Canada sets tone and sets record in Herdman’s competitive debut
Canada 8 U.S. Virgin Islands 0
When it comes to competitive debuts, it’s hard to do much better than recording the most lopsided victory in the history of the Canadian men’s team.
Canada beat the U.S. Virgin Islands 8-0 in Bradenton, Fla. to get off to a winning start in the CONCACAF Nations League qualifiers Sunday.
Canadian head coach John Herdman named the strongest squad possible and didn’t change his approach during the match. He started with two natural defenders on the pitch and deployed a team set out to overwhelm a potential USVI bunker.
Even leading 7-0 in the 70th minute, Herdman opted to make an attacking substitution, bringing on 31-year-old forward Tosaint Ricketts to play right fullback. Nineteen year old Zachary Brault-Guillard is a natural right back and could have come on in garbage time for his first cap. Instead Herdman opted to keep the foot on the gas and look for a record-setting eighth goal.
“Right at the beginning of the week the players were made aware of the goal record was for Canada and they went towards it. It was great to see today that they committed right to the end to make sure that they stepped off this pitch in the right way,” Herdman told Canada Soccer after the match. “I think it’s shifting the mindset. Instead of setting the bar low for the group, the bar was set at a certain point and the players reached it.”
Canada’s previous largest win was a 7-0 win in Saint Lucia in a 2011 World Cup qualifier. USVI had lost each of their previous two internationals by 7-0 scores and their biggest defeat came against Saint Lucia who beat them 14-0 in 2001.
“We came out here to make history and we have done so,” said Canadian midfielder Scott Arfield who captained the side for the first time.
“Right through the squad, and the boys on the bench, we’ve got goals everywhere. We wanted to make a statement that this is a new generation to take us forward. The confidence is buzzing for October now. It will probably be a similar game so now we know what to expect.
“Everyone’s happy with that result and now we move on again.”
The Canadians got off to an ideal start. Jonathan Osorio scored off of a Liam Millar cross six minutes in and two minutes later hit the underside of the bar and Lucas Cavallini reacted first to head Canada to a 2-0 lead.
Junior Hoilett sprung Osorio in clean on goal with an audacious rabona over the USVI backline. Osorio failed to finish the chance, but Hoilett set up Jonathan David for his first two international goals five minutes apart to double the Canadian lead.
Herdman could be heard encouraging his players from the touchline to score five in the first half and they obliged as Cavallini netted his brace with a quality turn.
David returned the favour for Hoilett on a gorgeous sixth goal. Hoilett beat three men and a flowing Canadian move saw the ball quickly switched across the field to David who then put it back across the face of goal for Hoilett to deposit.
Cyle Larin came on at half for Cavallini and he scored a brace thanks to a pair of Alphonso Davies crosses.
Herdman sent out a pair of central defenders — Derek Cornelius and Doneil Henry — and used two teenage attacking players at fullback in Davies and Liam Millar. Samuel Piette provided some cover in front of the backline, but Canada declared their intentions before the match even kicked off.
Herdman noted that with the 32 C heat at kickoff and USVI sitting in two deep blocks, he felt it took “a resilient performance to get the eight goals.”
Canada enjoyed a six-day camp in Bradenton that may ultimately prove much more valuable than the match did.
Herdman was pleased with his first camp with the bulk of Canada’s first-choice squad.
“We can be satisfied with the start of the journey,” Herdman said. “It was a good week of camp. We were able to blend the veterans and the young players together, start some of the foundation and some of the tactical identity, which we’ve seen there and some of the culture and that spirit.”
U.S. Virgin Islands 0 Canada 8
Goals: Osorio 6, Cavallini 8, 44, David 32, 37, Hoilett 50, Larin 60, 80.
U.S. Virgin Islands: Mozzo; Raejae Joseph, Smith (Wrensford 53), Labreda, Engerman (Laurencin 46); Dyer (Rakeem Joseph 65), Andrew, Saintl; Pierre, Dennis, Mack.
Canada: Borjan; Millar (Ricketts 70), Henry, Cornelius, Davies; Arfield, Piette; David (de Jong 61), Osorio, Hoilett; Cavallini (Larin 46).
Cautions: Labrada 71; de Jong 69.
Man of the Match: Junior Hoilett, Canada
Referee: Moeth Vincent Gaymes, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Attendance: N/A — IMG Soccer Complex, Bradenton, Fla., U.S.
September 9, 2018