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Preview: Canada hosts Mexico in a mouth-watering affair at Commonwealth Stadium

Les Rouges are the only unbeaten team left in the Octagon.

Canada v Costa Rica -World Cup Qualifier Photo by Dale Macmillan/Soccrates/Getty Images

Following another significant night for the Canadian men’s national team on Friday, John Herdman’s men will conclude a historic 2021 when they welcome Mexico to Edmonton.

Depending on the USA’s result against Jamaica, Les Rouges could go top of the table with a win.

Kickoff at Commonwealth Stadium is set for 9:05 pm EST with the game available to watch live on OneSoccer and Sportsnet.

Jonathan David’s lone goal against Costa Rica earned Canada their third victory of the Octagon and ensured they remained in the top three following Panama’s 3-2 win over Honduras.

With 11 goals scored and just four conceded, Les Rouges are now the team to beat, and with Mexico up next, Canada will firmly have their sights set on further establishing themselves as one of CONCACAF’s finest on a cold, windy, Tuesday night in Edmonton.

El Tri lost their first game of the Octagon on Friday, falling 2-0 to the United States in Cincinnati. Late goals from Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic meant the US went top of the table on goal difference.

Canada are just one point behind of the top two, which means a win or a draw (if the US loses to Jamaica) against Mexico would see Les Rouges move up from third.

2021 has already been momentous for so many reasons, but a long-awaited win over Mexico would arguably be the match that defines the success of the men’s national team program this year.

In terms of team news, Herdman has a fully fit squad at his disposal following no injuries against Costa Rica. Ike Ugbo made his senior international debut for Canada off the bench and could play a more prominent role on Tuesday.

Ugbo wasn’t the only memorable substitute on Friday as Atiba Hutchinson was brought on for his 89th national team appearance, making him the joint-most capped player in the program’s history alongside Julian de Guzman. A start or an appearance off the bench against Mexico would see him earn the title as Canada’s new record appearance holder, a feat that many predicted Hutchinson would achieve in 2021.

Mexico will be without defender Hector Moreno due to injury, but Nestor Araujo is back in the fold after serving a one match ban following his red card against El Salvador in October.

Tuesday’s clash will mark the start of the second half of fixtures in the Octagon, and Canadian fans will still have last month’s result over Mexico fresh in their minds. Jonathan Osorio scored the equalizing goal as Canada earned a priceless point on a memorable night at the Estadio Azteca.

The draw may have been one to savour, but Canada has still not recorded a win over Mexico since the quarterfinals of the 2000 Gold Cup, where two goals in the final 10 minutes from Carlo Corazzin and Richard Hastings sent Canada through to the last four via a 2-1 victory.

Pressure ahead of this one will arguably be on Mexico following their loss to the US. With manager Tata Martino already feeling the heat after Friday, a defeat to Canada is the last thing the Mexican Football Federation would want in El Tri’s final game of 2021.

The wind is firmly in Canada’s sail, and with upwards of 50,000 people set to be in attendance at Commonwealth Stadium, Les Rouges can expect another electric atmosphere in their bid to end the year on the highest of highs.

Predicted Lineups:

Canada: Borjan; Johnston, Vitória, Miller; Laryea, Eustáquio, Kaye, Buchanan; Osorio; David, Davies

Mexico: Ochoa; L. Rodríguez, Araujo, Vásquez, Gallardo; C. Rodríguez, Álvarez, Herrera; Corona, Jiménez, Lozano