CanMNT undone by relentless Dutch second half in friendly loss to begin Marsch era

Final Score: Netherlands 3-0 Canada
Goalscorers: Depay 50′, Frimpong 57′ Weghorst 63′, van Dijk 83′
International Friendly

The Jesse Marsch era officially began on Thursday for the Canadian men’s national team, who played the Netherlands in a friendly as both sides prepare for major international tournaments later this month. Despite an admirably hard-fought first half, Canada fell 4-0 to a Dutch side currently ranked seventh in the world, whose quality shone through in the latter 45 minutes.

Marsch opted for a 4-4-2 structure not dissimilar to some lineups Canada have played before, with Alphonso Davies wearing the captain’s armband at left-back behind Liam Millar in wide midfield, as Derek Cornelius and Moïse Bombito set up as centre-backs. Ronald Koeman, meanwhile, went with a traditional Dutch 4-3-3, as Memphis Depay and Jeremie Frimpong patrolled the wings.

Canada’s first half was about as good as they could’ve hoped, as they set up in a fairly narrow 4-4-2 defensive shape and looked to pick their moments to step forward and press. They had a very early chance to take a shock lead less than two minutes in, as Tajon Buchanan fed Jonathan David into the box, but David hesitated a little too long and ran out of room as it rolled out for a goal kick.

After a handful of strong attacking phases for Canada in the first few minutes, the Netherlands began to find their way into the match, as they took greater control of midfield and found more touches for Memphis Depay. The attacker, most recently of Atletico Madrid, dropped deeper from the frotn line in search of the ball and found them, although he struggled to find the right pass.

Both teams found several bright moments along the flanks. For Canada, Buchanan and David looked to target the slower-moving Daley Blind on the Dutch left side, although one result of that tactic was it left Micky van de Ven — recently clocked as the fastest defender in the English Premier League this year — in a one-on-one matchup with Alistair Johnston, who struggled to keep up with the Tottenham star.

Canada needed a few miraculous rescues to get to halftime at 0-0, as both Derek Cornelius and Cyle Larin blocked a shot on the line while Dayne St. Clair made some outrageous saves, including a one-on-one stop against Brian Bobbey on the counter.

Marsch made one change at halftime, bringing Jacob Shaffelburg on for Liam Millar to try and add some more explosiveness to the left side.

The positivity of a first-half clean sheet faded shortly after the break though, as Depay at last broke the deadlock. Jeremie Frimpong burst down the right side with pace and sent the cross in to the back post, where Depay was left unmarked to direct it into the goal. The second Dutch goal was just seven minutes later, as this time Frimpong himself dribbled into the box, cutting to send Alphonso Davies the wrong way. The Bayer Leverkusen fullback curled it from a difficult angle to find the far post and make it 2-0.

Less than a minute after Dutch manager Ronald Koeman first turned to his bench in the 62nd minute, one of his substitutes added another goal. St. Clair saved an initial shot with Canada’s defence set in the box, but he spilled the ball and Wout Weghorst was in place for a very easy finish.

Virgil van Dijk, another Dutch substitute, added the fourth goal as he rose above a challenging St. Clair to nod home a ball in the air.

Alphonso Davies with the ball vs. the Netherlands. (Photo: Canada Soccer)

Some positives for Canada in lopsided defeat

Ultimately, Canada left the match disappointed by the heavy 4-0 scoreline. They were seriously exposed in the second half and switched off defensively in a couple of key moments, but might not necessarily be throwing the full match tape out the window.

Although both players will show up negatively in the highlight reel, Derek Cornelius and Moïse Bombito offered a glimpse of what could be an effective pairing at centre-back going forward. Cornelius, the more effective of the two, made eight clearances (one of them off the goal line) and three interceptions. Dayne St. Clair, meanwhile, will probably want the third and fourth goals back — he arguably should’ve caught the initial attempt before Weghorst’s goal, and shouldn’t have stepped forward so far to challenge van Dijk — but he demonstrated his shot-stopping ability repeatedly with six saves.

Jacob Shaffelburg, meanwhile, made a very strong case to start against France. He was by far Canada’s most dangerous player in the second half, using his pace and ability to play vertically to cause serious problems for the Dutch right side — especially with Frimpong often so high up the pitch.

There’s not long for Canada to adjust things ahead of their test against the French on Sunday, but they may try to limit the ways the world’s second-ranked team. For one, the high defensive line Canada preferred in this game ended up being a source of vulnerability once the Netherlands found a way over the top via Frimpong. In a game against someone like Kylian Mbappé, that weakness could be even more of a problem, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Marsch adjust his offside trap.

Regardless, this was a level of competition that most of the Canadian players have never encountered before; taking on a side at this level, as well as one with the talent of France, will be fundamentally educational to this team as it builds a new identity.

Looking at the big picture, Canada are building toward the 2026 World Cup, where there will be more pressure to get results against top competition on home soil. That would be unreasonable to expect if they had no experience against such opponents, but they’ll have it in spades after this month.

Box Score


Netherlands: Verbruggen; Geertruida, de Ligt (van Dijk 70′), van de Ven; Frimpong (Bergwijn 62′), Gravenberch (Veerman 86′), Wijnaldum, Schouten, Blind (de Vrij 70′); Brobbey (Weghorst 62′), Depay (Malen 62′)

Canada: St. Clair; Johnston (Zator 56′), Bombito, Cornelius, Davies; Buchanan (Brym 56′), Eustáquio (Choinière 70′), Koné (Piette 78′), Millar (Shaffelburg 46′); David, Larin (Hoilett 70′)


50′ — Memphis Depay (Netherlands)
57′ — Jeremie Frimpong (Netherlands)
63′ — Wout Weghorst (Netherlands)
83′ — Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands)


41′ — Yellow: Moïse Bombito (Canada) Player of the Match

Jeremie Frimpong, Netherlands

The Bayer Leverkusen right-back is one of the hottest commodities in world football heading into the summer transfer window, and for good reason. Frimpong was outstanding on Thursday, assisting a goal and scoring one of his own, with two key passes and two interceptions as well.