Five Things To Know About: Canada

Presented By Thorne

The U.S. Men’s National Team visits Canada in the second match of its 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League campaign on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at BMO Field in Toronto (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN2, UniMás, TUDN).

Before the match, learn five things about les Rouges.

Footballing History

The Canadian Soccer Association was founded in 1912 – just one year before U.S. Soccer – but didn’t play its first full internationals 12 years later in a six-game tour of Australia in 1924.

The Canadian men achieved their greatest success when they qualified for the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, following an undefeated run through qualifying which saw them win the 1985 Concacaf Championship. Les Rouges performed admirably in their first World Cup appearance, falling 1-0 to France before matching 2-0 defeats to Hungary and the Soviet Union saw them exit the tournament.

The team’s most recent success came in 2000 when they went on a Cinderella run to lift that year’s Concacaf Gold Cup. With that title, Canada is the only nation other than the United States and Mexico to win the confederation championship since it was launched back in 1991. 

Here and Now

While Canada has achieved some success through the years, more recently the nation has underachieved at times – specifically in World Cup qualification where les Rouges have failed to make Concacaf’s final round since 1997.

Under the direction of former Women’s National Team head coach John Herdmen and with an exciting new generation of young players elevating through the ranks, Canada is on the front foot with hopes of returning to the Hex in 2020.

The positive signs are there. Since the start of the 2022 World Cup cycle last fall, Canada has gone 6-2-0 in its eight matches. Notably, Herdmen’s side finished second among 34 teams in Concacaf Nations League qualifying this spring and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

Canada opened Nations League group play with two wins against Cuba last month – earning a dominant 6-0 triumph in Toronto on Sept. 7, before a 1-0 shutout in Georgetown, Cayman Islands on Sept. 10.

2019-20 Concacaf Nations League A, Group A

The Nations League equation and what it could mean for Canada’s future is only half-way done. With Concacaf’s top six ranked teams come June 2020 advancing straight to the Hex, and Nations League matches weighted more heavily than friendlies, No. 7-ranked Canada knows it will need results against the United States in its next two matches to have any hope of returning to the Hex for the first time in six cycles.

History with the USMNT

The USMNT series with Canada dates back 94 years to when the teams first met on June 27, 1925 in Montreal – a 1-0 win for Canada. The USA overturned that result with a 6-1 victory that November in Brooklyn, N.Y. and has gone on to earn a healthy 14-8-11 all-time advantage against les Rouges.

This month’s visit to Canada will mark the team’s first in a competitive match since a 3-0 victory on Nov. 9, 1997 in Vancouver which clinched qualification to the 1998 FIFA World Cup. The game will also be the USMNT’s second at BMO Field after the teams played to a 0-0 draw in Canada’s Centennial match on June 3, 2012.

USMNT Starting XI from the 6-1 win against Canada on Nov. 8, 1925 in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Current Roster

Canada head coach John Herdmen named a 22-player roster for les Rouges’ match on Oct. 15 against the United States.

Nine players on the roster currently feature in Major League Soccer and three MLS clubs have players on both sides of the anticipated matchup. The USMNT’s Toronto FC  captain Michael Bradley will have the chance to face off with club teammates Richie Laryea and Jonathan Osorio.

Daniel Lovitz will also have the opportunity to line up against Montreal Impact teammate Samuel Piette, while Walker Zimmerman and Mark-Anthony Kaye will be familiar with each other from their time at LAFC. 

Canada also features a host of dangerous young attackers, led by Vancouver Whitecaps’ alum and current Bayern Munich striker Alphonso Davies, Lucas Cavallini of Liga MX side Puebla and Belgian-based Jonathan David. 

GOALKEEPERS (3): Milan Borjan (Red Star Belgrade/SRB; 47/0), Maxime Crépeau (Vancouver Whitecaps FC; 2/0), Jayson Leutwiler (Blackburn Rovers/ENG; 3/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Samuel Adekugbe (Vålerenga/NOR; 9/0), Juan Córdova (Huachipato/CHI; 2/0), Derek Cornelius (Vancouver Whitecaps FC; 10/0), Amer Didić (FC Edmonton; 0/0), Richie Laryea (Toronto FC; 2/0), Kamal Miller (Orlando City SC/USA; 2/0), Steven Vitória (Moreirense/POR; 12/1)

MIDFIELDERS (7):
Scott Arfield (Rangers/SCO; 17/2) Stephen Eustáquio (Cruz Azul/MEX; 0/0), Will Johnson (Orlando City SC/USA; 45/4) Mark-Anthony Kaye (LAFC/USA; 12/0), Jonathan Osorio (Toronto FC/CAN; 29/4), Samuel Piette (Montreal Impact/CAN; 44/0), Russell Teibert (Vancouver Whitecaps FC/CAN; 25/1)

FORWARDS (5): Lucas Cavallini (Puebla/MEX; 15/10), Jonathan David (Gent/BEL; 10/11), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich/GER; 16/4), Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City/WAL; 26/9), Liam Miller (Kilmarnock/SCO; 8/0)

What Gregg is Saying

“It’s not only the fact that they need results [that makes the game more challenging],” USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter told ussoccer.com. “I think Canada has a good team. They are strong at home, and for us it’s a great test. We want to be able to go on the road and perform well, and part of it is starting that journey of road games together. This is a great example of that.”