Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Three Takeaways: CanMNT Edge Panama To Reach CNL Finals

Soccer: Concacaf Nations League Finals-Panama at Canada on June 15, 2023

ANALYSIS – Sunday just became one of the biggest nights in Canadian Men’s soccer history. After defeating Panama 2-0 on Thursday, Canadian Men’s Coach John Herdman mentioned that Sunday is now a chance to “feel some silverware in our hands”. But if Canada wants to get it done, they must improve after a slightly lackluster yet professional showing in Las Vegas. With rusty starts, impactful super subs, and more, here are our three takeaways as the CanMNT edged Panama to get to the CNL Finals.

Three Takeaways: CanMNT Reach First Final in 23 Years

#1: Rusty Beginnings In Vegas

It was not the greatest of starts for Canada in the competition. Starting in a more traditional 4-4-2 that played 3-4-1-2 in possession, the team struggled to adapt to the pace of the game, with Panama starting physically and pressuring hard. The Canucks were not holding possession cleanly and often resorted to direct balls from the centre-backs as ways to break past the Panamanian press.

When they did build up, it was through the wings, but many times they were called off-side, as runners such as Buchanan and Adekugbe were not timing their runs and making it easy for the Panama defence. But after 25 minutes or so, they finally started to come together. It was that smart, overloading play that allowed Kamal Miller to feed in Jonathan David to score in the 25-minute. It wasn’t a super elaborate or complex play, but it was effective and the off-the-ball runners made sure to open up space for David to drive into, completing the play.

Overall, Canada did not have the best game, but they were resilient enough and talented enough to see the game through. They will, however, need a brighter start against a dominant US side, who just beat favourites Mexico 3-0 later in that evening.

#2: Alphonso Davies, Canada’s Golden Boy

Alphonso Davies did not start the game against Panama after just coming back from another substantial injury in club duty with Bayern Munich. And while he has not played competitively in some time, he showed no signs of rust like his peers when he came on, as his electric pace and dazzling dribbling abilities were on full display from the moment he came on.

Davies was a nuisance for Panama down that left side, as his burst of pace and nimble feet always kept them second-guessing. He on more than one occasion created a golden opportunity by driving down the left, skipping past him man and crossing into the box, but no one was there at the end to finish it off. In the end, Davies decided to do it all himself in the 70-minute by once again getting the ball into the left side of the box, and this time unleashing a venomous shot into the roof of the net.

It was a stellar display from one of the hottest prospects in Europe, and with Real Madrid allegedly knocking on Bayern’s door for his services, he could still improve beyond this incredible level. Fans will certainly be hoping to see the Munich man in the starting line-up on Sunday against the US, to terrorize yet another defence.

#3: Three-Man Midfield The Way To Go

One of the key issues that was seen in the first half was that Canada was not able to control the match in the middle. Panama’s intense pressing made sure that the pivot in the middle was always being hounded, and never comfortable enough to turn and make progressive passes. Players like Ismael Kone, who have not had consistent game time, struggled to settle into the match and were caught making simple mistakes through a lack of concentration and sharpness.

The game improved in the second half once Jonathan Osorio and Atiba Hutchinson were introduced, as Canada reverted to a midfield three in a 3-5-2, making it easier for them to control the match and build up through the middle. It was a formation that we have seen success in the past, as it gets the best out of both the midfield players, the wingers, and even the forwards since David has more freedom going forward and less worry to track back and drop deep to build the attack.

In a world where midfield threes are the meta from the highest level to the amateurs, it is high time that Herdman commits to the midfield three and allows Canada to play the best football that it can do. With it, Canada certainly has the quality to face the US on Sunday and get a positive result, with the potential for some silverware.


Photo Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports, of a Canada Men’s National Soccer Team Headshot, on June 15, 2023.


More Posts

Send Us A Message