Canada is one (multi-part) step away from qualifying for a FIFA World Cup – let that sink in for a moment before continuing.
The Canadian men’s national team qualified for the last stage in FIFA World Cup qualifying for the first time in over 20 years by dispatching Haiti 3-0, 4-0 on aggregate Tuesday in their second-round 2022 World Cup qualifying tie.
Canada largely dominated Tuesday’s second leg – played at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois as Canada’s “home” half of the tie – but needed a fluke goalkeeper error to break the seal and ease Canadians’ hearts back home.
Les Rouges arrived in Chicago with a 1-0 lead following the first leg in Port-au-Prince. Cyle Larin scored that game’s lone goal.
An early penalty shout from Jonathan David marked the best chance of an early 10-minute spell for Canada. Larin was caught offside on an open volley moments later.
Jonathan David and Alphonso Davies continued to combine well in the half-spaces and beyond, dipping and combining well. The combo led to a quality chance 23 minutes in: A Davies cut-back pass to David at the top of the box allowed the Lille OSC striker to dash to the near post and fire a close-range shot. David, back at that near post, had Canada’s best chance of the half by forcing three saves from Haitian ‘keeper Josue Duverger – all fired into his right shoulder – in quick succession.
Canada’s finishing woes continued when centre-back Henry sent an open diving header well wide of the frame. Fellow defender Steven Vitoria had an attempt headed off the line moments later to close out a promising first half.
The second half, well, started with nothing short of a gift for Canada. Montreal-born Duverger misplayed a backpass – twice – and allowed the ball to travel past the goal line and give the Canadians a rather spectacular insurance marker.
Oh no. ?
One of the worst concessions in goalkeeping history, and #CanMNT take a 1-0 lead over Haiti
Canada, then up two goals in the tie, found another gear in the attacking third. More attempts from Larin and David started sailing towards the net at a rapid pace. Larin finally put one away in 72 minutes after dropping a defender and opening up all alone on the ‘keeper.
Junior Hoilett added an entertaining third on the night, fourth in the tie in the 89th minute after smashing a shot off the post and burying the rebound.
Derrick Etienne earned Haiti’s best chance of the match at the hour mark when he fired a cross wide of the near post. That was one of four shots for Haiti that paled in comparison to Canada’s 18.
Other than that, Haiti failed to generate much of a challenge for Canada who now moves on to the eight-team final-round “Octagon,” where they’ll face the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Honduras, Panama, and El Salvador – the latter two joining as fellow second-round winners. Canada is slated to kick off that final round in September with a home tilt against Honduras.
46’ Josue Duverger – Own Goal (Canada) 74′ Cyle Larin (Canada)
89′ Junior Hoilett (Canada)
No rest for the wicked: John Herdman and co. will be back in action in less than a month with the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup slated for July 11 and a group stage opener against Martinique. Canada has been drawn against Martinique, the U.S., and a yet-to-be-determined preliminary round winner.
Herdman made one change to the squad that faced Haiti in Port-au-Prince, swapping wide player Richie Laryea for centreback Doniel Henry and moving Alistair Johnston into the wingback role occupied by Laryea.
Haiti was without several key players Tuesday night due to COVID-19 restrictions on travel from Port-au-Prince. Starting ‘keeper Johny Placide, objectively the side’s best player in the first leg, was chief among them.
Tuesday’s result, while massive, will serve as a small bit of consolation for Herdman’s side, which was eliminated from the 2019 Gold Cup by the Haitians in a come-from-behind quarterfinal.