So here we are, after two performances that were pretty much about what you'd expect from such a rag-tag squad, and two defeats, Canada goes into it's final group stage game knowing that it's do or die as far as making the knockout stages goes (it could well be do AND die, but more on that later). Anything less than 3 points will guarantee 4th place in the group and an early flight home, whereas the win does at least give them a chance.
What are the chances of that? Well, probably not good. Simeon Jackson and Will Johnson won't be back, I haven't seen anything specific about Russell Tiebert either so best to assume he's still out through illness. Adding to that is that Marcus Haber was rated as 50/50 to overcome the injury he picked up that kept him out of the second half on Thursday. So there won't be a sudden injection of quality to kickstart the moribund attack. It'll be very much more of the same from Canada.
Reasons for hope? Well, Panama with 6 points are already assured of qualification so may decide to rest some players for the quarter finals, take it a bit easy knowing a draw would be enough to guarantee them first and even a defeat would see them at least in 2nd place. Also, weather reports from Denver suggest the possibility of storms, so this could be a rain affected (possibly lightning delayed) slogfest, with set pieces or errors more likely than skill to be the deciding factor, which would tip things in Canada's favour a bit. So, there's straws to be grasped, reason to watch beyond just a sense of obligation and the ever present looking for glimpses of future potential.
Anyway, back to that do And die scenario, what exactly do Canada need here? Here's the current standings:
and here's the tiebreaker criteria (presuming wikipedia is correct.)
In the group stage, if two or more teams are equal on points (including among third-placed teams in different groups), the ranking of teams will be determined as follows:
Greater goal difference in all group matches
Greater number of goals scored in all group matches
Greatest number of points obtained in group matches between the teams concerned (applicable only to ranking in each group)
Drawing of lots by the Gold Cup Organizing Committee
So, Canada needs to win first of all to get to 3 points, then it's sit back and watch what happens with Mexico v Martinique. If they tie, then they're both on 4 points and both qualify, Canada doesn't. You'd hope there wouldn't be any kind of gentleman's agreement to guarantee that result, but stranger things have happened. Moving on.
If there's a loser of that game, then they would be tied on points with Canada at 3, so it goes to goal difference, where Canada has a total of -3 to make up, as well as having scored fewer goals than either Mexico or Martinique currently. If it goes to the 4th option of head to head record, then Canada's definitely out having lost to both teams.
Let's run through some results;
If Canada wins 1-0, Mexico has to beat Martinique by 3, or Martinique has to beat Mexico by 4.
Martinique is not going to win by 4, and there's 0 chance of Canada overtaking Mexico on goals scored, we're just not going to score 4 times, never ever ever, so let's focus on Mexico beating Martinique.
If Canada wins 2-1, then they'd have a chance of ending with more goals than Martinique, so a 2-0 Mexico win would do nicely.
Obviously the bigger the difference Canada wins by, the smaller the result has to be in the other game, Canada wins by 2, Mexico only has to win 1-0, or by any margin of 2. Canada wins by 3, then a one goal defeat would be just fine.
As you can see, it seems unlikely but there is a chance that Canada can take that 3rd spot, would it be enough to get one of the 2 best 3rd place spots. Almost guaranteed yes, thanks to group C, where both Cuba and Belize sit on 0 points with a -6 goal difference, they play each other on Tuesday and either team is going to need a huge win to finish ahead of the group A 3rd place team on goal difference, which i think is unlikely.
So there you go, there's a chance still, though it may rest more on luck, climate and Panamanian relaxation than anything in particular Canada can do.
This is the game thread as well as preview, so we'll have team news when it comes out and then running commentary/cynicism/fatalism through the game, hopefully topped off with some unlikely triumph.
Alllez les rouges!