In his first home match as manager, Benito Floro's side certainly put on an exhibition that demonstrated why this team is making progress under the new manager. Sadly, there weren't all that many people on hand to see it. But the team picked up the slack left by their lack of supporters, with one of their best performances in recent memory.
The importance of Canada's 3-1 victory over Jamaica can be found in the often quoted statistics, cited because of their significance. It was the first win since the October 2012 match against Cuba, prior to the program's implosion in San Pedro Sula, a run of 16 matches. It was also the first time that Canada has scored multiple goals since that very same match, also at BMO Field. If nothing else, this seemed like a glimpse at the light at the end of the tunnel that Benito Floro has been talking about.
Floro absolutely deserves credit as well, even if this was only one result. Canada looked confident from the opening whistle and rarely looked fazed by anything thereafter. A perfect example of this was when Jamaica opened the scoring on virtually their only chance of a fairly dominant Canadian first half. Instead of rolling over as past incarnations might have done, Canada replied in a matter of minutes courtesy of a stunning strike from David Edgar, a corner played intentionally deep to where Edgar awaited about 25 yards out and his volley flew low just inside the post.
The offense seemed to only continue from there, as a creative midfield centring around Atiba Hutchinson thoroughly outclassed the Jamaicans. They simply had no answer in the middle of the park for a solid Julian De Guzman, an energetic Issey Nakajima-Farran, a visibly experienced Patrice Bernier and even a confident looking Kyle Bekker later on. This group was able to hold possession well, something even early Floro matches had this team doing well. Unfortunately the finishing left a lot to be desired with many shots hit over the bar or weakly at the goalie, Randy Edwini-Bonsu in particular struggled.
Those struggles continued in the second half but the goals came anyway, firstly from a direct free kick from Marcel de Jong into the top corner from about 25 yards out. The clinching 3rd goal came via a terrible gaffe from the Jamaican goalie, Philadelphia's highly rated prospect Andre Blake. A long range cross/shot came in from Simeon Jackson on the right wing, Blake came out to gather it in, but instead he very obligingly dropped it right at the feet of Tosaint Ricketts who knocked it home.
A lot of positives could also of be seen from the backline. None of its members looked uncomfortable in their positons, as they thwarted several Jamaican attacks. They were also often key in the attack, especially Marcel De Jong with the aforementioned free kick and some good support down the wing in attack. A big surprise was Doneil Henry, who was solid in his unusual positon as a right back. While he didn't do all that much offensively, not for lack of enthusiasm but a natural overlapping full back he is not, almost no Jamaican attacks came from his side of the field.
Jamaica did, however, break down Canada's defense on more than one occasion. This resulted from speed for the most part as often times Edgar and second half sub Dejan Jakovic would be left playing catch up. This was partially due to poor coverage, but also seemed to be somewhat the result of a poor linesman, as several times Canada were left yelling at the sideline official. In the end, it all resulted in a man of the match performance from Milan Borjan who made some absolutely stellar saves for Canada.
Borjan as always was a good example of something else that had been lacking as late, passion, which was completely evident in Canada's game. The players truly did look like they were proud to represent their country on this night, something that has not always been the case. In particular, Nakajima-Farran and Borjan seemed to have an extra spring in their step in this one as they raised their level of play in order to ensure Canada a favourable result. It turns out San Pedro Sula didn't completely destroy Canadian spirit, there is some left and it continues to grow.
Sadly, that spirit did not find its way to the stands for this match as the crowd was only 12,162 including a sizable Jamaican contingent. A lot of factors likely added to this. It was a later game on a Tuesday night, and the Blue Jays were also playing, it was only a friendly and let's face it, Canada's performances since that last game at BMO a couple of years back haven't exactly been inspiring. But those who were in the stands, especially the Voyageurs, were brilliant, as usual, in making their cheers heard. As aforementioned, they certainly had a lot to cheer about.
This match could be an anomaly, they had to win eventually. But the way it developed seemed to hint at something more. Maybe Floro can truly find something in this group of players that makes them competitive on the CONCACAF stage. One thing is for sure, more performances like that and the crowds are sure to follow sooner or later.
Here's the highlights. Enjoy the build up to the 2nd goal where the commentator says that TFC have plenty of options!