PREVIEW – The CanMNT faces heavy favourite Mexico in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup semifinals. Both teams are coming off dominant wins in the quarterfinals stage. They will both look to continue that momentum on July 29.
CanMNT faces Mexico next in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup knockout stages
The CanMNT notable win against Costa Rica
On Sunday, the CanMNT put Concacaf on notice. The 70th ranked Canadian side (according to FIFA) completely dominated the 50th ranked Costa Ricans from start to finish. As a result, Costa Rica did not have a shot on goal and two of their four shots were blocked by Canada.
On offence, CanMNT was spectacular. In particular, F.C. Paços de Ferreira player Stephen Eustáquio was the best player in the game. He made several great crosses. More importantly, he provided an assist and a goal in Canada’s dominant 0-2 win over Costa Rica.
— Last Word on Soccer (@LastWordSC) July 25, 2021
In particular, the assist by Eustáquio was spectacular. This was the same case for Junior Hoilett, who timed his run right and flicked the ball above the Costa Rican goalkeeper, and back into the net (link to the goal for the U.S. viewers). The other goal was scored thanks to extreme pressure by the CanMNT. The Costa Ricans were under a lot of pressure, which ended up with Eustáquio scoring a goal (his third goal of the tournament). Canadian head coach John Herdman was pleased with the team’s performance:
This shows that CanMNT believes they have not reached their ceiling. Eustáquio also talked about his partnership with Mark-Anthony Kaye and the brotherhood shared between the two players according to OneSoccer.
The CanMNT injury problems
The problem for Canada though is who will replace Vancouver Whitecaps FC player Lucas Cavallini and Moreirense F.C. player Steven Vitória. Both players will not be available against Mexico because of yellow card accumulation. Because of that, Suwon Samsung Bluewings Doneil Henry is most likely going to replace Vitoria. The question is who will replace Cavallini. There are two options. One is Orlando City SC player Tesho Akindele and the other is Wolverhampton Wanderers player Theo Corbeanu. It is a really tough decision.
Corbeanu has two goals in five appearances while Akindele has three goals in eighteen appearances. However, the fact that Akindele was called up only after Toronto FC player Ayo Akinola got injured indicates that Corbeanu might be the favourite to replace Cavallini. It is close though, and it would not be surprising if Akindele starts for CanMNT.
The giants of Concacaf
Mexico is ranked 11th in the world. They are the highest-ranked team in Concacaf. However, they have not been playing like a 10th ranked team in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. They tied with Trinidad and Tobago and only got a 1-0 win over El Salvador.
😱🇲🇽 ¡Lo tuvo Funes Mori! El delantero de @miseleccionmx quedó cara a cara con el arco pero definió débil y permitió que despejen el balón en la línea.#EstoEsNuestro #CopaOro21 🏆 pic.twitter.com/XdHAbrE0YG
— Gold Cup (@GoldCup) July 25, 2021
They have, however, got a convincing 3-0 win over Honduras (including a Rogelio Funes Mori goal, link here for the U.S. viewers). This is what Mexican head coach Gerardo Martino said about the game according to TheN24:
Players to watch for the CanMNT
There are many players to watch from a CanMNT perspective. However, Rogelio Funes Mori might be at the top of the list. He currently plays for Liga MX side Monterrey, where he has found success. He has scored 98 goals in 198 appearances for Monterrey. Furthermore, he has scored four goals in only five appearances for the Mexican side.
— Gold Cup (@GoldCup) July 25, 2021
There is also Orbelin Pineda, who has scored two goals in the Gold Cup (link to the goal for the U.S. viewers). Mexico is a team that will get chances to score. It will not be like the game against Costa Rica. Canada should be aware of that. They also took advantage of their chances in their last game. Mexico had six shots on goal, and three of them ended up in the back of the net.
Most notably is their defence though. Mexico has not given up a single goal in the Gold Cup. They are the only Concacaf nation in this Gold Cup that has accomplished that.
Looking at their midfielders, most of them come from either Liga MX, MLS, or Europe. The most notable one might be Edson Álvarez who currently plays for AFC Ajax. He is mainly a defensive midfielder. Unfortunately for Mexico, Álvarez left the game with an apparent injury. His status against the CanMNT is unknown. This would be a big blow for Mexico as Álvarez might be their most notable midfielder. There are possible replacements for Álvarez. There is Érick Gutiérrez, who plays for PSV Eindhoven. He plays in the Eredivisie league, which is the highest-level league in the Netherlands.
CanMNT faces favourites Mexico in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup semifinals
Semifinal matchup is set!
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) July 26, 2021
One of the most important games in quite a while is coming for CanMNT. After eliminating Costa Rica from the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, they look to pull an upset against Mexico. The win against Costa Rica can be considered an upset, but CanMNT looked more impressive in a tougher group stage than Costa Rica.
Prediction: Mexico wins in penalty kicks.
Yes, Mexico is the favourites, but CanMNT can win this game. The Mexicans as mentioned before struggled in the group stage of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. They will be tough against the Canadians. This will not be a blowout or a convincing win like Mexico and CanMNT had in the quarterfinals.
In particular, Mexico will need to be careful with Eustáquio. He plays at a very high level in Portugal and is an incredible passer. A similar thing can be said about New England Revolution player Tajon Buchanan, who is blossoming with the CanMNT. The game will take place at 10:00 p.m. ET and will be shown on OneSoccer. The game will take place at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.