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Nik Ledgerwood: Canada Committed and Confident Ahead of Jamaica Match

After drawing their first game at the 2015 Gold Cup against El Salvador 0-0 Canada are disappointed but far from defeated.

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

When Benito Floro took over as the manager for the Canadian Men's National team, the squad set a goal for themselves that they would no longer be easy to beat. Win or lose the target was to demonstrate to the opposition that they shouldn't be taken lightly.

Having accomplished that goal for two years, this mindset no longer satisfies Nik Ledgerwood and his Canadian teammates. When they play their second match of the 2015 Gold Cup on Saturday against Jamaica, only a win will do.

"I think now we have to get the mindset that not only do we want to challenge teams but [that] we want to go out and win the game," Ledgerwood explained to Waking The Red. "I think that's what we have now. Nobody is thinking ‘oh I hope we go out and have a good performance against Jamaica'. We want to win."

This mentality is very different from two years ago at the 2013 Gold Cup when Canada was unable to score a single goal.

Canada lost its opening match 1-0 to CONCACAF minnow Martinique before losing 2-0 to Mexico and drawing 0-0 with Panama. It is a memory that Ledgerwood doesn't really like to think about.

"There was definitely some flaws throughout the preparation and everything going into the last Gold Cup," said Ledgerwood. "I don't want to talk about that too much, but I think the professionalism now is steps ahead of the last Gold Cup."

Ledgerwood believes the same of the Canadian soccer program, which he says is at a very high level at the moment. In 2013 ahead of the Gold Cup Canada did not win a single game and only scored one goal.

Going into this year's tournament their form is very different: Canada has only lost once in 2015. They have also scored 12 goals so far this year, impressive even if half of them came against Dominica.

"I think all the players that are here right now at the moment are players that want to be here, they want to see the program succeed and they want to help out the program," said Ledgerwood of a big reason why the national team has been performing so well as of late.

He particularly takes pride in how the backline has come together recently. A 0-0 draw on Wednesday against El Salvador represented Canada's fifth straight clean sheet.

"The backline is really on the same page, it has been like that for a while now," explained Ledgerwood who started at rightback on Wednesday. "I think the guys have gelled together extremely well."

But while the El Salvador game was another clean sheet for the team it wasn't exactly the performance or the result they wanted. That leaves them with only one option, move on and focus on the next two.

"As soon as the 0-0 ended on Wednesday I think the first feeling was that everyone was really disappointed," said Ledgerwood. But the team quickly moved on. "We got the heads up again real quick and just said let's concentrate on the next game against Jamaica."

Jamaica is a team Canada have good knowledge of, having beaten them 3-1 in September. While that gives the team confidence going into the match, however, they know this time is going to be different.

"I think everyone is smart enough and intelligent enough on the team that we know it's not going to be the same game, not going to be the same Jamaica team that shows up," Ledgerwood explained. "We're definitely not taking it lightly just because we beat them before."

If Canada can get a victory, it will set them up well for their final match of the group stage, and first ever home match at a CONCACAF Gold Cup. Ledgerwood and his teammates are incredibly excited about the opportunity to play Costa Rica at BMO Field.

"We've done extremely well playing there in the past and guys are familiar to the stadium and the city. We usually get a good turnout with the fans so hopefully it is a pro Canada atmosphere," said Ledgerwood, laughing as he estimated there were 10 Canadian fans at the El Salvador match.

While the Costa Rica match is important, the goal for this team is to make sure that it isn't the team's last game of the tournament.

"We need to get into the knockout stage," explained Ledgerwood. "For Canadian Soccer it's big, for myself it is definitely a goal but if you get into the knockout stage anything can happen."