Canadians Abroad Roundup: it was only a matter of time until Alphonso Davies scored
Our Canadians abroad must’ve caught wind of the roundup’s return to the Internet. How else can we explain the glut of fine performances we’ve witnessed over the past two weeks?
Let’s not waste any more time and dive right into some of the notable performers over the last seven days.
Move aside, Eden Hazard. There’s a new king of Lille.
Having bagged a hat-trick in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Lyon on Friday, Jonathan David became the club’s all-time leading scorer with 53 goals.
We’ve all watched the hat trick on repeat by now, and it’s fantastic to see David scoring regularly. All of his potential suitors will be comforted knowing he can consistently produce the goods.
But I want to highlight the other traits of David’s game, beginning with his ability to find space. Watch how he times this run, pulls back to receive a pass, then sets up a chance.
It doesn’t stand out but that spacial awareness is key for any striker and makes them so dangerous.
Last but not least, the defensive work rate is astonishing. Ask John Herdman about David’s performance and – unprompted – he’ll usually pick out this specific area.
That’s why it’s important to remember that when David isn’t scoring or creating shot assists, he’s always contributing elsewhere.
Related read: Canadian of the Week: Phonzie’s run continues, David makes history, Lacasse lets loose
It’s strange to say this about a left-back but it was only a matter of time until Alphonso Davies scored. He was averaging 0.20 expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes over his last nine games, which is ridiculously high for a full-back.
Davies finally earned his reward against Augsburg with a fine goal in the 5-3 victory on Saturday, bringing him up to three in all competitions this season.
Like the last few games, Davies was everywhere, from beating defenders on the dribble while cutting inside…
… to tracking back and recovering possession.
All in a day’s work for Bayern Munich’s roadrunner.
Make it four goals in seven games for Cyle Larin at Real Valladolid. His strike against Elche required a bit of fortune, but the overall sequence exemplified Larin’s hot start in La Liga.
Larin’s hold-up play has been a staple in Valladolid, and it was on full display for this goal.
The hold-up, coupled with some off-the-ball runs and awareness, were shown off throughout the game, too.
No wonder why he’s taken to Spain so quickly.
The short-lived Scott Parker era is over at Club Brugge after they were smacked 5-1 by Benfica in the Champions League.
That could be music to Tajon Buchanan’s ears, as he appeared to be hampered by Parkerball. Despite picking up an assist in the loss to Benfica, Buchanan seldom had opportunities to do what he does best: running at defenders.
In fact, Buchanan’s numbers don’t exactly stand out – whether it’s under Parker or throughout the season.
With Buchanan linked to some big clubs, it’s imperative that Brugge get him firing again ahead of a potential summer move.
I’m excited to see a fully fit Stephen Eustáquio with Canada, especially when he’s playing like he did over the weekend with FC Porto.
Eustáquio completed 45 of his 50 passes, won two of his three defensive duels and looked like his usual composed self in the victory over Estoril.
He’ll have a chance to replicate that performance against Inter on Tuesday in a must-win game.
In Chris Wilder’s first game as Watford manager, Ismaél Koné was an unused substitute. Wilder preferred a double pivot with Hamza Choudhury and Imran Louza.
There is fixture congestion leading into the international break, so we’ll see if Koné receives an opportunity.
A goal last week and an assist this week. Life is good for Alistair Johnston these days.
As I discussed last week, Johnston has been active in the final third but wasn’t registering the assists to go with it. That was a long time coming.
He’s also very comfortable playing as an inverted full-back where he tucks inside in possession and picks his moments to get forward.
Hopefully, we’ll see more of the same against Honduras at BMO Field.
Ross County wasn’t in action this weekend but Victor Loturi is still a topical name this week. He received a provisional call-up to South Sudan, which would cap-tie the 21-year-old to the African nation.
If this doesn’t expedite Loturi’s path to the Canadian men’s national team, then obviously nothing will.
Last week, Liam Millar logged 89 minutes as a right wingback in their 1-0 win over Luzern before returning to the front three as a substitute against Slovan Bratislava in midweek.
Regardless, that’s a positive development. Junior Hoilett is injured and will miss this window for Canada, so that could open up a starting spot for Millar.
Unfortunately, that Luzern game has been Millar’s only start since January due to injury. He’ll need to play more regularly over the next couple of weeks to warrant that opportunity.
Johnston’s suspension against Curacao should inspire confidence in Mo Farsi because there’s a potential opportunity awaiting and he’s shined in the last two games for the Columbus Crew.
Last week, I analyzed Farsi’s need to adapt offensively in MLS. The following week, he was one of Columbus’ most active chance creators against D.C. United.
The relentless pressing remained and the comfort in possession crawled out of the woodwork Saturday night against Toronto FC. That bodes well for the former futsal star.
We went over the reasons why Kyle Hiebert could be called up this month. Scoring for St. Louis CITY shouldn’t hurt, either.
Jacob Shaffelburg literally couldn’t have chosen a better time to strike.
That will only bolster Shaffelburg’s case to be called up this month.
With Sam Adekugbe lacking match fitness, there could be an opening at left-back as well. That bodes well for Luca Petrasso, who has impressed in his brief stint with Orlando City so far.
Petrasso received a start in the CONCACAF Champions League at Tigres and performed admirably given the circumstances.
The 22-year-old didn’t have many opportunities to bomb forward but when he did, he was productive.
Defensively, Petrasso remained diligent and didn’t concede much territory on the left flank.
Might this lead to a Canada call-up this week?
Speaking of centre-back replacements, Dominick Zator might have a shot.
He has nearly 700 minutes with Korona Kielce in Poland and even though he’s been used at right-back, there’ve been many situations when Zator lines up as a right-sided centre-back in a back three in possession.
As we saw when he played in the CPL, Zator is pretty comfortable playing from the back under pressure…
… He actively presses opponents off the ball…
… And he’s decent at one-on-one duels, so long as he isn’t exposed in open space.