TORONTO – A statement was made on Tuesday night.
The Canadian national team went toe-to-toe with the US national team at BMO Field in the Concacaf Nations League and emerged victorious with a 2-0 win on goals from Alphonso Davies and Lucas Cavallini. And if the scoreline alone wasn’t enough of a wake-up call, that the Canadians outworked the Americans in every element of the game compounded the surprise.
“They’ve been hurting for a long time and they’ve wanted a night like this for a long time as well,” said Canada coach John Herdman of his team, his staff, the country. “It’s only one step. It’s only one little drop in the ocean of what I’m hoping for this team. There’s more to come.”
Goalkeeper Milan Borjan, the most-capped member of the squad, added: “It’s an unbelievable win.”
“These guys, the whole team, put on an amazing performance,” he continued. “The pressure, the whole game. Unbelievable.”
Fittingly, it was Davies who opened the scoring in the 63rd minute after a combative and open hour of action.
“Excitement,” revealed the Bayern Munich starlet and Vancouver Whitecaps Homegrown product of what went through his mind when the ball crossed the line, if only just. “I’m happy to be able to score in this game. We knew it was a big one. Millions of emotions running through me.
“Yes, that is my biggest goal,” he added. “Especially [coming] against the US.”
Cavallini, who put in the second for emphasis in stoppage-time to seal the result, also put the difference down to desire.
“From the first minute we showed that we we wanted the game more than them; that’s the result we got,” he explained. “Today I saw a different Canada, a different generation.”
The forwards scored the goals, but it was in the midfield that the game was decided.
“I thought the game would be won and lost in that area,” said Herdman, who strayed from his preferred three-man structure to a boxier midfield four. “We had to have one more player there. We did and it worked out for periods.
“But the energy, just the effort, the work rate, was what mattered most,” he continued. “We said we would out-will them and that’s what it came down. There’s great pride seeing the guys working for their flag and their country.”
With the win, Canada remain top of Group A, a perfect nine points from three matches, setting up an epic clash come November in Orlando when the two meet again.
“You can beat them once, but the big task is going back to back,” Herdman challenged his side. “It was a hell of a match. I’m proud that the boys were ready to get on the front-foot for 90 minutes. We’ll have to adapt again. We’re going away from home; we’ll have something else up our sleeve for that one.”
It had been 34 long years since the Canadians got one over on their neighbors to the south in a competitive match.
“We made history tonight,” said Davies with a smile. “But our job is not done. We play them again next month. Our focus is on if we can repeat what we did tonight in November.”
Added Jonathan David, who was twice inches away from finding the back of the net: “It’s a new Canada. We’re looking forward to the future.”
Watch MLSsoccer.com personality and Extratime host Andrew Wiebe, who argues that Canada can make a run at World Cup Qualifying Hexagonal AND the Concacaf Nations League: