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Canada Take Shaky Step Forward on Road to Russia 2018

The closer Canada get to their goal of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, the less likely their chances of actually accomplishing that goal look.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Canada are moving on to round 4 of World Cup qualifying, but tonight's match proved just how far away they are from Russia 2018.

The Canadians won their round 3 qualifier against Belize 4-1 on aggregate, but stumbled to the finish line after an uninspiring 1-1 draw in Belmopan after winning 3-0 at BMO Field on Friday.

Deon McCauley opened the scoring for Belize, who after the goal looked poised to do the improbable: get back into the tie. However, a Will Johnson volley before halftime quickly dashed their hopes of a Cinderella story comeback.

While plenty can be said about how poor the Canadian team was in this match, due credit must be handed to Belize. With their backs against the wall the Belize team played a fearless brand of soccer that saw them create several problems for the Canadian team.

This could have partially been due to the fact that Belize had more players, as a few were not able to travel to Canada due to paperwork issues.

Now to the crux of the matter: if Belize are creating problems for the Canadian team than what will happen when the come up against Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador in the next round?

It is a question that won't be answered until mid-November, but any hints provided by this match don't suggest the answer will be favourable.

Canada once again proved that they do not travel well, looking completely different in this match than they did at BMO Field only four days ago.

The most startling contrast was in Canada's defending, which has been Benito Floro's trademark since coming aboard as head coach. The usually organized and impenetrable Canadian backline looked flimsy at best, allowing Belize a number of good opportunities.

Belize were unlucky to not get at least two more goals, as Milan Borjan came up big, and a little bit lucky, on both occasions. Borjan may have been Canada's best player in the match, a damning statement if there ever was one about the state of this team.

Defense was supposed to earn championships for Canada, or at the very least get some away points in the next round of qualifying. If today's display was any foreshadowing Canada will need plenty of goalscoring as well if they want those points.

The offense was no more promising, as the slow Canadian buildup struggled under the enormous pressure placed on it by Belize defenders.

As opposed to burning Belize on the wings as they had in the past games, as the home team did a good job of shutting down this option. In fact, the lineup play between fullback and winger was thwarted all game long.

Instead, Canada tried in vein to move the ball through the middle. Cyle Larin, who was not good in either game, had a difficult time executing the hold up play required of him.

The only one of Canada's front three who had any influence on the game was Tosaint Ricketts. However, Belize had clearly done their homework, and marked Ricketts, who scored twice in the first leg, out of the game.

On a more positive note, the match did include the debut of Vancouver Whitecaps fullback Sam Adekugbe. The London, England born 20-year-old has played 8 Major League Soccer games so far this season. He is now cap tied to the Canadian team.

Canada are hoping to play one more tune up game in October before the next round of qualifying, and that could now become crucial. This team has a lot of improvement to make in a short time before they take on teams at or above their level.

If not, their road to Russia could be done before next summer. For now, despite the detours, it continues, with an increasing number of road blocks.