The rise of the 4-4-2, overcoming adversity and deux-a-zéro³: Reviewing a perfect January window for the CanMNT
Despite concerns heading into it, the CanMNT had a January window to remember in World Cup qualifying action. In my camp review, I look back at what helped make that happen.
It felt like something out of a dream. One that you just don’t want to ever wake up from.
Yet, if you were to pinch yourself right now, you’d leave a mark. It’s real. Soak it in.
Somehow, someway, the CanMNT is on the precipice of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. In fact, they’re teetering so far on the edge of that cliff that you can almost hear the splash that will come when they fall off, landing in the promised waters that they once touched 30 odd years ago.
Sitting at the top of this mountain, it feels like just yesterday when Canada was mucking it out in the weeds with the likes of Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Aruba, but now, not only are they up in the sky with the elite of CONCACAF, they’ve been mowing through them now that they’re here.
Heading into the ‘Octagonal’, you wondered if this stage would be a big learning curve for Canada, as they reached the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers for just the first time since 1997. And when they kicked off this stage with an underwhelming draw at home against Honduras in September, you started to feel that just emerging from this 8-team, 14-game brawl in a top 4 spot would be a win on its own, ensuring that Canada could at least have a shot at still qualifying for the World Cup via the intercontinental playoff.
5 games in, that felt especially true, as Canada sat with 7 points, coming off of 1 win and 4 draws. The win was nice, a calm 3-0 drubbing over El Salvador at home, and some of the draws were worth getting somewhat excited over, such as a pair of 1-1 draws away to the powerhouses of this region in the US and Mexico, but that Honduras draw and a tough 0-0 draw in Jamaica left some wondering if Canada had what it take to survive this round.
So heading into a matchday 6 home clash against Panama, who were sitting in 3rd place behind the US and Mexico at the time, 4th placed Canada were just trying to keep pace with those 3 as they neared the halfway point of the Octo.
And not only did they do that, picking up a commanding 4-1 win that vaulted them up into third place, they rode that momentum into their next two games, beating Costa Rica and Mexico back-to-back at home to climb to the top of the Octo.
That’s where they found themselves heading into this January window, and based on where they were trending, you fancied their chances of staying where they were, giving them a leg up on a push towards the World Cup spot.
But then, they found out they’d be missing their best player, Alphonso Davies, who was ruled out of game action due to myocarditis. And then their heartbeat in midfield, Stephen Eustaquio, picked up COVID, ruling him out of at least a game or two. You combine that with the fact that a good chunk of this Canadian team were still in their offseasons and therefore out of form, and it seemed to spell disaster for Les Rouges this window.
Because of that, it just felt like getting anything more than 5 points from this window would be a bonus, especially as Canada got set to take on 3 stiff tests in Honduras (away), the US (home) and El Salvador (away).
Except, no one got that memo to Canada, who despite heading into 2 locales they’d last won in over 20 (El Salvador) and 30 (Honduras) years ago in, and taking on a near full-strength US side at home, they went out and did the unthinkable - win all 3 games, extending their win streak to 6 games.
And now, that’s put them from contenders for a top 3 spot to a virtual shoo-in to be the top seed, finding themselves now just 1 win away from the World Cup with 3 games to go. Not only that, they’ve become the talk of not just Canada, but the whole world, sitting as arguably *the* best story in World Cup qualifiers across the globe at the moment.
So safe to say, the vibe heading into this next camp, the final one of the Octo in March, is quite good on this Canadian team right now, who are finally nearing the end of what has been a long and arduous journey. Starting it as underdogs just to compete for a World Cup spot, they can now realistically not only make the World Cup proper, but do so as the highest seed in CONCACAF, with an outside shot of being a pot 3 team at the tournament.
Not bad for a team that was expected to get into a slog with Bermuda, struggle against Suriname and then get put to the sword by Haiti 12 months ago.
A dream window:
And speaking of full-circle moments, this window might’ve been the perfect example of how far this Canadian team has really come in recent years, highlighting their growth.
It was one thing to go out and win all three games in a tough window, but to do so without Davies for all of those games, and missing Eustaquio for the first two? That’s massive.
When those absences were revealed, it felt impossible to imagine, yet, Canada just kept their heads up and ground through that, never swaying from the game plan.
