Canada’s men’s national team kicked off its September window with a 2-0 win over Qatar in an international friendly on Friday.
Ciel Lauren and Jonathan David both scored within 15 minutes as Canada cruised to a comfortable victory the rest of the way.
Here are three highlights from Friday’s game as we look ahead to Uruguay’s friendly on Tuesday:
Double pivot axles
With Atiba Hutchinson and Jonathan Osorio out injured, that left Canada with just four fit midfielders for the two September friendlies.
Canadian coach John Herdman has used some variation of the double pivot in at least eight of Canada’s last 10 games, but the depleted depth has only improved those odds by using a midfield pairing in front of him.
Samuel Payet ends up gaining game fitness with Marc-Anthony Kaye next to Stephane Eustaquio and Ismail Kone playing an impact substitute role with CF Montreal.
However, Piette and Eustaquio also enter this window in impressive form for their respective clubs, only strengthening the argument that they should start together.
The hour they played together was not flawless and proved that Herdman’s decision was correct.
Really did it all in this game. For example, Payet (No. 6) and Eustace (No. 7) regularly won second balls and made quick passes when possession was lost.
They dropped back to form triangles on the flanks to join the wide players and Qatar’s compact 3-5-2 dropped across the pitch before making quick switches to stretch their defensive formation further. .
There were also some vital defensive interventions.
Payet eventually came off for Kone (No.8), and the 20-year-old made an immediate impact off the bench.
Had Sam Adekogbe not made the pass instead of Ike Ogbo, the latter might have gone back and had a clear shot on target.
The only question now is whether the Eustaquio-Piette partnership has enough pace to keep up with a more dynamic side, such as Uruguay, Japan or Belgium. These are Canada’s next three opponents and will certainly test that theory.
Cowan injected plenty of pace when he replaced Payet but lacked the defensive awareness needed to fully optimize a two-man midfield. These are the problems that Herdman will have to think about in the next few days.
Lauren rewards faith
Ciel Lauren’s appearances for Club Brugge this season have been brief, if not non-existent. Benching the men’s national team’s all-time leading scorer when the World Cup is around the corner is a bold decision, though, and Lauren has usually done business for her country over the past 18 months, regardless. The status of his club.
Herdman’s commitment paid off with Lauren scoring a header on four minutes. The defending from the goal was questionable at best but it clearly pleased the 27-year-old for the rest of the half.
Lauren had a great chance a few minutes later. Canada quickly weaved their way through Qatar’s high line, Lorraine making a run at the back with Alastair Johnston providing a killer through ball at the back. Canadian forward goalkeeper Saad Al-Sheib tried a fantastic shot at his near post to no avail.
Overall, it was an active game for Lauren, who was checked at half-time, maybe he will eat for the Uruguay friendly in a few days.
Preparing for Uruguay
The result was basically saved after 15 minutes. Canada was in complete control and Qatar didn’t threaten Milan Borjan’s goal too often. This meant that Uruguay’s preparations began early.
Canada started the game behind the ball with Sam Adekogbe on the left, Kamal Miller and Steven Vitoria as center backs and Alastair Johnston on the right. In possession, the two full-backs moved up to form a fluid 3-4-3.
That changed after Canada took a 2-0 lead. Instead of reverting to a 4-4-2 off the ball, Canada switched to a back five when it lost possession.
Yet they reverted to a 4-4-2 with four players in the back line – even if that included Eustace covering for substitute Richie Laria in the bottom order.
The back five may be Herdman’s strategy for the Uruguay game. of the Charros Has a lethal midfield and quality wide attackers, so moving up the halves and central channels may be a smart strategy.