Canada kicked off the Concacaf Final Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers Qatar 2022™ with a 1-1 draw at home after Cyle Larin scored the equalizer in the second half against Honduras. The home match from BMO Field in Toronto kicks off Canada’s 14-match journey on the road to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ with Canada’s next match against USA in Nashville on Sunday 5 September and El Salvador back home in Toronto on Wednesday 8 September.
Larin’s goal was his 19th career goal which ties him for second all-time international “A” goals alongside Dale Mitchell. With his 11 goals this year so far, Cyle Larin is also the sole leader for most Men’s National Team goals in a single calendar year.
“I’m proud of how the players responded. I think you got to see the real potential of this team in the second half,” said Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team Head Coach John Herdman. “It’s going to be a marathon. The first game at home, it was a three-point focus, but these boys were in a number of occasions inches away from sending the crowd home very happy. We’ve had a drop of two points tonight, and we’ve got to make them up now. It’s the start of the journey and we’ve got the ability to get better.”
Canada’s match against the USA in Nashville, TN on Sunday 5 September at 19.00 local / 20.00 ET / 17.00 PT can be seen on OneSoccer.ca and TSN and RDS. Canada will return home to BMO Field on Wednesday 8 September at 19.30 local / 19.30 ET / 16.30 PT on 8 September when they face El Salvador with the match available on OneSoccer.ca and Sportsnet.
“It was great to feel that energy, to feel that buzz coming from our fans. It’s exciting and we’re looking forward to all the moments coming ahead, as well,” said Canadian centre back Steven Vitória. “It’s the first time for all of us playing deep like this, in this phase of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, we expected a little bit of everything, and I think we got a bit of everything.
“That was a big welcome to the Concacaf Octagon. Nothing is going to be easy, nothing is going to be given,” said Canadian defender Alistair Johnston. “They came here, they grinded out a result on the road, and that’s something that we have to do against the US. There’s a lot we can take from that game, but, at the same time it’s such a short turnaround. It’s really important that we take a step forward.”
There was end-to-end action early in the first half, with the most significant moment coming as Alphonso Davies sped past a Honduran defender but his cut back pass did not find a teammate, and suddenly the Hondurans were breaking quickly the other way. Brayan Moya looked to be clear through on goal, but Alistair Johnston was able to get back and block the shot.
Milan Borjan had to make two huge back-to-back saves to keep Honduras off the score board in the 20’.
Honduras was awarded a penalty in the 39’ for a foul in the box by Tajon Buchanan, and Alexander Lopez slotted a clinical finish into the bottom corner to give the Hondurans the 0:1 lead (40’).
Canada nearly equalized at the end of the first half when Richie Laryea played in Jonathan David behind the defence, but his shot was parried away and Cyle Larin’s follow-up header on the rebound was easily saved by the Honduran keeper.
In the second half, Davies’ speed continued to create havoc down the left wing, but the Honduran defenders kept making last ditch blocks to prevent him from getting the final ball across the box to a teammate.
In the 54’, Laryea turned beautifully to get away from a defender and in behind the defence but was unable to get the final shot away. Just a minute later, Laryea was through again and fired a cross through the six-yard box, but it flew past Larin and out the far side.
Atiba Hutchinson wound up and unleashed a rocket of a shot in the 61’ that looked destined for the back of the net, but it was blocked on its way through by a Honduran defender.
Canada equalized on a Larin penalty straight down the middle (66’) after second half substitute Junior Hoilett’s touch took him past Maynor Figueroa and drew the Honduran defender into the foul. The play came after a fantastic 50-yard run by Laryea who found Davies wide on the overlap who then put a cross into the box.
In the 74’, it was the visiting side that nearly took the lead again, but the shot hit the post and bounced out off Borjan and the ball was then cleared away from danger.
At the other end of the pitch, Davies floated a ball over the top to Laryea, who cut a pass back to David, but David’s shot sliced wide of the goal (78’). David had another chance in the 81’ when Stephen Eustaquio found him at the back post, but this time the shot was blocked.
Canada continued to press late in the game, and in the 88’ Davies was again able to get a ball into the box, this time to Larin who headed it down to Laryea, but the shot went high and wide.
Canada’s starting XI featured Milan Borjan in goal, Kamal Miller at right back, Alistair Johnston and Steven Vitória at centre back, Richie Laryea at left back, and Tajon Buchanan, Alphonso Davies, Atiba Hutchinson, Stephen Eustaquio, Jonathan David and Cyle Larin from the midfield up through to the attack. In the second half, Herdman replaced Buchanan with Junior Hoilett (46’), and Miller with Scott Kennedy (86’).