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CanMNT Preview: Canada look to maintain perfect WCQ start against Aruba

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Based on their opening two fixtures, Canada should cruise to a comfortable victory.

Soccer: CONCACAF Gold Cup-Canada at Cuba Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Canadian men’s national team are back in World Cup Qualifying action and will take on already-eliminated Aruba in their third game of the first round. Kickoff is set for 8:00 p.m EST on Saturday, June 5 at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The match will be available to stream on OneSoccer.

Canada’s opening two wins against Bermuda and the Cayman Islands have put the Reds in a great position with regards to qualification from Group B. A third win from three will move John Herdman’s squad within touching distance of the second round, as well as set up an exciting final clash with Suriname to determine who moves forward to the next set of qualifiers.

If Canada progress, they will play a two-legged affair against the winner of Group E, which as of now, could be either Nicaragua, Belize or Haiti.

As it stands, Canada are ahead of Suriname in Group B on goal difference, which is largely due to the Reds’ 11-0 drubbing of the Cayman Islands back in March.

After their opening three matches, Aruba have notched up three points from a possible nine, with their first win coming in their most recent game on Wednesday, June 2 against the Cayman Islands (3-1). Before that, the Arubans suffered 6-0 and 5-0 defeats to Suriname and Bermuda respectively. Now, they come up against group leaders Canada having already been eliminated from qualifying contention, with pride the only thing left for the island nation to play for.

Given the Reds’ ruthlessness in front of goal so far, Aruba could fall victim to their third crushing loss of this qualifying campaign.

Herdman announced his squad on Saturday, May 30, a group which includes multiple title winners from across Europe such as Alphonso Davies (Bundesliga), Jonathan David (Ligue 1) and Cyle Larin (Süper Lig).

The three Canadian MLS clubs are also well represented in Herdman’s squad, as five players (Richie Laryea, Jonathan Osorio, Lucas Cavallini, Samuel Piette and James Pantemis) from those sides are a part of the initial 24-man list (six if you include Toronto FC loanee Liam Fraser, who is spending the 2021 season with Columbus Crew). An additional 11 players were also called up to serve as extras during training. Nine of the 11 are from Canadian MLS teams, while six of those nine are Toronto FC players.

There is quite the mix of both experience and youth in Canada’s camp, with four of the 24 selected players having never made an appearance for the senior national team. One potential debutant is Tajon Buchanan, who impressed earlier this year with the U23s during Olympic qualifying.

In terms of veterans, Piette and Milan Borjan are the only two players in the squad who have played at least 50 times for Canada.

With 16 goals in two games, Canada will have eyes on steering further ahead of Suriname on goal difference, especially if the group’s second place team records victory over Bermuda to remain level on points with the Reds. Larin and Cavallini have both had their shooting boots on thus far following hat-tricks against Bermuda and the Cayman Islands respectively. Will another Canadian take home the match ball against Aruba?

Larin is not only Canada’s top scorer during qualifying, but also the first round’s top scorer with four strikes in two games. Despite having yet to play a formidable opponent, Canada has already scored more goals during this World Cup Qualifying run (16) than the entirety of their previous campaign for Russia 2018 (15).

Saturday’s game will be Canada’s first ever meeting with Aruba. The island country is currently 205th in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, while Canada currently sits 135 places above them in 70th. In their last 15 games, Aruba has won two, drawn one and lost 12. Canada on the other hand has won 11 of their last 15.

With Herdman’s men clear favourites on Saturday, fans will be hopeful for another WCQ goal fest to kick off an international soccer-filled summer.