Canada fell 1-0 to Iceland in a Men’s International Friendly at the tail end of their 12-day January camp to open the 2020 international season. Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team posted back-to-back wins over Barbados before falling to their European opponents on a first-half goal from a set play in the Wednesday night match.
Hólmar Eyjólfsson scored the lone goal in the 21st minute after a corner kick hit the crossbar. There was a bit of a goalmouth scramble as the ball came out, giving Eyjólfsson an open shot on target.
All three January matches were played in Irvine, California, with eight different players scoring for Canada across the two wins. In all, Canada featured 26 different players in the January camp, half of whom are 23 or younger and eligible for the upcoming Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in March.
“It was a strong performance from the players and they will be disappointed not to get the result,” said John Herdman, Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team Head Coach. “I think we had some good moments in the first half, but we struggled with the physicality and it was a bit of an adaptation from the two games prior, but clearly in the second half, we found a good rhythm and were the better team.”
The January camp gave Canada the opportunity to continue the positive development of the Men’s National Team Program while also providing international competition against Barbados and Iceland. The three matches provided the Men’s National Team with yet another opportunity to gain international match experience and build performance cohesion while also developing the cultural and tactical framework of the program.
“All in all, it’s been positive seeing 26 players, particularly those young players and I think we showed our squad depth and learned a lot about the player pool. While we weren’t able to pick up the valuable points, we strengthened the depth of the squad, providing young players with an opportunity to play against a strong football nation in Iceland.”
Canada finished the match with six U-23 players on the pitch, four of whom were taking part in their first ever Men’s National Team camp.
After going down 0-1, Canada dominated play after the break. Substitute Bassong caused problems down the right side, putting multiple balls into the box after ranging runs and creative combination play with Brym. Canada twice thought they had equalised with Tosaint Ricketts knocking the ball into the back of the net, but both times the plays were called offside. Midfielder Fraser, who was a threat on nearly every dead ball opportunity for Canada, had a chance for the late assist on a corner in the 90th minute, but the chance was headed high by Brym after the ball had rattled around in the Iceland box.
At the other end, Maxime Crépeau made the best defensive play with a diving save in the 76th minute after a low shot from inside the box was fired through a set of Canadian legs.
Canada’s starting XI featured Maxime Crépeau in goal, Richie Laryea at right back, Amer Didic and Kamal Miller at centre back, Samuel Adekugbe at left back, and Samuel Piette, Liam Fraser, Charles-Andreas Brym, Jonathan Osorio, Tesho Akindele and Tosaint Ricketts from the midfield up through to the attack. In the second half, coach John Herdman replaced Laryea with Zorhan Bassong (46’), Akindele with Jayden Nelson (75’), Adekugbe with Ashtone Morgan (79’), and Ricketts with Theo Bair (90’).