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Analysis: Canada Valiant In 2-0 Copa America Defeat Versus Argentina

By on June 20, 2024 0 546 Views

It was always going to be a tall task to get a result against the World Champions.

For Canada, despite a strong start, they were unable to get the better of Argentina on Thursday evening as two goals from Julian Alvarez and Lautaro Martinez granted the Albiceleste an important three points to start the tournament.

Shaky Start Turns Solid In First Half

The atmosphere was electric in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium as a sea of blue and white was littered with little specks of red in the crowd. It was a massive occasion and opportunity for Canada, playing against one of the world’s best in Jesse Marsch‘s first competitive match as the Canadian Men’s National Team Head Coach.

Perhaps it was that ocassion that gave a few nerves for Canada when the game kicked off, as the team struggled to settle into the match inside the opening 15 minutes. A few players were making too hasty a pass at times, allowing Argentina to win back possession easily and put the pressure on the Canadians. Players like Ismael Kone and Alphonso Davies were guilty of giving possession away cheaply in this period, and were bailed out more than once by the pair of Moise Bombito and Derek Cornelius.

But then the shaky beginnings started to make way for some neat passages of play. Canada began stringing together some dangerous passes, bypassing lines of pressure and putting Argentina – who are ranked #1 in the world – on the back foot. Les Rouges even had a couple looks on goal in that half, including once particular chance for Stephen Eustaquio that looked destined to go in. The Porto man was found right in front of the net by a cross from Cyle Larin, but was denied by a stunning point-blank save by Emiliano Martinez.

“I thought we had a good performance and especially when we were able to execute our tactical plan,” said Marsch after the match via Joshua Kloke of the Athletic. “We made it very difficult on Argentina and really could have had some goals. We could have had the lead.”

Come the half-time whistle, a scoreless draw seemed the right reflection for the half as a whole, as both sides had a couple chances to score but ultimately failed to capitalize. The match looked poise for an exciting second half, needing someone to only create a spark for this game to explode. Unforunately for Canadian fans, it was Argentina who did so.

Harsh Lessons Learned Despite Scoreline

While a 2-0 loss against the world champions could be taken as a good result for a Canadian side that is still finding their feet, it could have been so much worse. Argentina ended the match with nine big chances. Astoundingly, they missed seven of them.

Part of that was due to some individual brilliance from the man between the sticks for Canada, but a lot of it was also due to Argentina just about missing their shooting boots. That includes a Lionel Messi who, incredibly, missed two breakaways in the second half. The little magician made up for it, however, by providing two brilliant passes for the goals.

Both the goals, as well as the seven other chances, demonstrated that while Canada have done well so far in this new system, there is still plenty to learn. More than one time were the backline caught out by a clever overhead pass, or some quick and direct short passes. Bombito and Cornelius did well in the first half to quell most of those kinds of attacks, but their defensive organization began to deteriorate in the second half, especially as the team began chasing the game.

“We’re performing better than I had hoped but we’re making more simple mistakes than I hoped,” admitted Marsch on his team giving so many opportunities to Argentina.

Question marks will also surely be asked about Canada’s attack, as they missed some massive chances to get on the scoreline tonight, particularly for Jonathan David and Cyle Larin. The pair had some great chances to score, especially one for the former who looped a headed effort right in front of goal. For Marsch, those moments are less of a concern for him right now.

“I’m not too concerned about not finishing,” remarked Marsch. “I know that over time those when you get those kinds of quality chances that you’re going to score enough goals and we have enough quality on the pitch.”

Perhaps what stands out as more of a concern for Marsch is how the backline can cope with heavy spells of being under pressure. He will certaintly need to shape up that defence ahead of the matches against Peru and Chile, lest they allow all their hard work be undone once again in the late-stages of those games.

Super Maxime Crepeau

One man who can come away from tonight with their head held extremely high is Portland Timbers ‘keeper Maxime Crepeau. Crepeau made an astounding six saves for Canada in this match, denying the likes of Messi and Angel Di Maria across the entire match. The Canadian ‘keeper was arguably the most concentrated individual on the pitch, dashing out of his goal to sweep long balls and coming up huge when closing down attackers.

The Longueuil, Quebec native kept Canada in for well over 70 minutes, giving his team and all the fans hope of possibly salvaging a draw from a match where Canada were outclassed in the second half. If it had not been for some misfiring guns up front, Crépeau was in-line for one of the most heroic of performances ever made in a red and white shirt.

Prior to the match, Jesse Marsch kept quiet on who he would chose between Crepeau and fellow MLS-er Dayne St. Clair. St. Clair was picked between the sticks for the match versus the Netherlands, while Crepeau held down the fort in Canada’s impressive draw against France. It would seem that Crepeau has rewarded Marsch for his endorsement by coming up with a monumental performance, one that surely guarantees him the starting spot for the forseeable future.

If Canada are to get a result against the likes of Chile and Peru, they will be hoping they can rely on Crepeau to rise up as he did tonight, with a little bit more support at the back and out front from his fellow teammates.

Header Image Photo Courtesy: Argentina National Team

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