If you’re a diehard supporter of the Canadian men’s team, your head must still be spinning from what was a crazy 2019 for the Reds.
There were a number highs for John Herdman’s side, most notably a historic win over the United States that meant Canada was on the cusp of qualifying for next summer’s Concacaf Nations League finals, and in a good spot to crack “the Hex” in qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
But there was also a number of low points, including the loss to Haiti at the Gold Cup that sent Canada crashing out of the tournament, and a disappointing 4-1 setback against the U.S. just weeks after beating them in Toronto.
We here at CanPL.ca want to celebrate the positives, and look back at what went right for Canada over the past 12 months.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the top three moments of 2019 from the Canadian men’s team.
The Canadian men’s team wiped away a history of more than three decades of futility against the United States, earning a comprehensive 2-0 win over the Americans in Concacaf Nations League in Toronto on Oct. 15.
Alphonso Davies and Lucas Cavallini were the goal-scoring heroes for Canada, who notched its first victory over the U.S. since April of 1985.
The Americans had gone 9-0-8 versus Canada since suffering a 2-0 defeat in Vancouver some 34 years ago. But a new chapter in the one-sided history of this rivalry was authored at BMO Field, with Davies, the young Bayern Munich star, leading the charge for what was easily the most dynamic and dangerous Canadian men’s team assembled in quite some time.
This was a statement game for Canada, the final result giving hope to legions of long-suffering soccer supporters that there is genuine hope for the future, after plenty of previous false dawns and one failed World Cup qualifying campaign after another.
“We made history tonight, but our job is not done. We play them again next month, so our focus is (on) if we can repeat what we did tonight again in November,” cautioned Davies, who stated his game-winner was the biggest goal of his career.
He later added: “It’s a statement for Canadian soccer, because we know we have good players on this team. … We showed it tonight.”
2) Jonathan David wins Golden Boot at Concacaf Gold Cup
A forward with speed and intelligent movement off the ball, David enjoyed a breakout year by scoring eight goals in nine appearances for Canada.
Six of those goals came at this summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup (a new team record) where he finished as the tournament’s top scorer and was named to the Gold Cup all-star team.
Still only 19, David began the Gold Cup with a bang, scoring a brace in Canada’s opening match of the group stage, a 4-0 win over Martinique at the Rose Bowl. After being kept off the score sheet by Mexico, David wrecked havoc in Canada’s group stage closer by recording a hat trick in a 7-0 whitewash of Cuba.
His final goal came when he opened the scoring against Haiti in the quarter-finals, a game that the Canadians went on to lose 3-2.
Despite the Reds’ premature Gold Cup exit, David had a hell of a tournament, announcing himself to the Concacaf region with his goal-scoring prowess and impressive showings for his country.
3) Reds trash Cuba 7-0 at Concacaf Gold Cup
Yeah, we know, it’s Cuba. We get it: Beating the lowly Island nation that routinely loses players to defection when the team plays abroad isn’t all that impressive – and you could argue that trashing teams such as Cuba is now expected of Canada.
Still, it’s not very often Canada scores seven goals in a single game, so you have to enjoy them when they come along.
The Reds showed no mercy in their group stage finale at the Gold Cup in Charlotte, with Jonathan David taking only three minutes to open the scoring. Any hope that Cuba harboured of getting the upset win (or even keeping things close) were extinguished by halftime, as Canada took a 4-0 lead into the break.
John Herdman’s side didn’t let up after the interval, with Junior Hoilett making it 5-0, and two goals later in the half coming from David made it a rout. Seven goals in 90 minutes and you had the feeling that had the game kept going the damage could have been far worse.
When all was said and done, both David and Lucas Cavallini netted hat tricks, helping Canada record its largest Gold Cup victory in team history.