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Canada Men’s National Team: Five Things I’m Excited for in 2022

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Happy New Year Everyone! With the start of a new calendar year, I’d like to quickly list five things to be excited for the CanMNT in 2022.

Sean Pollock l Waking The Red

After finishing off 2021 as leaders in the 2022 CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying table, there is a lot to look forward to for the CanMNT in 2022. Below are five things I’m excited for this year:

Canada vs. United States on January 30th at Tim Hortons Field, Hamilton, Ontario

The CanMNT’s first home game of 2022 will be played at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario! This represents the first time the CanMNT will have ever played in Hamilton as Herdman continues his cross country tour to unite fans across the nation and raise the excitement for men’s soccer to entirely new levels. If Canada is able to beat Honduras on January 27th, a victory against the Americans would then create at least a four point gap between them and could be decisive in helping them achieve their goal of 2022 World Cup qualification.

Breaking more CanMNT records

2021 was a historical year for CanMNT soccer with three broken records: Atiba Hutchinson set a new CanMNT appearance record against Mexico, Junior Hoilett broke the record for all-time assists with 14 and Cyle Larin broke the record for most goals (14) in a calendar year. The expectation is that even more records will be broken in 2022. Larin is currently tied with Dwayne De Rosario atop the CanMNT goal scoring table with 22, while Jonathan David is not far behind with 18. If Canada are able to qualify for the 2022 World Cup and even get a single point in the competition, it would mark their first ever point in the tournament.

New potential CanMNT debuts

With Ike Ugbo’s debut with the CanMNT in November 2021, I’m excited to see even more Canadians potentially be handed their debuts in 2022. The Canadian talent pool continues to grow and I’m hopeful that young, promising players like Theo Corbeanu, Daniel Jebbison, Harry Paton etc. will have the same chance as Ugbo to represent their country. There could even be more surprises with dual eligible players like Marcelo Flores, Stefan Mitrovic, Martin Amuz, Sondre Solholm etc. (and potentially even more surprise unknown dual eligible players) deciding to declare for Canada given how our global reputation has grown in 2021 and as we continue our ascent in the FIFA World Rankings. There are certainly some interesting prospects born in 2002 or later embedded in the tweet below:

Securing 2022 World Cup qualification for the first time in 36 years

The CanMNT’s first and only appearance in the World Cup was in 1986 in Mexico where they qualified for the sole CONCACAF spot available outside of the one given to the host country. Canada outlasted 17 other countries for that final spot, defeating Honduras 2-1 in a temporary stadium set up in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Now, 36 years later Canada is in its best position since then to finally qualify for the World Cup again.

Three automatic World Cup spots are awarded to CONCACAF with the fourth place team entering a knockout playoff format against the Oceania Football Confederation. With the top four teams in the CONCACAF table only separated by two points, securing that automatic spot may not be decided until the final round of games, making for an exhilarating and suspenseful experience. Qualifying as one of the 32 World Cup teams would be a monumental achievement for the CanMNT program especially before the format will expand to 48 teams starting in 2026.

New 2022 Nike World Cup Kits being released in August/September

According to Footy Headlines, the new 2022 World Cup kits will start releasing in May with Puma, followed by releases from Nike and Adidas expected in August or September. There is certainly nothing wrong with the current CanMNT kits, but they are relatively bland and look like templated shirts that Nike just placed the Canada Soccer logo onto. Nike has shown they are capable of making aesthetically appealing, unique shirts (see the Club America 2021 Third Jersey or the AIK 130th Anniversary Jersey for reference), so I’m hopeful that Nike puts some actual thought and effort into the new design given that it could be the CanMNT’s first time qualifying for the tournament since 1986. An interesting idea could be to remake the 1986 Canada shirt in some way to honour our history!

What things are you most excited for in 2022 for the CanMNT?