Having already booked their place in the quarter-finals, Canada faces the United States in matchday three of the Gold Cup group stage to determine who will advance as group winners.
A pair of 4-1 wins against Martinique and Haiti respectively proved to be enough for The Reds to qualify to the next round with a game to spare. The 2021 Gold Cup thus becomes the first edition of the tournament where the Canadian men’s national team has qualified to the last eight with one match remaining.
Les Rouges will once again play at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, which has been quite the happy hunting ground for Canada so far. Kickoff is set for 5:00 pm EST with the game available to stream on OneSoccer.
Thursday’s 4-1 win against Haiti ensured The Reds not only sealed their place in the last eight, but it also confirmed that Canada would come into their clash with the US ahead of their Southern neighbours on goals scored.
Daryl Dike and the US ran riot against Martinique as they thumped the island nation 6-1 to dump them out of qualifying contention. The five-goal win saw the US move level on points and goal difference with Canada, but Les Rouges have scored one more goal than Gregg Berhalter’s side, who must now win on Sunday to finish top of the group.
If Herdman’s squad claims victory or plays out a draw against the US, The Reds will win the group and face the runner-up of Group C in the last eight. Regardless if Canada finishes top or not, they look set to face either Jamaica or Costa Rica on July 25th.
Against Haiti, Herdman made just two changes to the side that beat Martinique, as Lucas Cavallini and Doneil Henry replaced Junior Hoilett and Richie Laryea in the starting lineup. Cyle Larin’s brace meant that he became Canada’s top scorer in a single calendar year with nine total strikes. The Beşiktaş forward has also moved up to fourth in the men’s national team’s all-time top scoring list. Larin is now just five goals away from passing Dwayne De Rosario and his 22 international goals.
The big question ahead of Sunday’s clash is whether Herdman goes for a full strength lineup, or if he rests certain players since The Reds are already through to the next round. Toronto FC fans were ecstatic to see Ayo Akinola make his debut for Canada, with many hoping the 21-year-old forward will see some more time on the field against the US.
Stephen Eustáquio will not play on Sunday after he picked up a second yellow card of the tournament against Haiti. After six bookings against Martinique, Eustáquio was the only player to be shown a yellow on Thursday. Despite that, the other five who were cautioned against Martinique (Alistair Johnston, Steven Vitória, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Liam Fraser and Lucas Cavallini) are still at risk of missing Canada’s quarter-final tie if they get booked on Sunday.
The history of Canada vs. USA dates back to 1885 where The Reds recorded a 1-0 friendly victory in the two countries’ first ever meeting. In total, 38 matches have been played between Les Rouges and The Stars & Stripes, with Canada winning 11 of them.
Their last meeting, which took place in November 2019, finished in a 4-1 US victory during the CONCACAF Nations League group stage. In the match before that, Canada recorded a memorable 2-0 Nations League win at BMO Field, which was the first time The Reds had beaten the US since May 1990.
Canada’s last Gold Cup clash with the US was back in 2011, where goals from Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore sealed a 2-0 American win during the group stage.
The Reds have lost all four of their Gold Cup games against their adversary from down South, but this young, thrilling Canadian side will have their sights set on rewriting the narrative that has long favoured the USMNT over the years.
A place in the quarter-finals may already be secured, but there’s no denying that Canada will be gunning for glory against their bitter CONCACAF rivals.