Marco Carducci proved to be a hero for Canada as the Vancouver Whitecaps residency goalkeeper made a number of big second half saves to preserve a single point for Canada in a 1-1 draw against Iran. He did have some help from his post and poor finishing by Iran but he needed that help to make up for the complete lack of coverage that his defenders were giving him.
Canada come away with their second draw in as many games at the Under-17 World Cup thanks to a second half goal from Jordan Hamilton who could very well have had a few other goals in the match. Both Hamilton (or 'Henderson' as the commentator kept calling him) and Hanson Boakai looked very lively at times in the attack and frequently found themselves in dangerous positions. Canada could not make the most of those chances though as they managed just the one goal.
Hamilton's goal was quite similar to the one he scored in the first game against Austria as the ball fell kindly to his feet in the middle of the box and he had time to set himself and apply a decent finish. This time the chance came off a corner which was headed on by Elias Roubos and bounced around before finding Hamilton. The Toronto FC Academy forward did well to take his time to get the ball out from under him before slotting it just inside the post where none of the Iranian defenders on the goal line was going to be able to block it.
Canada would find the back of the net a second time later in the second half when Andrew Gordon collected a pass from Boakai and slotted it under the keeper but the whistle had already blown. The linesman had ruled that before crossing the ball in Boakai had allowed it to travel over the end-line for a goal kick. It was a close call but in the end seems to have been the correct one.
Iran's lone goal in the match was similar to the one that they scored against Argentina. It came in the 7th minute of play and once again it was a long range effort. Amirhossein Karimi took advantage of a lack of pressure by Canada's holding midfielders to set up his shot which he curled into the corner of the goal giving Carducci no chance of stopping it.
It was a balanced first half with both teams doing very little defending and wasting a number of chances. That trend continued into the second half as the teams traded chances but neither was anywhere near clinical enough in the final third. Between a few big saves and a whole lot of wasted chances the game ended up being a 1-1 draw.
The bad news for Canada was that they were carved open with ease time after time with complete ease by Iran. Only Kevon Black put in a solid performance among the 6 defensive players and Marco-Leonel Dominguez had such a rough outing that he was subbed off just 35 minutes into the game. Coach Fleming will likely be far from happy with their performance.
Canada will also be concerned about the way they faded down the stretch. For the first 70 minutes of the game things were fairly even with both teams creating chances but down the stretch Canada began to fade allowing Iran to take control of the game. Fleming left one of his subs unused which probably did not help but by the end of the game almost every player in red looked completely gassed. If that happens again it could prove to be more costly for Canada than it was against Iran as a lack of finishing let them off the hook in this one.
So now Canada head into the final match of their group stage on Friday morning. The good news is that their group wraps up on the final day so by the time Canada takes to the field they should have a fairly clear picture of what they need to do to advance. There is a good chance that it will mean Canada having to beat Argentina but with some luck a draw could wind up being enough, and with 4 third place finishers advancing, if a lot of results go right, a narrow defeat meaning 2 points and a small negative goal difference might be enough given some of the lopsided results other teams have suffered so far.
The scoreboard watching for Canada begins with Argentina-Austria later on Tuesday and will continue up until they take the field against Argentina on Friday.