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Canada Give Reason For Optimism in Win over Honduras

It is far from "mission accomplished" yet, but there is plenty of optimism to be taken out of how Canada opened round four of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

It was the 8-1 loss to Honduras that everyone will remember from the last World Cup qualifying cycle. But ask around, and most will point to a 0-0 home loss to Honduras as the true moment that Canada was eliminated from the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

Tonight was Canada's chance at revenge for both results, and for once Canada took advantage. Playing Honduras for the first time since that fateful day in 2012, Canada looked anything but the side that were road kill in San Pedro Sula, en route to a crucial 1-0 win.

Not only did they do it in front of a passionate crowd at BC Place that provided the best atmosphere the men's team has seen in many cycles, they did it in front of a national audience on TSN.

Cyle Larin scored the lone goal in the first half off of a bizarre deflection following a header from Will Johnson, and it was enough to secure Canada the victory.

It was the perfect start to the World Cup qualifying campaign, both in terms of the result and how they played in the match itself.

For once, Canada didn't sit back. Even in the second half they weren't content with just one goal and kept pushing forward looking to make it 2-0. They attacked the Hondurans for most of the 90 minutes, something displayed in the fact that they had 54 per cent possession.

There was a certain pride to the performance as well, a certain swagger that hasn't been evident in past performances. This team was proud to have the maple leaf on their chest, and they battled for it for the full 90 minutes.

The team still had trouble generating top quality chances, but managed to out-chance the Hondurans who only had two shots on net all match. Will Johnson hit the post, and came close on a header in the second half.

He, alongside Atiba Hutchinson and Julian De Guzman, were crucial to the Canadian victory. In the midfield Canada looked relentless in defense and composed in attack as they led the team to victory.

In fact, for the two veteran midfielders it was their best performance for Canada is some time. For both this is almost certainly their final World Cup cycle, and they want to make sure they leave on a high note, which was demonstrated by their effort tonight.

Then there was Junior Hoilett, the missing man when Canada last tried to qualify for the World Cup. His sins in this regard were at least partially forgiven tonight after a solid performance, and a brilliant cross that led to the first goal.

Once again Hoilett proved that he is the perfect player for Canada in CONCACAF qualifiers: quick, tricky and possessing the ability to get in a quality cross to the team's capable finishers.

In Hoilett is also a player who seems to have an innate understanding of what it takes to win in CONCACAF. The team seemed to feed off this, time killing like professionals when the Hondurans were chasing the lead in the second half.

It is an ugly tactic, to be sure, but one that Canadian opponents have used to burn them time and time again over the years. Canada's retort may not have been pretty, but it was necessary in acquiring three points.

Three points, that's all that it will read in the standings and Canada best move their attentions forward. As crucial as that home win against Honduras was, just as crucial is getting three points on the road against El Salvador.

This is especially true considering the fact that the El Salvadorian team is short staffed after a player strike within their organization. So it is far from "mission accomplished" just yet.

If Canada won the first battle tonight in the fourth round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, the bulk of the war lies ahead. So does much bigger tests in much more difficult venues.