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Canada 0-1 El Salvador: Reds attack goes dull in friendly

Canada just didn’t look sharp going forward and it cost them.

Soccer: 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifyer-El Salvador at Canada Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Canadian men’s national team suffered just their second loss of 2017, falling 1-0 to El Salvador in a friendly. Denis Penida scored the lone goal of the match late in the second half.

The match proved to be a good test for the Canadian national team. Houston provided a scenario that had a lot of factors the reds would find on the road in CONCACAF. Canada was forced to deal with the heat of Houston, a large and vocal El Salvador crowd and calls that didn’t always go their way.

The chippy affair saw Canada awarded five yellow cards for various infractions, many of which were debatable at best. It was a good lesson for many young Canadian players in some of the challenges that come with playing matches in CONCACAF.

The first half was devoid of many chances for either side. Canada controlled the majority of the ball but were unable to convert it into anything substantial. El Salvador, meanwhile, looked dangerous on the counter attack but never really tested Simon Thomas in the Canadian goal.

Moments into the second half, however, El Salvador came close to opening the scoring when they tested Thomas in the Canadian net. Thomas, however, dealt well once again with the chance. Despite the loss Canada’s keeper gave a good account of himself.

El Salvador v Canada: Group B - 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Canada responded with a good spell of attacking pressure themselves. Scott Arfield had a chance to get Canada on the board in the 50th minute but shot the ball directly at Derby Carrillo in the El Salvador net.

It was one of the few chances Canada created during the match, a bit of a regression after the dangerous attacking play they showed during the Gold Cup and in a September friendly against Jamaica. The absence of players like Junior Hoilett was evident.

Ultimately it was El Salvador who finally found a breakthrough in the 74th minute. A well hit cross from Dustin Corea alluded the Canadian backline before finding the foot of Penida who poked the ball home from in close after he got in behind Mark-Anthony Kaye.

The moment was unfortunate for Kaye, as the 22-year-old put in an otherwise very strong performance as a makeshift left back. Under Zambrano, Kaye has developed into a versatile and dependable player, and today’s game was another example of that fact.

Youth was certainly the theme of the day for Canada as several young players were given opportunities to earn a spot in the team going forward. Among them was Kris Twardek who made his national team debut late in the second half.

This match could be Canada’s last action of 2017. As of right now they do not have a friendly scheduled for the November international window, with no details forthcoming about whether or not one will ultimately take place.