Canada-El Salvador preview

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julian de guz

By Jim Wilkie Special to ISN

Julian de Guzman Photo by Derek Cain ISN

VANCOUVER — After dispatching their nemesis Honduras in a 1-0 victory Friday night at BC Place the Canadian men’s national soccer team try to take another step toward World Cup Russia 2018 on Tuesday when they play in El Salvador.

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 Team Canada Photo by Derek Cain ISN

Canada will still have four games remaining against their Group A rivals, but grabbing a perfect 6 points through the first two games would make a huge statement that Canadian soccer is back on track after many years of heartbreak.Friday’s victory was a strong statement itself as the Canadians topped a Honduran team that humiliated it 8-1 and eliminated it from World Cup qualification in 2012. A statement not only on the scoreboard, but also through the composed, determined and confident manner in which it secured that 1-0 victory through strong defence and creative attacking.”The players are so happy that they don’t allow me to say what to do in El Salvador (tonight),” Canada coach Benito Floro said after the victory over Honduras. “(Saturday) they are going to know what to do because we are going to train.

The happiness in soccer is one second. Immediately we need to think about El Salvador … to try to win the game the best way.”The Canadians are scheduled to fly Sunday to San Salvador before they face El Salvador at 5:30 p.m. PT Tuesday at Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador (beIn Sports Canada).Canada has a 7-3-3 all-time record vs. El Salvador and played to a scoreless draw July 8 in Los Angeles in the group stage of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Just as Friday’s match against Honduras was revenge for Canada, Tuesday’s game is Cyle Larin’s opportunity for redemption against El Salvador.

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Cyle Larin Photo by Derek Cain ISN

The Orlando City striker and MLS 2015 Rookie of the Year who set a first-year record of 17 goals https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oygmoTWbdRw and could have prevented Canada’s quick, winless (0-2-1) and scoreless exit from the tournament.”I’m Canadian, so obviously I know what was happening at the time and just to go out there and do something for Canada and show that we can play and beat good teams and hopefully make it to the World Cup,” Larin said Thursday about his previous match against El Salvador.

Larin’s unfortunate gaffe was forgiven by Canadian soccer fans on Friday the 13th when the 20-year-old had luck fall his way with the only goal against Honduras.  Larin got tangled up with a Honduran defender and was rolling toward the goal line when Will Johnson’s header off a Junior Hoilett cross went in off his back in the 38th minute.”A goal is a goal, sometimes they come like that, sometimes they come easy, sometimes they come hard, so a striker can score off any part of your body and it’s a goal,” Larin said after the Honduras game.

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David Junior Holiest Photo by Derek Cain ISN

Hoilett, 25, only recently committed to Canada and earned just his second cap Friday. He brings more creativity down the left side and continued chemistry between the Queens Park Rangers midfielder and his countrymen should be, as Floro said, “very dangerous for opponents.” “I think El Salvador will be very quick, very skilled players on the ball and they’ll be everywhere so I think it will be a very good game for us to play and for us to move the ball around and score a couple of goals,”

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David Junior Holiest Photo by Derek Cain ISN

Larin said.Just a single World Cup final appearance in 1986 and years of disappointing results have Canada 102nd in the FIFA world rankings, but new blood and former Real Madrid boss Floro have rejuvenated Les Rouges.After Tuesday’s match, group play resumes March 25 at home against Mexico, followed by a March 29 date in Mexico.

Canada then plays at Honduras on Sept. 2 and at home against El Salvador on Sept. 6. Sites have not yet been determined for Canada’s home matches, but the fresh, chilly air of the open roof and the support of most of the 20,108 fans in attendance Friday night make a return to BC Place a strong possibility for the Mexico game.Two teams from each of the three groups will advance to CONCACAF’s fifth round.

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David Junior Holiest Photo by Derek Cain ISN

After home-and home games, the top three teams automatically qualify for the World Cup final in Russia and the fourth-place team earns a two-game playoff against a team from the Asian Football Confederation.Canada still has a lot of work ahead to reach just the hexagonal stage, but so far they showed they can compete with one CONCACAF team that made it to the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil.”We have a lot ahead of us. And I think with this type of (attacking) philosophy and mentality that we have, this is the only way to go to make it to the hex,” Canada midfielder and captain Julian de Guzman said. “I mean it’s a long way to go but it’s very possible for us.”

@jimwilkie

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