First, they went down to Honduras, where they faced a stiff test in the form of Los Catrachos. On paper, it seemed like an easy match, with Honduras toiling at the bottom of the Octo standings, but having missed some several key players throughout qualifiers, and having gone through a coaching change, you could only be wary of their threat, especially as they seemed to have a close to full-strength team at their disposal this time around.
Especially when you remember that Canada hadn’t beaten Honduras in the country since the 80s, and had suffered some of their most heartbreaking and embarrassing defeats there, it felt like winning a game was a big psychological hurdle for them to overcome.
But instead, it proved to be one that they could leap over with ease, as they stormed out to a strong start on the night before scoring an early goal, settling in defensively, and then grabbing a late insurance marker in a 2-0 win, one where they just seemed to never let the hosts get going.
Not only that, they just didn’t get affected or intimidated by the atmosphere that the game provided them, which is typically a big advantage for Honduras, who tend to feed off of all of that energy.
Obviously, this isn’t the Honduras team of old that we’re all used to, but it was still a welcome surprise to see Canada get on as they did, picking up a crucial 3 points that many didn’t expect them to be able to get.
But then, heading into the US game, many wondered if they’d be able to catch lightning in a bottle once again. Beating Honduras was nice, of course, and made sure that this window wouldn’t be a total disaster, but it was also a win over a last-place side. Those are the sort of games that you want Canada to win.
Against the US, though, who were just 1 point behind Canada and had close to a full squad to play around with, it wouldn’t be that easy, as many felt that just escaping that game with a point would be enough, especially given the fact that Canada had beaten the US just once in the last 37 years heading into it.
But now, you can make that two in 37.
Naturally, following a similar blueprint to the one they used against Honduras, Canada came out and scored early, settled in defensively, and then added a late insurance marker to put the game to rest, picking up all 3 points in another 2-0 victory.
And if that Honduras win was impressive, this US one blew it out of the water, as Canada just seemed to stymie the US at every turn, who had no answer for the resilient defensive shape of the Canadians. Not only that, they didn’t just park the bus and pray, either, but hit back several times at the other end, too, and could’ve even made the score more lopsided than it eventually was.
Most importantly, they found a way to leave Hamilton with another 3 points in their back pocket, which thanks to the results around them, saw them enter the 3rd matchday of this window 4 points up on both the US and Mexico as the top team in the Octo.
Plus, having already picked up those 2 wins, it reduced the pressure on them slightly as they got set to face another stiff test in the form of El Salvador, who might’ve arguably been the weakest team of the 3 on paper, but were most certainly the best-coached, and are known for having a hostile atmosphere, as many have quickly come to learn throughout this Octo.
So for a Canadian team that hadn’t won in the country since the 1990s, it was another stiff test, although based on what we’d seen from them in the first two games, it wasn’t an unrealistic challenge, though.
But surprisingly, it quickly proved to be the most difficult of the three games for Canada, who unlike in the other two games, were unable to come out to a flying start, as they struggled to break down El Salvador’s low block. Because of that, as the game wore on with the score still 0-0, it felt like this might be the game where Canada’s luck ran out, leaving them to draw, or maybe even lose, ending off an otherwise perfect window on a bit of a sour note.
But in a sense, maybe we should’ve seen what was about to happen, because then Canada found a goal in the 66th minute, before grabbing a late goal right at the death, to yes, you guessed it, win 2-0 once again.
With that, they put a bow on what was a perfect window, one where they didn’t just get 9 points out of 9, but did so with routine efficiency, putting together three clinical attacking and defensive performances in order to grind out the results that they needed.
Adding to that, they also all-but punched their ticket to the World Cup, finding a way to not only keep pace at the top of the Octo, but create some more separation there, too.
So in a window that originally looked to be about surviving, Canada instead went out and thrived, and that is reflected in where they find themselves today, and that’s on the verge of a World Cup for the first time in 36 years.
Canada celebrates their win over El Salvador in the dressing room (Canada Soccer/Martin Bayzl)
Keys to success:
Naturally, when seeing that number of 9/9, however, it then leads to the classic question - how were Canada able to pull that off?
And it’s a great question for a reason.
Missing some key players, dealing with a roster where half of your players were out of season - all combined with some bonkers travel between San Pedro Sula, Honduras and San Salvador - there were a lot of factors that could’ve conspired against Canada here.
Instead, though, they focused on what they could control, and that was getting the most out of the guys they had, players stepping up in key moments, managing the ebbs and flows of games, all combined with some masterful tactics from their head coach, John Herdman.
