Exactly two days short of hitting the two-year anniversary of Canada’s last win, the men’s national team put an end to their 16-game losing streak, beating Jamaica 3-1 in an international friendly.
It took 1,440 minutes of playing time, a 728 day wait, a visit from Mike Tyson, a new coach, and watching the World Cup from home, but Canada is back on track.
A big reason why the team is back to winning ways is due to the introduction of new coach Benito Floro of Spain.
Floro has been teaching the players his ideas and style of play for a little over a year, pulling away from the typical long-ball style Canadian teams tend to have, focusing more on the ideology of letting the ball do the work.
It is with this new mentality that we saw a Canadian national team complete over 150 more passes than their rivals, finish the game with 60-40 possession, and outshoot Jamaica 18-7.
A huge part of Floro’s game is exploiting the wings, drawing the opposing defence to the middle and attacking the opening space on both flanks.
It is with these tactics that Canada was able to outcross their opponents 21-7. It was a balanced attack with 10 crosses from the right and 11 from the left.
Did they win the World Cup? No. Did they qualify for anything? No. Did they win anything at all worth celebrating? Not really.
But they won, showing that progress is being made, and the process is being taking seriously by the coach, staff and players alike.
Floro spoke about free kicks, corners and throw-ins, and how they are some of the most fundamental parts of his game.
“Two of our three goals came from set pieces,” says Floro. “We need to take advantage of dead balls, they are the most dangerous part of the game.
“Their most dangerous attacks on us came after we lost positioning on two defensive throw-ins, and struggled against their speed. This is something that we have been working on again and again.”
While talking about Jamaica’s speed and power, age was also a topic of interest to the coach. He said that unlike a club where he can buy and sell players when needed, he is forced to play with what he has at his disposal.
Although four of the players in the starting lineup were over the age of 30, they can still contribute to the team if he feels they are going through a strong phase in their career.
“When it comes to our older players, they are in the moment they need to be to help this team,” Floro said. “Patrice [Bernier] is going through a good period with his team, Atiba [Hutchinson] is our best player, and [Julian] de Guzman is about to join a team but he is staying in shape.
“And although today was a tough physical game, I count on them as long as I see they are in good form and as long as they want to be here with us.”
It seems this win has sparked the enthusiasm Canada and its fans have been missing. The Canucks find themselves at an all-time-low 122nd in FIFA rankings, while Jamaica currently sits in the 85th spot.
“It takes time,” said defender David Edgar, whose stunning volley brought the hosts level after having given up the game’s first goal just a minute earlier.
“Any new manager comes in with his own philosophies and own strategies and we need to adapt. It’s taken time but we did a lot of the stuff [on Tuesday] that we’ve been working on behind closed doors.”
The potential is there, the team is there, and the desire is there.
And with this comeback win after two years of waiting, the national team has taken a huge step towards reaching their goal, and making their way into the elite of the sport.
“Any positive outcome is a huge step for our team, but we have to analyze if we won with luck, or if we won because we did things better,” says Floro. “The same goes when you lose, you have to see if you lost because you were outplayed and didn’t create chances, or if you lost because you hit the crossbar five times.
“But it’s always better to make progress after a victory than a loss, and I think we are on the right track.”