Canada dominate Honduras to book place in CONCACAF Nations League semi-finals
“Champagne football” is a little different in CONCACAF, as are most things.
Canada’s performance Tuesday night to secure their first Nations League semi-final appearance was as champagne as Honduras has ever seen a Canadian men’s national team play. And the rest of the region should get used to it.
Canada played the Central Americans off the park from the get-go. In front of a loud but sparsely populated crowd at BMO Field, Canada wasted little time sending the fans – those that were able to make it in the ground in a timely fashion, a least – into a frenzy.
And getting them of the mark was none other than the Canadian who has become “Mr. La Liga” since a perfectly timed January transfer to Real Valladolid.
Cyle Larin, the Brampton Benzema, had the chance for a dream first-half hat-trick, but perhaps wanted it just a little too much. So did the fans, and media, in attendance.
The halftime break didn’t take away any of Canada’s momentum.
Jonathan David continued his stellar goal-scoring form adding CanMNT’s third on the night, which made his close friend Alphonso Davies as happy as anyone, based on the celebration.
Atiba Hutchinson came on for the final half an hour to a great reception, in what could very well be his final appearance at BMO Field.
Herdman did take the opportunity to experiment in the second half, giving St. Louis CITY stand-out centre-back Kyle Heibert his first national team cap. Canada adjusted to a 4-4-2 formation after the Winnipeg native came on as part of a quadruple substitution that included Hutchinson, Sam Adekugbe, and Richie Laryea, allowing Alphonso Davies to temporarily move forward to play alongside David up front before Toronto FC’s Ayo Akinola replaced Davies in the 75th minute.
Milan Borjan’s clean sheet was spoiled in the 72nd minute turning the scoreline into one that flattered the Hondurans – before Canada’s fourth goal, at least.
As expected for fans of Borjan’s Pants, they were perfect.
Meanwhile, as TFC fans know all too well, Jonathan Osorio does not quit. The Toronto FC midfielder fended off two Honduran defenders to slot home the insurance marker.
“Is this the worst Honduras you’ve ever seen?” and “Remember when Honduras was the team to be afraid of?” were frequently asked questions in the press box. Their goal may have served as consolation for any of the few hundred Honduran fans that may have made the drive from out of town. This was not the same type of crowd that used to cheer on Honduras against Canada, and it was certainly not the same team that used to employ the dark arts because they had the edge technically and tactically. It is a very different game now. This is a very different Canada.
There was a time, not that long ago, when Canadians would pray just to see their team be competitive against the World Cup-experienced nations of CONCACAF. Now, they’re dominating.
Tuesday’s win was CanMNT’s seventh straight on home soil, extending an unbeaten run at home to a remarkable 15 games.
Canadian fans, whether in the stadium are not, can look forward to seeing Canada in action again in the CONCACAF Nations League semi-final round in Las Vegas where they will face Panama, which could set up a dream final against either the United States or Mexico.
Herdman and his players have made it very clear that the goal is to win trophies. They’ve got a pretty golden opportunity before the Gold Cup to do just that.