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Analysis: Canada Come Out The Victors in a Grueling 1-0 Win Over Peru

By on June 25, 2024 0 591 Views

It was not the most beauitiful of spectacles, but it sure did hold drama.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Men’s National Team secured their first win under new Head Coach Jesse Marsch as they overcame the blistering heat in Kansas City to defeat Peru by one goal to nil. Jonathan David’s second half strike proved to be the difference in a match that felt as brutal on the eye as the heat must have been in the stadium.

Heat Takes Its Toll In First Half

There were some concerns ahead of the match when it was being reported that there would be an “excessive heat” warning in Kansas City, with temperatures rising up to almost 40C. It certaintly looked like those concerns were warranted inside that first half for Canada.

While Peru might have been used to such climates, it quickly became apparent that Canada were not. After the opening 10-15 minutes, Canada’s play became very sloppy. Players began to struggle to get any good first touches let alone string together some good passes. That gave Peru plenty of opportunites to knock on Canada’s door, as they grew more into the half by holding onto more possession and firing off more shots. Thankfully, the Canadian defence and the hero versus Argentina Maxime Crepeau were there to snuff out the dangers.

It became clear by the half-time whistle that change needed to happen for Jesse Marsch’s side after was what a dismal first 45, particularly for players like Ismael Kone and Liam Millar. The game was honestly calling for someone to come in and provide that spark. And it turned out that that person was coming off the bench for the second half.

Jacob Shaffelburg: The Spark Canada Needed

It was a shock to see that Jacob Shaffelburg was not in the starting eleven for Canada after a superb cameo against Argentina in Canada’s opening match of the Copa America. In just over 30 minutes, Shaffelburg created one of Canada’s biggest chances of the night, and tore down that left side to give the Argentinian defenders something to worry about. Yet, here he was, starting on the bench.

It then became a relief to see him don the red jersey and jog onto the pitch as the half-time break came to an end. From the get-go, Shaffelburg began to take Peruvian players on, run down the channels and look for space to put in crosses. He nearly singlehandedly turned the dial up on the team to get them playing some better football at Children’s Mercy Park. He created the most chances of the match with a superb cross in for Larin that the striker hit wide, alongside his assist to Jonathan David for the goal.

While his passing rate wasn’t the most precise, he was the one of the only players that kept pushing at Peru’s defence, trying to unlock it after they went down to 10 men. It felt justified that it was his pass that led to Canada’s all-important goal, as his appearance became the catalyst for one of Canada’s most historic wins in recent memory.

In truth, it feels like Shaffelburg must be the first name on the call sheet for the match against Chile on Saturday (alongside an impenetrable Crepeau). Canada looked simply flat without his energy running up and down the left wing. Should his performances continue at this level, he could become an important centre-piece for this new era of Canadian Men’s soccer, and perhaps earn himself an European move to boot.

Peru Shows Canada Need to Toughen Up Versus Chile

One of the biggest factors going into this Copa America tournament was not whether Canada could match-up to these South American teams in terms of talent and quality, as the amount of Canadians in Europe that are playing at the highest level proves they can. Instead, it was whether they could manage the physical and mental side of their game.

Teams like Peru and Chile can be downright brutal in how they play. The earlier match between the two sides last Friday was nothing short of a bloodbath, with high-flying tackles, full-blooded challenges, and more than a few colourful words thrown around. But that is the norm in competitions like Copa America, so much so that only four yellow cards were given despite nearly 40 fouls committed between the two sides. South American officials are much more lenient than those used to by fans who watch North American and European soccer. And it showed in this match as well.

Peru finished the match with ten men after Miguel Araujo was given his marching orders for a high-footed tackle on Shaffelburg, but they easily could have – and maybe should have – been down to nine. Marcos Lopez seemed to have a heated exchange with Alistair Johnston just off the pitch, which culminated with Lopez ducking his head and headbutting Johnston to the ground. VAR reviewed the whole affair and – astonishingly – deemed no foul play.

While it was a shock to say the least, it is these kinds of mind games that Canada need to be prepared for. Peru were wasting time at various stages by dramatically falling to the floor after fouls and getting under the skin of the Canadian players. Chile will be no different. Canada needs to rise above these dark arts that South American teams like to do (as a Colombian, I should know) and focus on their own play.

Chile will be a massive match for them to secure second place and move onto the Quarter-Finals of the Copa America. Fans should hope they can rise to the occasion in more than one way on Saturday to get the job done.

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