Following a solid start in World Cup Qualifying, Canada was in a comfortable position securing 4 points from 2 matches. This was despite scoring only one goal in those games as they were able to keep two clean sheets. However, a pair of matches against CONCACAF giants Mexico exposed Canada's weaknesses and they were thumped in a 3-0 loss at home followed by a 2-0 loss in Mexico. While Canada is still certainly alive in this World Cup campaign, the reason for concern is not in the standings, but the fact that the team simply cannot score.
How bad is Canada's goal drought you ask? In the last 7 matches that were in either the Gold Cup or semi final round of WCQ, they have produced 1 goal - off of Larin's backside. For obvious purposes we are excluding the early rounds of World Cup qualifying and friendly matches in these statistics. Let's take it back further now. In the last five years or since 2011, Canada has played in 19 matches in either the Gold Cup or Semi Final round of World Cup Qualifying. They have only scored 9 goals in those matches for an average of 0.47 goals per game.
As bad as that sounds, it only gets worse when considering the manner in which those goals were scored. Four were in two matches against Cuba, who didn't even make the semi-final round of qualifying this campaign and can also be regarded as a ‘minnow'. Another two were from free kicks, one direct and one off of a quick cross, while another two were from penalty kicks. The last goal was from Cyle Larin against Honduras this past November, which dribbled in off his backside.
Essentially, disregarding Cuba, Canada has scored one single goal in their last 17 games from open play when considering meaningful matches against competitive teams. That goal, once again, came off of Cyle Larin's back, which one would have to describe as a fortunate bounce. Therefore, when Canada plays a country in the top 120 in the FIFA rankings, you might as well switch the channel when we have the ball until a set piece occurs because it would be a legitimate miracle that we score from open play.
Even then, as we witnessed against Mexico, Canada might take those set pieces short and we won't even get a touch of the ball in the 18 yard box as a result. This incredible goal scoring drought has resulted in three straight Gold Cup exists in the group stage for Canada and quite possibly will result in missing out on the hex once again.
On the flip side, Canada has kept 10 clean sheets in those 19 matches referenced above giving up a total of 22 goals for an average of 1.16 goals per game. If you exclude the 8-1 match against Honduras, Canada only give up 0.78 goals per game in those matches, so at least Canada have been defending properly. However, the old cliché applies: If you can't score goals, you can't win games.
Lucky for Canada a pair of 0-0 ties in September coupled by two Mexico wins will result in Canada making the hex by scoring one single goal. Maybe that was the Benito Floro plan all along and he is a tactical genius for realizing that one goal can secure passage to the hex? Or, maybe Canada will be back to a rebuilding phase following another early World Cup qualifying exit.