July 14, 2024
  • July 14, 2024
Copa America Canada Argentina

Analysis: A Sobering Defeat For Canada Against Argentina

By on July 9, 2024 0 546 Views

It was always going to be a long-shot to defeat defending World and Copa America champions Argentina in the Semi-Finals. But on Tuesday evening, Canada’s hopes of reaching their first ever Copa America final were dashed after being defeated 2-0, with goals coming courtesy of Julian Alvarez and one Lionel Messi.

Bright Start Spoilt By Marginal Mistake

The energy going into this match could not have been any better for Canada. A plethora of videos and pictures were flooding social media as fans from all over the continent were pouring into New York to see their nation play in what is arguably one of the biggest nights the Men’s team has ever been involved in.

Despite the stadium hosting a sea of white and sky blue, the Canadian national anthem brought tears to many eyes in the pockets of red, as well as in those watching closely at home. The stage was set for a tremendous occasion as referee Piero Maza Gomez blew the opening whistle to get the game in motion.

Canada clearly used that energy that they got from their fans to good use in the opening 15 minutes, as they were able to put Argentina on the back-foot early on. Jacob Shaffelburg, who has been a menace for Canada throughout this competition, was once again at the heart of the attack in those early stages, having a few half-chances to test Emiliano Martinez in net. The intensity brought excitement to many on-lookers as it showed that Canada didn’t come here to sit back and hope. They came here to play.

But, as an important lesson to be learned, Canada’s bright start was dashed in seconds as Argentina spotted a chink in the Canadian defence and exploited it for all it was worth in the 22nd minute. Julian Alvarez spotted a space between Moise Bombito and Alistair Johnston that had grown just a few yards too big, and made a dashing run. Rodrigo de Paul caught on to his teammate’s idea and freed Alvarez with a crisp ball in behind.

Bombito tried to make up for the mistake but the Manchester City forward was ever-clinical, placing his shot in-between Max Crepeau’s legs to give Argentina the lead. In a flash, all the hardwork Canada had done had been undone. It goes to show that against the very best, you have to be as close to perfect as possible, or else any inch you give will be taken as a mile by the opposition.

Gulf In Experience Evident In Second Half

Canada did their best to try to get back into the game after going behind, but they quickly found themselves in a steep uphill battle. Argentina are a team that thrives when holding on to a lead, and pulled out every new and old trick in the book to waste time and get under Canada’s skin.

De Paul in particular became a focal point for Canada’s woes, as he turned into a nuisance in the match. He fell under every challenge, drawing fouls for Maza Gomez to whislte and buy. Jesse Marsch became a firey character on the sideline, furiously exclaiming his distate to the way the referee was playing into Argentina’s hands. It was a surprise the American coach was not sent-off for his antics, which included a colourful exit at the break and more than one sarcastic applause on the touchline.

While the antics were not pretty, they were effective as Canada became sloppier and sloppier as time went on. The first touches and final balls became more loose and erratic as the game wore on. Jonathan David was a shadow of his usual self, to the point where the once-undroppable forward was withdrawn with just under half an hour to go. Larin had flashses early on, but then became a mute figure at the top, overwhelmed by the wall of Argentines behind him. It was then no surprise that Argentina doubled their lead, once again pouncing on a poor clearence for Messi to deflect a shot home. At first glance, the goal looked offside but Derek Cornelius had laboured in getting back into position, thus keeping the eight-time Ballon D’Or winner onside.

It wasn’t until the subs came on that Canada breathed some more life into this match, with Tani Olawuseyi and Ali Ahmed combining well to create a few quality chances right at the end to give some hope for the Northern faithful. In the end, however, it was not meant to be as the match ended 2-0 for Argentina. It wasn’t Canada’s best performance, but it was full of grit and determination, and most of all, full of lessons for Marsch and co. to learn.

Future Bright For Canada Ahead of 2026

Prior to this game kicking off, Canada had already achieved something that was beyond many’s wildest expectations. To reach a Copa America semi-final when just under six months ago they might have not even qualified for the tournament is nothing short of incredible. For a side that only just got a new head coach just over a month from the tournament, and to have him come in and deliver a top-four finish is nothing less than spectacular. There are plenty of positives to take from this historic Copa America run, and it starts with those players on the pitch.

This was a defining tournament for many Canadians. Ismael Kone got his move to a big French side in the middle of it and celebrated that move with an ice-cold penalty that will live on in the hearts and minds of Canadian soccer fans for years to come. Jacob Shaffelburg announced himself on a World stage and showcased how far hard-work and dedication can get you from the humble coasts of Nova Scotia to one of the biggest venues in World football. Bombito, Cornelius, and Crepeau have surely earned their keep with the national team, and perhaps even earned some interest form abroad as they look to build on some stellar performances in their young careers.

The list could go on and on. Canada have not only shown that they are a footballing nation, but they have proved that they are a solid one. Famous victories over Venezuela and Peru will only push this team to aim for higher. Nevertheless, there is plenty of work to be had. With the 2026 World Cup on the horizon, Canada must make good on the raw talent and quality that they have and solidify it with a good direction. Marsch seems to have the heart and souls of these players, but they have to be supported by everyone around them. From their friends and families back home, to the executive members of the federation, to the hundreds of thousands of fans across the globe. The mentality has to be all-in. Not since the 2022 World Cup Qualifying final round has the belief in this team been so high, with the biggest difference between now and then is that the ceiling and floor is higher today.

With the third place game still to play for even more glory, let us ensure that this mountain peak becomes only a hilltop compared to the successes and achievements that this team will encounter in the years to come. For Club and Country.

Allez Les Rouges.

Header Image Photo Courtesy: Argentina National Team

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