Canada’s national soccer team is making progress.
After a World Cup in which they had to watch their neighbours to the south conquer the Group of Death, on Tuesday, they demonstrated that the right steps are being taken to make North America a soccer power.
The Reds beat Jamaica 3-1 in coach Benito Floro’s first international game at BMO field. This was Canada’s first win since Oct. 12, 2012.
“It was massive,” said striker Tosaint Ricketts, who finished off the game with a tap-in after a goalie error in the 72nd minute. “We’ve been working really hard, trying to implement Benito’s tactics and his ideologies, and we really brought it today.”
David Edgar and Marcel de Jong scored the other two goals for Canada, while Kemar Lawrence responded for Jamaica.
Canada started the game in a 4-3-3 against a very offensive visiting side, one that played six attacking-style players from the start. The Jamaicans tried to use pace and speed to take advantage of the home team’s veteran midfield.
The home side, playing with an older team with an average age of 28.5, found space early in the game to break apart the Jamaican defence, but couldn’t get the final touch to take the lead early in the half.
Issey Farran showed solid control on the right side with steady pace to create danger while linking up with Julian de Guzman and exploiting Jamaica’s weaker left side.
The game was a midfield battle until the 30th minute when Deshorn Brown found himself loose on the right side and was taken down 20 metres from the Canadian net by Bundesliga defender Andre Hainault.
Brown was awarded with a dangerous free kick in favour of the visiting team.
As a result of the play, Jamaica went up 1-0 with a stupendous free kick from Lawrence, who made it impossible for the goalie to reach by putting it in the top left corner.
Canada woke up after the goal, and only two minutes later, showed that their new coach was quickly leaving his mark on the team.
Quick passes and smooth playing led Edgar to send a low shot into the bottom corner tying the game in the 33rd minute.
This goal marked the first time Canada had scored in three consecutive matches since 2011.
Jamaica took control of the rest of the first half, forcing the home team to chase the ball, but they were unable to capitalize on their chances.
Both teams started the second half making offensive changes, but the same pace of play continued. Canada showed an impressive style of passing, linking up the defence to midfield, but the final touch was always the same chip over the opposing defence that never found its target.
Canada’s biggest playmaker, Toronto FC midfielder Kyle Bekker, proved to be the difference after he came on in the 45th minute.
He was able to create empty space in the heart of the Jamaican defence and send the forwards free.
Goalkeeper Milan Borjan was the most important player in a red shirt, saving three Jamaican breakaways and keeping the hosts in the game.
On the opposite side of the pitch, Jamaican keeper Andre Blake failed to pick up a rolling ball and dropped it into the path of Ricketts, who managed to score his 7th goal for the national team to pull the curtains down on this international friendly.
“The main thing is the team’s performance and what we’ve achieved in coming from a goal behind,” Edgar said. “It shows great character and great belief in what we’re doing here.”