Not only that, it was a true team effort, too, starting with Herdman and going down to everyone who participated in this camp, highlighting the impact of the togetherness and brotherhood this group continues to preach.
At the same time, however, that doesn’t mean that some factors didn’t play more of a role than others.
Here’s a look at three of the ones that helped Canada the most over the course of this camp, helping them pick up the results that they did.
The window of the 4-4-2:
And to begin, there’s no better place to look than Canada’s bold choice to tweak with their formation this window, as that tweak very well may be the main reason they were able to get all 9 points.
It wasn’t a big tweak, as they went from playing with more of a 3-4-3 in November to playing with a 4-4-2 this window, but it made a big difference, as it allowed them to get the most out of the players that they had at their disposal here.
They’re already familiar with the 4-4-2, as they employ it it off the ball to defend no matter the formation that they’re in, and have pulled it out on a few occasions against big teams, but it was interesting to see them now pull it out in all of the games this camp, especially on the attack.
But with no Alphonso Davies, whose strengths as a two-way player was primarily the reason why they switched to more of a back 3 in the first place, they decided to go for a bit more solidity at the back with the 4-4-2, trading the sort of possession-based style they play with the 3 for more of a counter-attacking style.
And it was a very smart and calculated move.
Offensively, Honduras is lethal on the counterattack, but struggles in possession, while the US is great in possession, but doesn’t break down low blocks, and El Salvador finds themselves somewhere between that pendulum stylistically.
On the other side, defensively, Honduras has struggled to defend teams that have hit them on the counter, and the same goes for the US, with El Salvador also struggling with that at times, too.
Therefore, in theory, the idea was that by using a 4-4-2, Canada would ensure that they’d be able to defend without too much worry, limiting each team’s attacking strengths, while also giving them an avenue to exploit them through at the other end, which was by counter-attacking.
And it worked to a tee.
Just consider Canada’s possession numbers in the three games - 41%, 36% and 51%. Yet, despite that, they won the Expected Goals (xG) battle in each of those games, which was 1.21-0.66 against Honduras, 1.09-0.89 against the US, and 1.85-0.37 against El Salvador, showing that they didn’t need the ball to do damage.
Instead, they analyzed the potential weaknesses of their opponents, saw what they could do with their roster, and made the most of that.
It would’ve been easy to try and go out there and try and play their own game, something that they did against Honduras at home in that 1-1 draw to kick off the Octo, risking a result to try and stamp out their identity on their opponents, but instead, they did what the needed to do to beat the opponents here, at all costs.
But if anything, that’s just what this Canadian team has done for most of this last year and a half. Unlike most teams, who want to find an identity and stick to it, Canada has done the opposite, constantly tinkering with their tactics, adapting based on the opponent and the state of the game, often switching things up on the go as needed.
And it’s that chameleon-like identity that has them where they are in the Octo, with no better example of that than their current winning streak, one where they’ve managed to find different ways to beat the 6 different teams that they’ve come up against. It might buck conventional wisdom, no doubt, but it’s made a big difference.
So naturally, here is where I’d probably suggest that it’ll be interesting to see if Canada sticks with this 4-4-2 long-term, but knowing that the answer is no, instead I’ll say that it’s nice to know that Canada has this formation in their chameleon arsenal, and it’ll be interesting to see how they use it going forward, helping them continue this run.
New-look David and Larin partnership adds different dimension to attack:
Shifting elsewhere, however, one big storyline heading into this camp was to monitor Canada’s situation up front, and more specifically, the ongoing partnership of Cyle Larin and Jonathan David.
Individually, both had been pretty good up to this point in the Octo, as Larin entered this camp with 11 goals in World Cup qualifiers, good for top of the region, while David wasn’t far behind him with 7 goals. Not only that, they’d done pretty good for themselves in big games, as well, with Larin leading the Octo with 4 goals, while David was tied for second with 3 goals.
As a partnership, however, it hadn’t always been as rosy, especially in the Octo, where most of the pair's goals came when the other wasn’t on the field, suggesting that Canada might be better off keeping them separated whenever possible.
And it made sense in theory. Both are fantastic all-around forwards who can score goals for fun, but both are also best as second-strikers when they get a chance to play off of a true #9, which obviously wouldn’t happen if they were both playing together.
Because of that, it felt like Canada might be better off doing what they did in the November window, where they started David in 1 game, and Larin in the other, enjoying the fruits of that plan when David scored the winner against Costa Rica as a starter, before Larin scored the winner against Mexico as the starter.
