PREVIEW – CanMNT could make the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup semifinals for the first time since 2007. In that year, they defeated Guatemala 3-0 in the quarterfinals. On July 25, they have a chance to once again make that a possibility. They will face Costa Rica who won Group C of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
CanMNT could make the semifinal round for the first time since 2007
The last time the CanMNT made the Concacaf Gold Cup semifinals, many of these players were not old enough to play for the team. It has been a long time, but they have a great chance to make a little history for themselves this year. They were able to beat Haiti three times after losing to them in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinals round. This included the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup group stage, where Canada defeated Haiti 1-4. They also eliminated Haiti from qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. CanMNT won the two-game aggregate by a score of 4-0.
Canada was also able to defeat Martinique 4-1. However, they would end up losing to the U.S. by a score of 1-0. This is despite Canada being the better team for most of the game. They should possibly also have gotten a penalty. The one that looked most likely was in the 50-minute when it looked like a Canadian player had been pushed to the ground.
This is what CanMNT head coach John Herdman said about the game according to The Canadian Press:
“While I’m pissed with the result today, you’ll go in and be pretty happy with some elements of that performance that we can set ourselves up for the quarter-finals,” he added.
Tesho Akindele added to Canada's Gold Cup roster.#CANMNT 🍁 https://t.co/3g0A75NjxE pic.twitter.com/hTODR1rU6L
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) July 23, 2021
The more concerning issue for the CanMNT though is their injuries. Both Beşiktaş J.K. player Cyle Larin and Toronto FC player Ayo Akinola are out for the rest of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. More concerningly, is that Akinola may be out for quite a bit of World Cup qualifying. The good news though is that Stephen Eustáquio of F.C. Paços de Ferreira will be returning to the CanMNT.
He did not play against the USMNT because of yellow card accumulation. Orlando City SC player Tesho Akindele will replace Ayo Akinola. The 29-year-old forward won Rookie of the Year in 2014 as a player of FC Dallas. He also won U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters Shield with Dallas in 2016.
The main striker for CanMNT now with both Larin and Akinola out will be Lucas Cavallini. The Vancouver Whitecaps FC player has scored several goals for the Canadian Men’s National Team. There is also midfielder Tajon Buchanan, who currently plays for the New England Revolution. Buchanan was Canada’s best player in the U-23s national team. This included scoring two goals against El Salvador in Concacaf World Cup qualifying. He also almost scored the equalizer against the Americans last Tuesday.
Costa Rica wins top Group C and looks to continue momentum against the CanMNT
Costa Rica won all three games in Group C. All three games were relatively close games. Both of Costa Rica’s wins over Jamaica and Suriname were one-goal games. They also defeated Guadeloupe by a final score of 3-1. Celso Borges of Deportivo La Coruña is the leading goal scorer for the Costa Ricans. He has scored two goals in the tournament. This is what Costa Rican captain Bryan Ruiz of Alajuelense said after the win against Jamaica according to 90min.com (translated into English by Internet Explorer).
“There are people who have not understood that my role now is different in the National Team, now it is to help the teacher and the group in what they need, I am 36 years old and physically it is not so easy.”
⚽ ¡GOOOL! El histórico @bryanruizcr, con un certero cabezazo, anota el 1-0 para 🇨🇷 @fedefutbolcrc sobre 🇯🇲 @jj_football.#EstoEsNuestro #CopaOro21 🏆 pic.twitter.com/FcrmLPpy0M
— Gold Cup (@GoldCup) July 21, 2021
Ruiz scored the game-winner against Jamaica and played a big role in Costa Rica defeating Jamaica. The Costa Ricans were the second-best team against Jamaica. However, they took advantage of their chances and won the game. This is despite their starting goalkeeper getting a red card in the 72-minute.
Leonel Moreira is Costa Rica’s starting goalkeeper for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. He plays for Liga FPD club Alajuelense. This means that either Esteban Alvarado of Herediano or Patrick Sequeira of Real Union will replace him for the Canada game. An educated guess would be Alvarado gets to play as he plays in the top level of Costa Rican soccer. Yes, Sequeira plays in Spain, but in the third-tier.
The CanMNT looks to win against Costa Rica on July 25 – Overview
Quarterfinal opponent is set! It's Costa Rica v #CANMNT 🍁 in the Concacaf Gold Cup 2021 Quarterfinals!#GoldCup21 pic.twitter.com/Zi81b0IpNd
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) July 21, 2021
The CanMNT could very well make a name for themselves against Costa Rica. A win against the Costa Ricans would prove that Canada deserves to be part of the elite Concacaf teams. It would also help improve their rankings, which sit at 70th right now according to FIFA. The Costa Ricans are currently ranked 50th in the most updated FIFA rankings.
It is not going to be easy. The Costa Ricans are not a team that can dominate other teams. However, they have also historically been competitive against top Concacaf teams. This includes Mexico, which they took to penalties in the 2019 Concacaf quarterfinals round. The key for CanMNT is to score the first goal. It is important to put pressure on the Costa Ricans first. If CanMNT plays the type of defence they played in most of the game against the U.S., they are in good shape. Furthermore, Costa Rica has not shown that they have the offensive weapons that the USMNT has in this tournament.
Prediction: CanMNT wins the game 0-1
The CanMNT is perfectly able to get a clean sheet. Even without Cyle Larin and Ayo Akinola, Canada still has enough to win this match. Having said that, it would not be surprising if CanMNT lost this game. They are missing a lot of their offensive weapons and will have a difficult time against this Costa Rican side. The game will take place on Sunday, July. 5 at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be shown to Canadians on OneSoccer. Also, the game will take place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.