Canadian men’s national team head coach John Herdman isn’t bothered by what is said south of the border. Heading to Orlando for their final Concacaf Nations League group stage game against the US men’s national team, Herdman is focused on getting a result.
“Whatever is happening south of the border is their business, it’s for them to deal with” Herdman said in a media call on Friday. “We’ve got bigger motivation than anything that can be said down south. Our motivation is to qualify for a World Cup, it’s to win the Nations League Group A with one reason in mind: To qualify for the Hex.”
The Canadians gained a big dose of confidence following their 2-0 victory over the USMNT in October. Herdman wants to build on that result an instill consistency within his squad.
“The mindset is the same as every time we come into camp, it’s to keep improving as a group and to be better than the last camp,” Herdman said. “It comes down to will. That’s what we’ll be working on, to build up that consistency against that type of opposition.”
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Nine players on the latest squad come from Major League Soccer and seven of them have concluded their seasons. Only Richie Laryea and Liam Fraser are still playing as they prepare for the MLS Cup final on Sunday with Toronto FC (3 pm ET | ABC, Univision, TUDN in US; TVAS, TSN in Canada). Herdman said that he and his staff worked to ensure that his players remain in game shape.
“We’ve worked behind the scenes with the MLS clubs,” Herdman said. “[There were] some matches with semi-pro and university teams. So there was work behind the scenes to keep the readiness in these players.”
On the mental side, Herdman isn’t worried about his players not being up to the task of taking on the US for a second straight game.
“These players are always boiling for a game like this,” Herdman said. “But yeah, [player fitness] is always going to be on the back of your mind for selection day.”
Herdman praised the center back partnership that Derek Cornelius and Steven Vitoria formed following Canada’s 2-0 win. With Vancouver Whitecaps defender Doneil Henry back in the mix having served his suspension, Herdman admits that he will have “big decisions to make.”
“Derek Cornelius performed in the last game as well as Steven Vitoria. The partnership was strong,” Herdman said. “You can’t do everything the same, you’ve got to think about experience in this match. You’ve got to think about the conditions that we’re going into and as a coach you’ve go to be ready to adapt to that.”
Herdman added that he would leave it to his counterpart Gregg Berhalter and the US to figure out which center back partnership he would play in Orlando. He believed that depth is now one of his team’s strengths and an aspect he had been eying since joining the national team in January of 2018.
“In all positions we’ve got selection headaches,” Herdman said. “I think that’s the beauty of this team now. That’s where we wanted to get Canada at.”