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FT: Canada 1-0 New Zealand

The Canadian men’s national team kicked off the John Herdman era with a win.

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

The John Herdman era got off to winning start as Canada defeated New Zealand 1-0 in a friendly match in Murcia, Spain. Toronto FC’s Tosaint Ricketts had the lone goal of the match, his 16th for the national team.

After a nervy start it was a solid performance for Canada who kept possession well and had the bulk of the chances in the second half. Debutant Liam Millar, 19, was the man of the match for Canada as he caused New Zealand all kinds of problems.

Heavy winds in spain caused issues for both teams, and certainly played a factor in Canada’s goal. A long ball from LAFC defender Dejan Jakovic was picked up by the wind a sailed over the top to Ricketts who poked it home on the volley.

Let us know in the comments section below what you thought of Canada’s performance in their first game under Herdman.

86’ Nearly from Osorio who evades several challenges around the box and gets a shot off which is just wide. Canada hanging on to their lead well here.

78’ Again, Millar comes oh so close to scoring his first goal for the national team. A nice cross from Tesho Akindele is just deflected wide by the youngster who is now playing as a forward after starting the match on the left wing.

68’ Canada struggling to create much more, but so is New Zealand as Canada continues to have the most of the possession. Need to play the ball a little quicker if they want to score New Zealand from setting up.

54’ GOAL CANADA. A long ball from Dejan Jakovic gets picked up by the wind and Tosaint Ricketts latches onto it and scores the first goal of the Herdman era for Canada. It is his 16th goal for the national team.

46’ Canada makes a second substitution, bringing on debutant David Wotherspoon in the place of Mark-Anthony Kaye.

Half-time: It was a nervy first ten minutes from Canada but after that they settled down and had the better of possession. New Zealand is still getting the better of the chances, but Canada has the wind on their side in the second half. Millar has been the standout player for Canada so far on his debut. Osorio also controlling things well in the midfield when Canada has the ball.

45’+1 Michael Petrasso is coming off hurt. It doesn’t look too serious but he will be replaced by Marcus Godinho, who is making his Canada debut at 20. Godinho plays for Hearts in the SPL.

45’ Liam Millar beats a number of New Zealand defenders down the wing before having his cross cut out for a corner. He’s been Canada’s most dangerous player so far at just 19 and in his first appearance.

40’ Ex-Toronto FC man Jeremy Brockie looked to have opened the scoring for New Zealand but he is judged to be offside. Things at the back haven’t been ideal for Canada so far in this match.

31’ Osorio spends a couple of minutes trying to get the ball to not blow away while he is trying to take a corner kick. Hard to make too much happen in that kind of wind.

21’ Canada having the better of possession now. A Jonathan Osorio shot deflects to Cyle Larin in the box but he sees his shot stopped well by the Max Crocombe in the New Zealand net.

10’ New Zealand have already struck the post twice... so shaking start for the Herdman era.

6’ Very windy in Spain for this match, anything in the air so far has completely changed directions. Been a struggle for both teams so far.

Saturday’s international friendly between Canada and New Zealand will be all about evaluation. Evaluating John Herdman’s lineup and formation decisions. Evaluating Canada’s young talent in an international jersey. Evaluating the likes of older newcomers like David Wotherspoon.

It’ll be an inquisition of sorts. A Spanish one, if you will. (Bet you didn’t expect that).

Okay, I’m sorry. That was shocking. But if you came here for insightful analysis and commentary, you should probably be reading Mitch’s stories instead.

Anyway, the Canadian men’s national team are in Murcia, Spain for their first game under Herdman. It’ll be extremely interesting to see how he lines up his side for this. It seems a 4-2-3-1 is the safest bet, with Jonathan Osorio pulling strings in the middle and Cyle Larin hopefully finding his finishing ability up top.

That said, I believe Herdman favoured a 4-3-3 with the women’s national team. Of course, this is a completely different team with completely different players, although the men’s team did roll out a similar formation occasionally last summer, including a couple times in the Gold Cup I think.

Of course, it’s not a competitive match. Canada might play a number of formations, and they’ll certainly be making a lot of substitutions. I would hope to see a lot of young players given their first cap with the senior team, even though a friendly wouldn’t cap-tie them to Canada.

It may be worth giving a word to the opposition here. New Zealand are in a similar spot to Canada, preparing to play their first game under new manager Fritz Schmid (we saw their previous boss, Anthony Hudson, recently with the Colorado Rapids). The All-Whites missed out on this summer’s World Cup by losing a play-in game to Peru, so they, too, are looking ahead to the future by bringing a younger squad.

Minnesota United defender Michael Boxall and Wellington Phoenix winger Michael McGlinchey are expected to lead the side, with eight players looking for their first New Zealand cap.

This will be a fun game for CMNT fans. The future is, for the first time in a while, very bright. Players like Liam Millar, who’s making waves in the Liverpool youth system, and Marcus Godinho, who started for Hearts in the Edinburgh derby, could be huge pieces for Canada in the future.

That’s not even counting the likes of Alphonso Davies, who isn’t even at this camp. This is, I believe, the beginning of a passing-of-the-torch from old guard like Atiba Hutchinson to a new generation of exciting, skilled players.

Toronto FC II are also playing today, taking on the Charlotte Independence in North Carolina at 7 p.m. this evening. Keep an eye on the WTR homepage for more on that.

Team news: injuries & suspensions

Canada: Other than the players who weren’t invited to camp (namely the Vancouver Whitecaps, since they play this weekend, Junior Hoilett, and Lucas Cavallini), we know of two players who will miss out with injury: Atiba Hutchinson and Scott Arfield.

New Zealand: I don’t know of any injuries they’re dealing with, but I can tell you that three regulars — Tommy Smith, Kip Colvey, and Deklan Wynne — have stayed with Colorado for their game this weekend.

Pre-game reading

Canadian Men’s National Team calls up five Toronto FC players (Charlie O’Connor-Clarke)
Predicting Canada’s lineup against New Zealand (Benedict Rhodes)
David Wotherspoon excited to begin new chapter with Canadian national team (Mitchell Tierney)

How to watch

Match date/time: 11 a.m. EST, Saturday, March 24

Live stream: Most likely Canada Soccer’s YouTube channel, as well as directly on