But then, with no Davies in the lineup, and having switched to that aforementioned 4-4-2, Herdman decided that with the need for two forwards up top in this formation, he’d revisit the Larin and David partnership, albeit with a twist.
That twist, of course, would be that David was given a free role to roam deeper pockets and link play from deeper positions, as he does for Lille, while Larin was to both hold-up the ball and roam the channels, as he does for Besiktas. So instead of before, where they both just kind of stood static up front when playing together, reliant on others to get them the ball, it allowed them to fill the roles that they’re more used to with their clubs where they’re much more involved in the attack.
And the difference was night and day.
With that tweak, the pair went from looking uncomfortable playing together to linking up like they’ve been doing it for years, fashioning together several key attacking moves, helping play a big role in Canada’s attack.
Not only that, they were able to produce some goals, too, as David finished this camp with 2 goals and 1 assist, while Larin finished with a goal, but pretty much created Atiba Hutchinson’s winner against El Salvador, which might not be an assist in reality, but felt like one.
Plus, they were able to contribute to the attack in ways other than just the goals and assists, too, as David finished the camp with 1.91 xG, 8 shots (0.24 xG per shot) and 2 key passes in the 3 games, while Larin had a tidy 1.2 xG, 4 shots (0.3 xG per shot) and 2 key passes, which is a pretty tidy return for the pair of attackers.
And thanks to all that, they were also really able to help Canada play the sort of counter-attacking style that they looked to employ in this camp. With David dropping deep, and Larin leading the line and running the channels, there were often sequences where David would help Canada progress from a deep position, before playing off of Larin and sending him forward into space.
As a result, it’s really opened up the door in terms of what Canada might be able to do attacking-wise going forward, showing that when employed in the right situation, David and Larin can indeed play together.
In these big games, you want to have as many of your big players out there as possible, so if there’s a way to get both David and Larin on the pitch, you’d take it, especially if they keep up what they showed in this camp.
Always-improving defence gets due rewards:
But for all of the talk of the forwards and the role that they played in these victories, however, it does feel like the defence also deserves some praise for its performances in this camp, as they certainly played a role in Canada’s ability to pick up these results.
Obviously, the goals that Canada scored were important, but without the three clean sheets that they kept, they could’ve easily been forgotten, forcing Canada to settle for a draw or a loss (or two) along the way.
Instead, their defence held strong when they needed to, and that allowed them to grab all three wins, showing their importance to this team. On paper, it’s seen as a weak spot on this team, but that’s quickly proven to be a myth, as it seems that with each game that Canada plays, this defence finds a way to come up big.
And it’s not as if they’re riding luck, or anything, either - this Canadian team is genuinely defending at an elite level right now.
Just take a look at their stats from this window.
To start, how about the fact that they allowed just 1.92 xG from 34 shots across 3 games, which is an impressive 0.05 xG a shot? Or how about the fact that they allowed an average of just 0.64 xG against per game? If not, how about the fact that they didn’t allow a single big chance across either of the 3 games?
But if anything, all of those stats just show how good Canada really was defensively in this camp. No matter how much possession the other team’s had, or how many shots they had at goal, they ensured that as few of those chances as possible would be of high quality, making it hard for their opponents to break through.
Yet, that just shows how far this Canadian team has come in this area over the past few years. Before, it felt like they were always a high-danger chance away from a calamity, even in their best games, but now, it feels like they hardly give up a sniff to teams.
That’s reflected in the fact that they’ve conceded just 5 goals in 11 games this Octo, 4 of them from open play, as despite playing some solid offensive teams, they’ve bent but most certainly haven’t broken.
Plus, what’s been nice about this is that it hasn’t just come off the back of one new addition, or one big tactical change (although their full-time deployment of that low to mid block is one I think deserves a shout), but off of Canada’s commitment to defend as a team.
Obviously, it’s helped that Canada has seen the likes of Kamal Miller, Scott Kennedy and Alistair Johnston emerge as key parts of this back line over this past year and a bit, but it’s also important to note how good Canada defends as a team, too.
So overall, some credit has to be given to Herdman for setting them up in a certain framework, which is that low to mid block in a 4-4-2, and then full credit has to be given to all of the players, from the strikers down, for committing to that plan, helping make it work.
