanley's Cup in 26 years, since the Montreal Canadiens accomplished the feat in 1993.

Laws of the game: At the time, many of the rules that currently govern the beautiful game were substantially different. Goalkeepers were allowed to handle back passes. Teams were only permitted two substitutions and a bench of five players total. Almost all leagues and international competitions awarded two points for a victory and one point for a draw. And if an attacking player was level with the last defender, he was offside.

What's on TV? On American soil, Canada's victory on Tuesday night was broadcast on ESPN2, one of several cable TV networks devoted to 24-hour sports programming. At the time of Canada's previous win, ESPN the original was approaching its sixth birthday. All the highest-rated shows on US television were on network TV. In the 1984-85 season, the top two-rated shows were ABC's Dynasty and CBS' Dallas.


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