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5 thoughts on Canada’s strong start to 2022 World Cup qualifying

A good start, a long way still to go following Thursday’s 5-1 win over Bermuda

Jeremy Reper/Canada Soccer

Canada is off and running in 2022 World Cup qualifying with a 5-1 win over Bermuda, a match they dominated from start to finish. In his return to the national team, Cyle Larin had a hattrick while Alphonso Davies looked every bit his dominant self, gliding past defenders with ease and setting up three goals.

The match also saw some memorable debuts, a couple of first international goals and, unfortunately, a pretty ugly Milan Borjan error that led to Bermuda’s lone tally.

Here are some thoughts on the match, and what it means for the national team going forward.

Canada’s striker situation is getting interesting

This was a very different Cyle Larin than most Canadian men’s national team fans will remember from the last time he pulled on the shirt. Playing a bit wider, as he has with Besiktas this season, he combined immediately and effectively with Alphonso Davies.

Larin looked goal dangerous from the opening minute and settled Canada down quickly with a pair of first-half goals, later turning that into a hattrick. He also showed great commitment during the match, hurrying back in multiple situations to break up counter-attacks and showing off some strong playmaking as well.

While Larin was thriving, the man alongside him, Lucas Cavallini, had a night to forget. One of Canada’s most productive players in recent years, he had a couple of shocking misses. To be fair to him, he hasn’t played in a competitive match since November 8, while Larin has been in the form of his career of late.

Evidently, a game against Bermuda isn’t going to change anything in the national team striker hierarchy. Canada was also missing clear starter Jonathan David. But in a year where camps won’t be as long or as extensive today was a clear sign that John Herdman has options, and should probably go with the option that is in form with club.

Jeremy Reper / Canada Soccer

Richie Laryea picking up where he left off

What was once a problem position for Canada looks to be settled to start this World Cup qualifying campaign. Richie Laryea’s meteoric rise doesn’t look to be stopping any time soon which will be welcome news for both national team and Toronto FC supporters.

His confidence both off and on the ball was evident throughout as he combined incredibly well with Atiba Hutchinson and Junior Hoilett down the right side. He also scored his first international goal, which somewhat inexplicably came from the left wing. Regardless of questions as to why he is was in that position in the first place, the finish was brilliant.

On the other flank, Sam Adekugbe had an assist on Laryea’s goal and looks like a strong option at left-back going forward. With Cristian Guiterrez, Zachary Brault-Guillard and Alistair Johnston among others waiting in the wings, Canada looks to be a solid spot for years to come.

Theo Corbeanu impresses in his national team debut

The senior men’s national team has seen some pretty impressive debuts from young players in recent years. Davies scored a pair of goals on his competitive debut for the national team as a 16-year-old against French Guiana. Jonathan David also had a brace in his first game with the senior team.

Coming off the bench in the 77th minute, Theo Corbeanu instantly made it clear he wanted to join that list. He found the back of the net just three minutes later, capping off a smart run into the box by finishing a Liam Millar cross. He didn’t stop there, looking confident and threatening for the rest of the match.

Many were surprised that the Wolves academy player was called up to the senior national team instead of the Olympic side. But in limited minutes he showed that he is ready for this level. Waking the Red is most definitely joining in the growing chorus asking for him to start against the Cayman Islands on Sunday.

Jeremy Reper / Canada Soccer

How great was it seeing Atiba back?

That’s all the analysis needed.

But seriously, it just looked right seeing him out there with the armband. He and Stephen Eustaquio absolutely bossed the midfield and look like they could be an excellent partnership going forward.

We won’t see it against the Cayman Islands, however, as the 38-year-old has returned to Turkey as part of a previously arranged deal. But job done for him, certainly, as he moves to second all-time in Canada caps.

“1 down, 19 to go”

Another classic quote from Canadian coach John Herdman. Canada is clearly taking this process one game at a time, but are also understanding that even with a good performance like this they haven’t accomplished anything yet.

This incredibly tricky qualifying process is going to take maximum concentration and commitment to not slip up prior to the Octagonal stage where they will have a little more room to breathe. This is just the start, but it was a good one. Two of nineteen comes Sunday against the Cayman Islands.