PREVIEW: Canada open Concacaf Gold Cup at BMO Field vs. Guadeloupe

2023 Concacaf Gold Cup Group D
Canada vs. Guadeloupe
Tuesday, June 27 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT
BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario
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Just over a week after the Nations League final, the Canadian men’s national team is back on home soil on Tuesday to kick off another tournament with another opportunity for a trophy. The Concacaf Gold Cup will have a match in Canada for the first time in eight years, when Les Rouges take on Guadeloupe to open their Group D campaign.

Toronto’s BMO Field will host its third ever Gold Cup match this week and it’s a big one for John Herdman’s Canada squad, who will be eager to put their defeat in the Concacaf Nations League final behind them. Fourteen players from the group that lost down in Las Vegas have remained with the team for the Gold Cup, with a further nine new faces joining them in their latest quest to win some regional silverware.

By virtue of Canada’s fourth-place position in the Concacaf rankings, they were a Pot 1 seed for this year’s Gold Cup and, therefore, have been dealt a group stage draw they’ll be fairly happy with. Standing in the way of a fourth straight quarter-final appearance will be Group D foes Guatemala, Cuba, and — in their first match on Tuesday night — Guadeloupe.

A small island chain of about 383,000 people in the Caribbean, Guadeloupe has a men’s national team that sits 19th in the Concacaf rankings. Because it’s technically an overseas territory of France and its football governing body is an affiliate of the Fédération Française de Football, the Guadeloupean national teams don’t have a FIFA ranking — and, therefore, won’t affect Canada’s ranking regardless of result.

RELATED: Concacaf Gold Cup an opportunity for Victor Loturi’s CanMNT breakout

Still, this plucky team will by no means be a pushover. This will be their fifth appearance at the Gold Cup, having gone on a run all the way to the semifinals (beating Canada in the group stage) in 2007. This time around, Guadeloupe qualified via the preliminary rounds, defeating Antigua and Barbuda followed by Guyana to punch their ticket.

Guadeloupe’s current head coach, Jocelyn Angloma, scored for them in that win over Canada in 2007. The former defender won the UEFA Champions League with Marseille in 1993 and also spent time with clubs like Inter Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Valencia in an impressive European career before returning to his birth nation, where he’s managed the national team since 2017.

In the current squad for Guadeloupe are a number of talented players currently plying their trade across Europe. Defender Andrew Gravillon, who scored against Guyana to help put Guadeloupe in this group, plays for Italian Serie A side Torino but has spent the past two years on loan in France’s Ligue 1. They’ve also got six players in the French second division, plus Nathanaël Saintini and Anthony Baron in the Swiss top flight and former Manchester City academy prospect Thierry Ambrose in Belgium.

Canada, meanwhile, have plenty of motivation to perform at this Gold Cup in an effort to return to the semifinal, where they were defeated by Mexico last time out in 2021.

RELATED: CanMNT announces final 23-man squad for Concacaf Gold Cup

It’s by no means a full-strength group for Herdman to pick from, of course, with high-profile stars like Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David and Stephen Eustáquio not in the mix this time. Still, it’s a chance for Canada to test their depth in high-stakes environments, and perhaps see how some young players could factor into future plans beyond this tournament.

Seven players in Canada’s squad have yet to make their debut for the senior national team — including former Canadian Premier League standouts Victor Loturi and Dominick Zator — and it feels like a near-guarantee that several of them factor in at positions of need. Loturi and Vancouver Whitecaps youngster Ali Ahmed could be given an opportunity soon in midfield, and at least one or two of Zator, Moïse Bombito and Zach McGraw could be in line for a first appearance at centre-back.

One question surrounding this particular group for Canada: Who’s going to score the goals? The forward group features a couple of veterans in Junior Hoilett and Lucas Cavallini, who seem likely to lead the line to begin with, but it’ll be fascinating to see where Herdman turns beyond them. Columbus Crew striker Jacen Russell-Rowe has been impressive in MLS, as has Nashville SC’s Jacob Shaffelburg. Charles-Andreas Brym scored 11 goals in the Dutch second tier for FC Eindhoven, and Liam Millar was a creative sparkplug in the Swiss Super League with FC Basel.

So, Herdman has options, but not many players with recent track record with the national team. His attacking setup throughout this tournament will be an interesting series of experiments, in all likelihood.

This Gold Cup will not exactly be a showcase of the Canadian men’s national team we’ve come to know over the past few years. It might, however, offer a glimpse of some faces who could become household names on the road to 2026.

In its own way, that may be just as exciting.

Victor Loturi with fans at BMO Field (Martin Bazyl/Canada Soccer)


Canada: St. Clair; Kennedy, Vitória, Miller; Laryea, Osorio, Loturi, Shaffelburg; Hoilett, Cavallini, Millar

Guadeloupe: Rouyard; Alphonse, Lina, Avinel, Baron; Solvet, Gravillon, Plumain, Leborgne, Phaeton; Ambrose


Canada wins: 2 || Guadeloupe wins: 1 || Draws: 0

Previous meeting:

June 11, 2011 — Canada 2-1 Guadeloupe


Referee: Rubiel Vazquez (USA)
ARs: Corey Parker (USA), Kyle Atkins (USA)
4th Official: Keylor Herrera (Costa Rica)
VAR: Jorge Perez (Mexico)