It's been 36 long years for Canada's soccer fans, but the national team is finally back to where it belongs – the World Cup. Soccer isn't Canada's top sport. Ice hockey wears the crown proudly. However, in line with the MLS, Canada's soccer has always been of solid quality. It was put over the top thanks to the emergence of stars such as Alphonso Davies. A player who's raging in the Bundesliga.
Now, according to coach John Herman, the men’s national soccer team is a “legit football country”. The Englishman is one of the key figures in the rise of Canada's men's soccer team. With a thumping 4-0 victory against Jamaica in the penultimate round of the qualifiers, Herdman's team earned a spot at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar that will be held during winter this year.
A Long Time Coming
Canada hasn't seen much World Cup football action in the past. The only time it went was in 1986 in Mexico, when the team was beaten in each game. It didn't even manage a draw. It was nowhere near close to even sniffing World Cup qualification in the decades that followed. But, thanks to the emergence of the MLS in the last decade, soccer has become a much bigger sport in North America and Canada.
Of course, things didn't just happen overnight. Canada's top spot in the qualification group was earned through hard work. Talents such as Bayern Munich's Alphonso Davies and Lille's Jonathan David led the country's soccer resurgence. Davies is Bayern's top choice for the left back position, while David is Lille's top scorer. These young guns have been immense for Herdman's team, which has played beyond any expectations.
Canada won the CONCACAF group with 28 points, level with Mexico and up by three in front of its rival USA. After a 4-0 win in the penultimate round, it secured the top spot, suffering a 1-0 loss to Panama in the final match. It didn't matter. Herdman's boys were already qualified, along with Mexico and USA. Costa Rica advanced to the inter-continental play-offs to be played at a later date.
A Tough Journey
Things didn't start that well for team Canada, who drew the first two matches against Honduras and the USA. Everyone expected a more tough time, but the team responded in a fantastic manner in the coming matches. Led by Kyle Larin, Davies, and David, it won against the USA in the coming rounds and other direct competitors, securing the top spot.
Larin was the surprising emerging star. The 26-year old could never break through the ranks in European soccer, but he's bagging quite a few goals in Besiktas. He's currently in the form of his life, and with 24 goals for Canada behind his name, he's the nation's top all-time goalscorer. His play and deadly instinct in front of goal, along with David and Davies drove Canada's men's soccer team to the World Cup finals.
Of course, no one's expecting Canada to win the World Cup, but the team won't be a pushover like in 1986. It's been drawn in a tough group with Belgium, Croatia, and Morocco, but considering the latest performances, we wouldn't be surprised if the team aims for at least the second spot. The quality is there – the guys now just need to play at their best.