The round of Group B games kicks off with Canada vs. Jamaica at 6:30 in Houston. Its 37 degrees at field level in Houston. Things are about to get hairy. Like, DeGuzman circa 2010 hairy.
Jamaica earned a 2-2 draw against presumed group winners Costa Rica, a game that allowed them to showcase their athleticism, creativity in attack, and team cohesion gained from their trip to Copa America. The Reggae Boyz have some potent attackers that will trouble Canada's attempts at resolute, organized defending. This game has the potential to decide the group and if Floro's defensive shape doesn't hold, Canada will be on the wrong end of that decision.
The thing we all want to talk about, though, is former TFC midfielder Kyle Bekker, and how he has no business sniffing around the starting lineup for this Canada team, certainly not with Teibert and Jonathan Osorio available. His game against El Salvador was very poor, and Floro didn't make the necessary adjustments - bringing Canada's two most creative players onto the field - until much too late.
You also may have heard or seen that Cyle Larin missed an absolute sitter. That won't happen again. Larin is one of the best pure goalscorers that Canada has had available in my lifetime. He moves intelligently and has shown that he knows how to score goals. Against Jamaica, though, Larin might be outmatched in the middle of the park. Wes Morgan and Jermaine Taylor are big central defenders with a lot of experience. Larin has a little bit of pace, enough to get a little separation from Morgan and Taylor, but Canada's truly quick players - Tesho Akindele, Simeon Jackson, even Tosaint Ricketts - may have a little more success there. That's not to say that Larin will get bullied, but (and I know nobody needs to be reminded) this is CONCACAF. Things will happen.
This is what I'd like to see against Jamaica. DeJong didn't have a great game against El Salvador, and Ashtone Morgan's pace could be valuable. Straith did a good job protecting the back four, but he's better as a central defender in my mind. Piette will have to step up his game from Wednesday, but he's Canada's most natural fit for the hard-tackling number 6 that our defense needs. Bekker loses his spot to Osorio and Teibert, who should provide some attacking ideas and allow Canada to possess the ball for longer stretches of the game. I'm tempted to slot Simeon Jackson into this game from the start in place of Akindele, but he may make an appearance as substitute to try and use his pace against tired fullbacks.
The game airs on Sportsnet World at 6:30. Be sure to support Canada wherever you are, and follow along on WTR to discuss the action.