There’s a reason why through 17 qualifiers now, they’ve conceded just 6 goals, and never more than 1 in a game, and it’s been that commitment to the defensive side of the game, which shone through brighter than ever in this grind of a window.
Canada looks on ahead of their clash against El Salvador (Canada Soccer/Martin Bayzl)
But for all of the talk of the team’s success, which is certainly deserved based on how good Canada has looked as a team this Octo, that doesn’t mean that some individuals didn’t get a chance to shine this camp.
So as usual, here’s a look at who I thought shone the brightest over these last 3 games for Canada.
Player of the Camp: Jonathan David
And to start, there was no light that shone brighter this camp for Canada than that of David’s. Even despite missing his running mate in Davies, David ensured that his absence wouldn’t be felt in these matches, putting together what was probably his best 3-game run in a Canadian shirt.
It might not have been his most prolific, say, but make no mistake, it was dominant, and played a big role in these results.
From his tireless work rate when he didn’t have possession, as he was constantly pressing and running off the ball for teammates, to his impressive work when he was in possession, where he just seemed to rarely set a foot wrong with his dribbling or passing, he found a way to make an impact in ways other than just scoring this camp.
And when he did find himself in front of goal, he was lethal, as shown in his two goals, which were both beauties. You throw the assist that he gave Larin in there, and it was overall just a perfect camp for David, who looked as close to the player that Canadians have seen shine for Lille this past year as he ever has for Canada.
Which if you’re Canada, has to be exciting.
When David is in this sort of form, he can win you games, and while Canada is proving to be a deep team that doesn’t rely on its stars to win games, it’s nice to have guys like David who can step up and rescue something on days where things aren’t going your way.
Because of that, it makes him an easy nod for player of the camp, and after going through what was a rollercoaster of a year for Canada in 2021, hopefully that strong start can set the table for a dominant 2022 for him.
Honourable Mention: Milan Borjan
Breakout player of the camp: Scott Kennedy
But shifting elsewhere, one player who impressed many this camp was Scott Kennedy, who in his first call-up since September, didn’t miss a beat in the two games that he played, earning our nod for breakout player of the camp.
For those who have been following Kennedy, however, this isn’t a surprise. The only reason he had been away from the Canadian fold for so long is due to injuries, not form, so it was almost expected that he’d do well once healthy again.
To do so this quick after returning, however? That’s a whole other ball game, but credit to him for that, as he was a man of the match shout against Honduras, and just had a no-nonsense game against El Salvador.
Despite having to play in two tough away days, his first ever in Central America, he looked like he’d been doing it his whole life. But be it his calming play in possession, his aerial presence or his astute positioning, he just has all the attributes of a solid centre back, and did a great job of showing that when he saw the field in this camp.
So while competition is fierce at his position at left centre back, where he’s going up against Kamal Miller and Derek Cornelius, Kennedy put a strong account of himself out there, showing that he deserves to earn more minutes going forward. Plus, he does project well as a central centre back long term, so there’s that to watch out for as well.
And still young, on a good path with Jahn Regensburg in the 2.Bundesliga, lots is still to come from Kennedy, who projects to be a big part of this team going forward, no matter in what form that may come.
Honourable Mention: Liam Fraser
Unsung Hero: Milan Borjan
Lastly, to round off the individual awards section of this camp review, we’ve then got the unsung hero, in which we’ve got a very fitting winner in Milan Borjan.
To be fair, it does feel a bit strange to say he was an unsung hero this camp, as he was arguably man of the match in two of the games, showing that he certainly had his praises sung, but at the same time, it still didn’t feel enough relative to how good he was in these three games.
He might not have been the busiest that he’s ever been, especially with how well Canada defended this window, but there were still some big moments in each game where he came up huge, especially late in games.
So while he might not have had all too much to do, making just 8 saves across the three games, all 8 of those saves were vital ones, coming in key moments in matches, often when Canada was holding onto a one goal lead.
Because of that, it’s hard to imagine Canada keeping all 9 points without him, so the fact that they were able to reflects well on him.
And he’s been doing that all Octo for Canada, whenever he’s been healthy. He might not always get the praise that he deserves, but make no mistake, he’s been a big part of this run, and if anything, these games were just the latest example of how important he’s truly been to this team recently.
Honourable Mention: Sam Adekugbe
Road to 21+:
Otherwise, moving on, we then get to our final section of this camp review, which we’ve been doing each window, and that’s tracking the road to 21 points. For those unfamiliar with that, that line of 21 points was seen as the line that Canada would likely need to cross to at least guarantee a spot in the playoff, if not the top 3, back when the Octo began, so I’ve been tracking their progress relative to that line.
