Horror movies kind of go like this: Someone is told not to go into the woods … or pull out the ouija board … or to feed pets after midnight.
These people are instructed exactly what not to do, but do it anyway – and then they probably meet a terrible fate.
So, let’s go back to John Herdman’s pre-Canada/Haiti press availability. The Canadian men’s national team coach talked about how Haiti liked to hit on the counter. He talked about how Canada had to keep focused on the task at hand.
He knew about the monster in Canada’s closet. Yet the monster claimed its victim all the same.
In Saturday’s stunning 3-2 loss to Haiti, the Canadian team’s disastrous second half saw Les Rouges toss away a two-goal lead. Herdman’s men were killed by exactly the things they were warned about; quick counters, pressure, and losing physical one-on-one battles – all, really, the consequence of losing concentration at key times.
The fingers will be pointed at Canada’s two fullbacks. An unforced error in the form of an exceptionally soft back pass from Marcus Godinho allowed Duckens Nazon to make it 2-1.
Godinho’s terrible day continued after his foul opened the door for Herve Bazile’s penalty-kick equalizer. Godinho’s failed challenge (“never leave your feet in the box in CONCACAF” — how many times have we heard that?) came after the Canadian backline couldn’t deal with a simple direct ball. Haiti got the better of the initial physical battle, and Canada was out of sorts.
But, let’s get back to the notion that Canada was depending on Godinho, who only played a total of 971 minutes in the Scottish Premier League this season. Because of injury, Godinho’s 2018-19 campaign was abbreviated.
The left side was exposed on the winner, as Wilde-Donald Guerrier got goal and ball side of Canadian phenom Alphonso Davies, and deposited the ball across the line for the winner. Davies kicking the goalpost in disgust might be an image that’s burned in the heads of Canadian soccer supporters for a long time.
Guerrier, the player whose wages are paid by Qarabag of the Azerbaijan Premier League, beat the poster-boy of Canadian soccer, the multimillion-dollar Bayern Munich signing.
The question, though, is simple: Is Davies the right choice to be a left back? Or should he be in a the more advanced position to which we’ve grown accustomed. And, while Davies’s potential is so, so, very high, we have to remember that Canada has put a teenager in a position that can’t afford a single lapse in concentration.
Herdman knew going into this one that he didn’t have a lot of fullbacks who had put in full seasons at his disposal. Basically, he knew going in what could be Canada’s fatal flaw going forward. Yet, that’s how this team met its end.
And, sure, we all love the modern fullback, the player who is as effective in attack as he is in defence. But, when a team gets two goals up, you’d love to have options that might have been better suited to not be two-way players, but defenders who could handle the tempo and physical dominance of Haiti’s attackers.
The one thing we can take from this: Almost all good horror movies get sequels. Lots of sequels. With CONCACAF Nations League group play, including two matches against the United States, to come, the Canadians can get on with the program without having to stew too long. And, then, World Cup qualifying.
But, on this Sunday – the day of the week so often marked by a beloved character meeting his or her grisly end in The Walking Dead – Canadian fans will take some time to deal with the shock and mourn this loss before picking themselves back up, cleaning off the gunk, and carrying on forward.