Canada learned a tough lesson ahead of the World Cup with the loss to Uruguay

Canada learned a tough lesson ahead of the World Cup with the loss to Uruguay

In 57 days, the Canadian men’s national team will play their first match against Belgium in the World Cup since 1986.

Having not faced a team from outside of CONCACAF since January 2020, it was necessary for Canada to play countries from outside its region – especially those at the top of the pyramid – in Group F. Preparing for Belgium, Croatia and Morocco.

Not only did Canada get that chance against Uruguay, the No. 13 nation in the world, in a 2-0 loss on Tuesday, it learned some valuable lessons heading into the World Cup window.

Here’s what we learned in Canada’s friendly defeat.

Margin game

Sports usually boil down to one big game, or a few key moments.

This was one of those opportunities. Clinical finishing certainly made the difference for Uruguay but there were certain sequences that opened up the game for both sides.

Uruguay’s transitions and high pressure were lethal from the start and this hampered Canada’s ability to play from the back. Steven Vittoria laughed a few times and accepted some precious change.

Even some of Vitoria’s passes completed under pressure put his teammates in compromising positions.

Distribution under pressure has never been Vitoria’s strength, so having Stefan Eustace, or Atiba Hutchinson, if he’s fit, drop into defense when Canada has possession to help orchestrate play in these conditions.

To the rearguard’s credit, it contained Uruguay for the majority of the second half, although it was done at that stage. However, there are some positive aspects to being friendly to Japan.

“We felt like we dominated, they kept us out of the box [in the second half]Defender Kamal Miller said: “It’s a positive for our backs that we dominated and shut down a number of world-class players.

“We know that Belgium, Croatia, all the other teams in the World Cup, even Japan, have qualified for the tournament. It’s another step up. We just have to continue to build on that foundation and get it from the back. Our guys Give us a chance to win games.”

Speaking of the midfield, as strong as Eustaquio and Samuel Piette have been in this window, there are still doubts as to whether they are the ideal pairing in matches of this magnitude.

Piette and Eustaquio work best as a partnership in games where Canada mainly runs through the midfield and relies on the flanks. If it wants to dictate the tempo, it needs three.

A big reason why was shown in the 26th minute. Payet, as he often does, was involved in a press against Nicolas de la Cruz, but was a few steps too slow, leaving acres of space behind with the defense exposed.

That won’t alleviate concerns about the lack of pace that includes the Eustaquio-Piette double pivot, especially against Croatia’s dynamic midfield team of Marcelo Brozovic, Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic at the World Cup.

Among all the issues in the first half hour, though, the back post defense has been Canada’s Achilles heel. is done for More than a year. It’s easy to fight back or build up while pushing. But if Alastair Johnston is at centre-back, there must be an urgency to mask his weakness in the air.

During a counterattack that took advantage of all the aforementioned problems for Canada in the first half, Darwin Nunes wasted the first chance at the back post.

Five minutes later, Nunez made sure he didn’t waste a second brilliant shot.

Perhaps switching to a back four with Johnston on the right is the way to go.

A tale of two goals

For all the GIFs and fancy phrases, football comes down to one area: finishing. Uruguay scored six goals to Canada’s 11. Two goals scored for the Uruguayans – both goals. Three of them were in the frame Les Rougeswho failed to convert.

“I think when you have that opportunity, you have to take it,” Canada coach John Herdman said after the game. “You see the level of clinical Uruguay was in taking their moments and Canada, it just felt like we wanted that extra pass, that extra touch.”

It wasn’t for lack of trying. Alphonso Davies was doing everything to create chances from open play. There were some dubious moments, which plagued the Canadian in the game, but he made up for it with some sensational plays.

Unfortunately, forward Ciel Lauren needed “that extra touch” to bowl and wasted this wonderful ball.

Jonathan David also needed “that extra touch” after Davis fed him in the box.

When flexibility was available, goalkeeper Sergio Rochet was up to the task.

It’s hard to get much out of the second half when Uruguay took a 2-0 lead without really pressing Canada after Nunez’s goal. But like the loss to the United States in the 2021 Gold Cup, there was a strong backlash. There was no killer instinct in the face of the target.

“If we tied the game but we didn’t really control the game, I would be mad,” Eustaquio said. “To be honest, I’m proud because we controlled the game. We lost 2-0, but it’s a test for Qatar in two months, and I think we’ll be more prepared.”

“As I told the players, we won’t get a performance award at the World Cup,” Herdman said. “I think we’re happy to try and control the game and get into the zone. We’ve got top-quality strikers, we’ve got top-quality wingers, we’ve got good midfielders. We’re capable of doing that. The performance was there. Which I expected it to be but we’ve got to win games and if you’re going to create that many chances there’s got to be somebody who’s going to create the end product.

KONE is a lock

As of Friday’s win over Qatar, Ismail Kon spent about 30 minutes against Uruguay and took advantage of the opportunity.

Coon’s ability to spray passes across the pitch and develop the ball under pressure are two attributes that could get Canada noticed at the World Cup. If he can translate that against Uruguay…

… to Japan, Belgium, Croatia and Morocco, but Kon is not a lock for the World Cup team. He could (and probably should) be in contention to start the Games in Doha.

That’s saying something for a 20-year-old who didn’t make any professional appearances before the 2022 MLS season, but that’s how meteoric Con’s rise has been. He deserves it.

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