April 15, 2024
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Canada Jacob Shaffelburg

Canada Copa Bound! Canada vs Trinidad & Tobago Match Analysis

By on March 23, 2024 0 755 Views

It wasn’t the prettiest of matches, but Canada got the job done.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, the Canadian Men’s National Team booked their ticket to the upcoming 2024 Copa America tournament after seeing off a stubborn Trinidad & Tobago side in Frisco Texas.

Two goals by Cyle Larin and Jacob Shaffelburg were enough to earn Les Rouges the crucial victory, but it was by no means a comfortable for Les Rouges.

Flat First Half for Canada

Canada knew what they were coming into. Interim Head Coach Mauro Biello had told media yesterday that it was going to be difficult to break down the low-block of Trinidad and Tobago in today’s match, and that was exactly what happened. Despite having three players in the midfield, Canada lacked creativity in the first forty-five minutes. Jonathan David was tasked to play the 10 in the 3-4-1-2, but struggled to connect with his fellow strikers to create some clear cut chances.

Davies was dynamic as ever on the wing, and should have gotten a second assist after his pass to Ismael Kone was flicked on to Larin in the box, but the Mallorca striker didn’t take that necessary touch to settle and instead shot it tamely on his weaker left foot. That was arguable Canada’s best chance of the half after they narrowly avoided conceding to a dangerous counter attack in which Levi Garcia’s shot just fizzled wide of the post.

Despite Canada dominating proceedings and getting various opportunites from set-pieces, the delivery and decision-making from many players was lacking in the first half, leaving many fans frustrated come half-time. It once again reflected the problems of creation and clinical finishing that have plagued Canada for years. But thankfully, that was all to change after half-time.

Larin & Shaffelburg to the Rescue!

It was fitting that two of the players that were struggling the most in the first half, Cyle Larin and Tajon Buchanan, were the ones that were integral to Canada’s first goal.

Buchanan, who got an early caution in the first half, had been struggling to match the pace of the game, and looked like the first player who was going to be replaced. But in the 61st minute, he flashed that quality that earned him his move to Inter Milan by driving down the middle, beating his man and laying it off for Ike Ugbo. Ugbo then flicked it on for Larin to latch on to and bear down on goal, firing a low shot to open the scoring. It was the goal that Canada needed, and arguably deserved, but struggled to gain.

Afterwards, the game opened up more and it felt like a proper football game rather than the nervy, disjointed match that preceeded it. But Trinidad still had threat, and had another chance to score afterwards through Garcia, but his shot inside the box was smothed by Crepeau. It then came down to the substitutes, with Jacob Shaffelburg making good on his appearence by marking it with a superb goal. David slotted him in down the left and the Nashville winger absolutely thumped his effort into the roof of the net to put the match to bed.

They were two great flashes in what was a rather dull match, but they were the difference between Copa America and summer heartbreak for the Men’s team.

Time To Prepare For Copa America

As always, what matters at the end of the match is the result. But if we are honest, it was not a top-notch performance by Les Rouges. The team struggled to break down Trinidad’s defence, and snatched at the half-chances they did manage to create. Biello’s chosen eleven was good in that it was attack-minded, something that Canada needed to have if they were to take their fate into their own hands.

The issue was that it was too attack-minded. Shoehorning David into a creative role when he has be utilized as the finisher at club level all season was a choice that stunted Canada. The wings in Tajon Buchanan and Alphonso Davies did their best to create from the wing, but the were consistently closed down and blocked. It simply required something a little more special from the centre.

Nevertheless, it was clear that Canada still needs to improve ahead of the Copa America window. The games against Jamaica and now Trinidad and Tobago left much to be desired, and they will not have any easier matches in Copa when they are going up against the reigning World Champions Argentina, Copa America royalty in Chile, and a resurging Peru side. Whether its Biello or a new coach, the team will need to come together to find that rhythm that can bring them success. Not only for the Copa America this summer, but for the entire warm-up period before the World Cup.

Header Image Photo Credit: Audrey Magny / Canada Soccer

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