BC Place Vancouver, BC
The Headliner: Waiting Four Year for Revenge
Canadian soccer didn't die the day in 2012 that Honduras beat them 8-1, but the program sure flatlined for a while, and has still not fully recovered. Even a win today which would be massive for Canada's hopes of reaching the Russia 2018 World Cup wouldn't fully get the program back on its feet.
That isn't to say it wouldn't be a start. Beating an opponent that infamously and embarrassingly eliminated them from the last round of World Cup qualifying in front of a sizeable Canadian crowd, and a national audience on TSN, would be massive.
The team certainly has the talent to beat the Hondurans, as what has already been proven to be a solid, albeit nothing special, squad in CONCACAF has added notable talent leading up to qualifiers. While Lucas Cavallini's injury hurts Canada's striker depth, Junior Hoilett and Fraser Aird add a boost just at the right time to the team.
Canada also comes into the competition in form, after an impressive 1-1 draw against Ghana in October. The team looked confident, creative and good enough to beat just about anyone in CONCACAF.
Well, no anyone. The reason tonight's game is so crucial is the fact that Canada have been grouped with Mexico, the best team in the region presently. That means the team will likely be competing with Honduras for second place in the group, which would mean advancement to the final round of qualifying for the first time since 1998 World Cup qualifying.
Beating Honduras at home would be a big step in that direction, as history would dictate that it is unlikely Canada pick up points in the reverse leg in San Pedro Sula. A draw, or even worse a loss, against Honduras would be incredibly costly for the Canadian effort.
Key to the Game: Play Like to Bigger Team
Canada are at home, they arguably have a better team, and this is a must win game. So why not go for it? Under Benito Floro Canada has rarely played like a giant, preferring to play a structured and defensive game. It cost them at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and they cannot let it cost them again.
Part of the reason the Ghana game was so impressive had to do with how offensive and creative the Canadian attackers played, particularly Hoilett who is a handful for any team when on his game. The same can be said of Cyle Larin and Tesho Akindele, although both have not always shown it in Canadian colours.
If Canada wants to win this game, they have to play to win, not to draw as they have done in the past. If they can do that both tonight and on Tuesday they need to play this style.
CANADA Starting XI: Borjan, De Jong, Jakovic, Straith, Ouimette, de Guzman (c), Hutchinson, Johnson, Ricketts, Hoilett, Larin
Milan Borjan starts in goal for Canada after being on the bench the last time Canada played Honduras. In front of him are Sporting KC's Marcel De Jong, Dejan Jakovic, Adam Straith and Karl Ouimette of the New York Red Bulls in a backline. It surprisingly doesn't include mainstay David Edgar, who is coming off injury.
A midfield trio of Atiba Hutchinson, Will Johnson and Julian De Guzman will be counted on to be a strong veteran presence in the midfield.
Up front, Tosaint Ricketts, Junior Hoilett and Cyle Larin will be counted on to do what Canada always fail to: score.