On Monday, Canada will play Honduras in Les Rouges’ second game of CONCACAF Nations League play. The final two games will be played in March 2023. After Thursday night’s comfortable 4-0 win against Curacao, playing away at Honduras should provide a more difficult test for Canada.
Honduras holds the historical matchup advantage against Canada with 11 wins, eight losses and eight ties. However, Canada has fared better against Honduras in their five most recent matchups from 2016-2022 with one win, three draws and one loss. The current Canada squad is undeniably the most talented the program has ever had, as well as being the most tactically unified and most cohesive off the field.
The last time these two teams played each other was on January 27th, 2022 in World Cup Qualifying, where Canada came away with a 2-0 victory in Honduras. Despite the final score, Canada were out possessed by 18% and outshot by seven (each team had three shots on target). Still, Canada created the better scoring chances in the game and should have scored two or three more.
An early own goal 10 minutes in allowed Canada to set up in their comfortable defensive shape and trademark counter attacking style. Canada is at their best when they can patiently wait for turnovers and then create scoring chances from precise counter attacks. Honduras eventually put some pressure on Canada from crosses and set pieces that called Milan Borjan into action:
If Milan Borjan doesn’t make this save, we could be talking about a completely different game in #Honduras, and a completely different scenario ahead of tomorrow’s continental clash in the Hammer. #CanMNT #USMNT pic.twitter.com/feCHgFIogy— Footy Prime presented by @NorthStarBet (@footy_prime) January 29, 2022
That save eventually inspired Canada, and they went on to double their lead just four minutes later. A gorgeous long ball from Liam Fraser was perfectly controlled by Jonathan David, and the Lille forward finished it off with a beautiful chip over the Honduras goalkeeper. No words can really describe how beautiful this goal was:
OH MY, THAT WAS SPECIAL JONATHAN DAVID— Team Canada (@TeamCanada) January 28, 2022
Canada maintained the top spot of the @Concacaf Qualifiers, thanks in large part to @itsJoDavid’s brilliant goal
came away with the 2-0 win over Honduras
Full details ⚽️➡️ https://t.co/uJ43zA8xfcpic.twitter.com/BVvNlUidWw
Two things to look out for against Honduras:
1. Another strong starting XI and some potential squad rotation
John Herdman will likely field another strong starting XI as he looks to take all six possible points from the first two CONCACAF Nations League group stage games. Every match should be considered a prime opportunity to fine tune chemistry and tactics leading up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In the past four CANMNT games, Herdman has consistently deployed a 4-4-2 lineup. Although it is difficult to predict Herdman’s XIs, previous windows show a trend of typically rotating his CBs, one full-back and one CM. Given that Richie Laryea (ful-lback) only played as a substitute against Curacao, has not played much since making his move to Nottingham Forest this past January, and that he is a key member of this team, I would expect him to start tomorrow in place of Alistair Johnston.
Mark-Anthony Kaye (CM) is another key member of this team who did not play against Curacao and could likely start in place of Atiba Hutchinson, whose minutes need to be closely managed at 38-years-old. Herdman will also want to get Scott Kennedy (CB) and Doneil Henry (CB) game reps and has often used the two as a CB pairing in games following Steven Vitoria and Kamal Miller starts.
My prediction is the rest of the starting XI will remain unchanged from what we saw against Curacao. While I would love to see Ike Ugbo get his first start for the CANMNT, I still feel like Herdman will want to give more minutes to Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, Tajon Buchanan and Cyle Larin so they can rediscover their chemistry and re-establish the muscle memory to execute his tactics.
2. More precise passing
Despite the final score, Canada was certainly not at its best against Curacao. There were many misplaced passes, players over dribbling and not finding their teammates in open space or on overlapping runs, and occasional missed defensive assignments. This is normal for a team that has not played together since March 30th, 2022. On top of that, key players like Stephen Eustaquio and Richie Laryea have both not played much at their new clubs since moving in January 2022.
Of the things to improve, the misplaced passes should be the highest priority. Precise passing is key to executing Herdman’s tactics, especially on the counter attack. When Canada’s passing is at its best, the team can take advantage of the speed of Davies, Buchanan, David, Larin, Laryea and Sam Adekugbe. This leads to counter attacks where Canada often outnumbers the opposition and can lead to prime scoring opportunities.
Canada has had its issues playing in humid and hostile away environments, having only won two out of seven away matches in the 2022 CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying games. They also struggled with their passing last time out at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano. The pitch surface was noticeably uneven and the humid weather seemed to wear down the players.
Expect the same this Monday, as the humidity is expected to be eight percent higher than when Canada last played there. Honduras will be out for revenge after losing 2-1 to Curacao and losing 2-0 to Canada in the last matchup. Hopefully, the training in between matches and shaking off some of the rust against Curacao will lead to a more tidy performance against Honduras.
WHAT: Canada vs. Honduras
WHERE: Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano | San Pedro Sula, Honduras
WHEN: Monday, June 13th 10:00 pm ET | 7:00 pm PT
CAN TV: Broadcast on OneSoccer. Please do not discuss or share links to illegal streams here.