It doesn’t hurt to start a new era for the Canadian men’s national team by making a bit of history. Canada defeated the US Virgin Islands 8-0 in John Herdman’s first competitive fixture in charge of the team.
The result was the biggest win in the program’s history, the previous being a 7-0 win over St.Lucia in 2011. It puts Canada into second in the Concacaf Nations League qualifying standings (Cuba beat Turks and Caicos 11-0). The top six teams qualify for the top division of Concacaf Nations League as well as the 2019 Gold Cup.
Cyle Larin, Jonathan David and Lucas Cavallini all scored twice for Canada, while Junior Hoilett and Jonathan Osorio added one each. Canada’s next match is October 15 at home to Dominica, they round out nations league play away to St. Kitts and Nevis in November and at home to French Guiana in March.
Here are some thoughts on the match:
Jonathan David shines in debut
It doesn’t matter what kit he is wearing, 18-year-old David can’t stop scoring. In his first ever start for the senior men’s national team, David found the back of the net twice. The forward, who plays his club football for Gent in the Belgian top division, also added an assist.
David became the youngest player to score a brace for Canada in a match. He was composed on the ball throughout and did very well to combine with other Canadian men’s national team attackers. He clicked particularly well with Junior Hoilett, who assisted on both of his goals with David returning the favour on Hoilett’s goal.
David played 61 minutes in the match before being replaced by Marcel de Jong. He appears to be well entrenched in the battle to get starting minutes for Canada in attack.
Jonathan Osorio set the tempo for Canada
Another Jonathan who can’t stop scoring, Toronto FC’s Osorio, got Canada on the board just six minutes into the match. He was also central to the goal Lucas Cavallini scored a minute later. The first few are often the most difficult to score in matches like this, so getting Canada going early was crucial.
It was a positive to see Osorio continually making attacking runs into the box with and without the ball in the match. He was also a central piece in the Canadian attack, dictating play all over the field.
How quickly Canada was able to move the ball was a big issue for the US Virgin Islands backline, and Osorio was often central to those movements. It was another positive sign that he has embraced his role as a crucial figure in this team going forward.
Fortune favours the bold
Right from the moment the team sheets were released before the match, it was pretty clear Canada was going for the aggressive approach in this match. Herdman started only two natural defenders, Doneil Henry and Derek Cornelius.
Samuel Piette played as a deep-lying midfielder in front of those two, but most of his duties were offensive as he was crucial in restarting and recycling attacks for Canada. It was an ambitious setup brought on partially by the fact that US Virgin Islands asked for the pitch to be narrowed to the minimum amount allowed prior to the match.
It worked perfectly, however, as Canada were never really threatened defensively. When they were, the speed of Alphonso Davies in getting back meant that the numbers usually remained on Canada’s side.
Alphonso Davies outstanding at both ends
Speaking of Davies, this was yet another strong performance from him in the red and white. Especially once USVI started to tire towards the end of the match he was lethal down the wing.
If Larin starts to score again consistently for Canada, we can credit Davies for getting him jump-started. The 17-year-old set up the Besiktas man twice late in the match, both from precise crosses from the left.
As aforementioned, his ability to get back defensively, well ingrained now by Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson, was also big. Several attempted U.S. Virgin Islands counter attackers were cut out by the youngster.
Regardless of opponent, a strong offensive display
Yes, everything Canada did today will come with a massive asterisk in terms of the team they played against. The U.S. Virgin Islands are very close to the bottom of the FIFA rankings and have had many losses to this tune before.
However, there were some promising signs going forward, not the least of which included the fact that all three of Canada’s main strikers bagged a brace. After all, a parked bus is a parked bus and Canada was still able to get through by using their wide talent.
When USVI got caught too far up the pitch, Canada made them pay for it with a lethal counter-attack. The road is only going to get more difficult from here, but the framework and work rate were positive for Canada on the day.