So now, seeing that Canada is now up to 25 points through 11 out of 14 games, crossing that line of 21, you can all of a sudden see how they’ve been able to find themselves in the position where they’re at right now, as they’ve genuinely been that solid.
Heading into the Octo, it felt like anything above 1.5 points per game across the 14 games (ergo, the 21 point mark), would be enough to finish in the top half, especially when analyzing past final rounds in CONCACAF, CONEMBOL and the AFC from recent years.
There was always a chance that number would be higher, or lower, but for the most part, 1.5 had been a fair estimate, so for a Canadian team just looking to at least stay alive, that was the number to cheer for.
As a result, to see Canada now sitting at a rate of 2.27 points per game through 11 games, unable to drop below 1.78 points per game no matter what happens, helps show why they are where they are right now.
Not only that, they’ve done that by following the formula for success that many said was the best route to success when heading into this Octo, too - win your games at home, pick up points away. Considering they’ve got the best ppg in the Octo both home and away, they’ve certainly ticked that box off, as well.
So overall, this Canadian team is in a strong place with 3 games to go.
If anything, the only reason they haven’t clinched by now is because of Costa Rica’s late push and Panama’s continued success has left things wide open, but if they keep doing what they’re doing, Canada won’t only be in Qatar later this year, but will be there as CONCACAF’s top qualifier and a possible pot 3 team.
Imagine telling that to someone a year ago?
Elsewhere, to round things off here are some key stats from the Octo through 11 games.
CWCQ Golden Boot standings:
Cyle Larin (Canada), Jonathan David (Canada) - 5 goals
Cecilio Waterman (Panama), Rolando Blackburn (Panama), Ricardo Pepi (United States), Michail Antonio (Jamaica) - 3 goals
Atiba Hutchinson (Canada), Tajon Buchanan (Canada), Bryan Ruiz (Costa Rica), Jairo Henriquez (El Salvador) ,Brayan Moya (Honduras), Shamar Nicholson (Jamaica), Michail Antonio (Jamaica), Raul Jimenez (Mexico), Henry Martin (Mexico), Alexis Vega (Mexico), Eric David (Panama), Brendan Aaronson (United States), Weston McKennie (United States), Cristian Pulisic (United States), Antonee Robinson (United States) - 2 goals
Cyle Larin (Canada) - 12 goals
Jonathan David (Canada) - 9 goals
Tony Rugamas (El Salvador) - 8 goals
Canadian Suspension Watch (every 2 yellow cards):
Steven Vitoria: 4 yellow cards (Vitoria has already served his suspension)
Tajon Buchanan, Richie Laryea: 3 yellow cards
Atiba Hutchinson, Doneil Henry, Sam Adekugbe: 2 yellow cards (Henry and Adekugbe are both suspended for Canada’s next game, Hutchinson has already served his suspension)
Samuel Piette, Mark Anthony Kaye, Stephen Eustaquio, Lucas Cavallini, Liam Fraser: 1 yellow card
Canada’s Expected Goals stats:
xG for: 16.67 (1.51 per game)
xG against: 9.91 (0.90 per game)
xG difference: +6.76
So overall, there was a lot to like with this camp if you’re Canada.
For all of the question marks that one might’ve had heading into it, such as the absences, the travel or the level of opposition, Canada quickly showed that they wouldn’t be too bothered by all of that, just sticking to their game plan.
And thanks to that, they were able to craft together the perfect window, one that will likely be seen as the moment where many people realized that this team will be in Qatar later this year.
But in a sense, they’ve been building towards this for a while now. They had 5 points in their first window, 5 in their second window, before picking up 6 in their third window, so obviously they were ready for a big boost in the fourth window.
This big of a boost, however? Not sure anyone was expecting that, but it was a welcome one, one that has this team on the verge of completing a long and winding journey to get back to a place they haven’t been to in a long time, that famed World Cup.
Yet, for the first time in a long time, it’s a tangible thing, one that you can almost reach out and touch, and that just shows how far this team has come, with this window just being another example in a long line of them that shows good things are still to come for this Canadian team.
Destroy and Progress - A Canadian Soccer Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Canada’s Cyle Larin, Jonathan David and Liam Millar celebrate a goal against El Salvador (Canada Soccer/Martin Bazyl)