As someone who wouldn’t describe themself as a fan of any club, I do in fact enjoy watching soccer, or football for those who prefer to call it that. I have been indulging in the Canadian Men’s National Team as they look to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and I have quickly fallen in love with the most successful team in Canadian soccer since 1986.
In the past, we have been lucky to have the Canadian Women’s National Team who has made appearances in the World Cup and most recently won a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, but the men’s team has always lagged behind. The Women’s side has seen stars like Christine Sinclair, Kadeisha Buchanan, Jessie Fleming, and Stephanie Labbé, but the men just haven’t had that… until recently.
Before now, it’s hard to say that the Canadians ever really had a superstar. Maybe Julian de Guzman? Maybe you could say Dwayne De Rosario? Nevertheless, none of them even come close to being on the same level as current star, Alphonso Davies. Through Canada’s 11 World Cup qualifying games in 2021, Davies has started 10 of the games, scored four times, and assisted on an additional eight goals. Possibly the most impressive of his goals for Canada came in their most recent game against Panama.
Davies is simply unbelievable and yet, he’s only 20-years old. There’s no telling how good he could be by the time he reaches his prime. He is likely already the best soccer play in Canadian history, but who knows just how good he could be. It seems crazy to think that in five years, one of the best soccer players in the world could be Canadian, but that’s the path we are heading down.
Of course, soccer is the ultimate team game. One player can’t take over the game and win it all by themselves, no matter how hard Davies might be trying to do that. He needs a good supporting cast, and seemingly out of nowhere, the Canadians have put together a roster that has them seriously competing for a spot in the 2022 World Cup.
Players like Cyle Larin, Richie Laryea, Lucas Cavallini, and Jonathan David have all been critical in earning the Canadians wins and/or draws in difficult situations against nations that the Canadians previously wouldn’t have been able to get points out of.
After the most recent international competition window, the Canadians sit in third in the table, just behind the Americans, and three points behind the Mexicans. So far, Canada has visited both of those nations and scored a single point in a draw with both teams.
Things have gone about as well as anyone could have hoped so far in the World Cup qualifying for the Canadians. Although they have left some points on the table in games they could have won, they are one of only two teams who is yet to lose a game in the tournament with the other being Mexico, a Concacaf powerhouse.
Perhaps one of the most impressive things about the Canadian run so far has been the support the team has already garnered from around the nation. Just days before the Canadians took on Panama earlier this month, the Canadian government permitted them to have 100% capacity. While it may not have been a sellout with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ home opener taking place just down the street, the atmosphere was something special.
Whenever there is a big sporting moment happening in Canada, the nation latches on and elevates them. Be it the Toronto Blue Jays going on a playoff run, the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA championship, Bianca Andreescu beating Serena Williams to win a championship, or now the Canadian Men’s National Team, Canada loves their sports, especially when it’s all on the line and there’s something big at the end of it.
BMO Field was the place to be in Canada on that night, but with the next window of games, the Canadians will be heading to Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton to take on Costa Rica on November 12th and Mexico on November 19th. It’s only a two-game window, but they will be two pivotal games with Costa Rica and Panama nipping at the Canadian’s heels.
It’s key that the lively and passionate home-field advantage, but if previous experiences in Edmonton are any indication, no one should be too concerned about getting huge numbers packed into the stadium. In 2015, the Women’s World Cup saw Edmonton break an attendance record. When 53,058 packed into Commonwealth Stadium for the opening match of the Women’s World Cup, it set a record for the most people to ever attend a Canadian national team event for any sport.
There’s passion in Edmonton. Sure, it’s going to be the middle of November and possibly even snowing by then, but this is Canada. That’s our advantage. You can buy tickets to Canada Vs. Costa Rica here, and Canada Vs. Mexico here. We are witnessing history, and Canada soccer is being put on the map as we speak. If you aren’t already watching, you should be. You are seriously missing out.