Canada vs. Cuba
7:00 PM Eastern
Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Colorado, USA
The Headliner: Moving On and Gaining Momentum
The chances that Canada finish at the top of their group are incredibly small at this point. The Canadians have seven goals to make up on the United States, and would require Panama to beat the Americans. So the best Canada can really hope for is finishing second with a strong result over Cuba.
This will likely see them play Mexico in the semi-finals, which is something they would have liked to avoid before the competition, so going into that game with confidence is important. After a disappointing 3-1 loss to the United States to open the tournament, Canada recovered well with a 3-1 victory over Panama.
That game, and performance, gives the team some hope and is a sign of improvement. This summer Canada played against Panama at the Pan Am games and were unable to score, with the match ending in a 0-0 draw. Scoring three goals, and it could have been more, is a good sign.
Leading the way in this regard is Michael Petrasso, who had a goal and an assist against Panama to go with scoring Canada's lone goal against the United States. The Queen's Park Rangers forward has looked absolutely dominant at this level.
Ben Fisk also impressed in his brief substitute appearance, with a clinical finish that rescued Canada in a time where they looked to be letting Panama back in the game. He could have a key role to play going forward as one of the big offensive threats on the Canadian team.
Key to the Game: Putting it beyond reach
Cuba have been poor so far this competition. After nicking a point against a ten-man Panama, the Cubans were blown out 6-1 by the Americans. On paper it should be a fairly easy victory for the Canadian team, but these are the kind of games that Canada traditionally likes to drop.
Last qualifying campaign Canada had all but locked up the top spot in their group until the 90th minute of their last game against Haiti. That unexpected draw forced them to play Mexico in the knockout rounds, a match that they ultimately lost.
Against Cuba it's important that Canada put that beyond a doubt early, get a 2 to 3 goal lead and go from there. It's easier said than done, but it is also crucial so that Canada avoid the sort of late game collapse that could ultimately eliminate them from a chance at the knockout rounds.
Canada- Crepeau, Farmer, Gasparotto, Thomas, Gagnon-Lapare, Piette, Mannella, Eustaquio, Petrasso, Clarke, Jackson-Hamel
Not surprisingly, Benito Floro has made no changes from the lineup that lost to the United States in the first game. The only difference in the starting lineup the entire tournament was when Jay Chapman replace Mauro Eustaquio in the lineup last match.