BRADENTON, Fla. – Canada ditched Aruba Saturday night, clinching a 7-0 victory and setting the stage for a showdown with Suriname on Tuesday.
“Work done,” Canada coach John Herdman said, noting that a game within the team on Friday was more intense than Aruba’s.
Herdman essentially sent a Canadian split squad against No. 205 Aruba with Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, Cyle Larin and Milan Borjan staying out of the starting 11, though Davies, David and Larin contributed late goals from the bench.
Lucas Cavallini scored twice and Junior Hoilett and Zachary Brault-Guillard added singles for Canada, which led 3-0 at the IMG Academy half.
A win or draw against No. 136 Suriname in Bridgeview, Ill., And the Canadian men in 70th place will advance to the second qualifying round at CONCACAF, which covers North America, Central America and the Caribbean. The winner of Group B moves on to a tiebreaker against the winner of Group E, likely No. 83 Haiti or No. 147 Nicaragua, in a round-trip playoff on June 12 and 15, to determine who advances to the final round. of eight teams in the CONCACAF classification.
Canada has not qualified for the final qualifying round since 1996-97 prior to the 1998 World Cup in France. The Canadians finished sixth and last in that final round with a 1-6-3 record.
Suriname, bolstered by an influx of mostly Dutch talent with roots in Suriname, will be a tough nut to crack than previous Canadian opposition. But while Canada and Suriname have perfect 3-0-0 records, Canada has the advantage in goal difference and will advance with a draw or win.
“It’s a good team. We will have to be in our game A,” Herdman said.
Given the short span between matches and Aruba’s minnow status in CONCACAF, Herdman essentially set up two different teams for the Aruba and Suriname games.
Bayern Munich’s Davies and Lille’s David entered in the 66th minute, with Canada leading 4-0.
David and Davies combined in the 78th minute with David’s 21-year-old game provider, sending the ball to 20-year-old Davies, whose strong shot from a tight angle went off a defender on the way to goal. It was Davies’ eighth goal in 20 games for Canada.
Besiktas’s Larin, who came in in the 72nd minute, finished off a pass from David in the 87th minute for Canada’s 13th goal to make it 6-0 after a loss by Aruba goalkeeper Eric Abdul. David scored two minutes later, dancing through the Aruba defense before scoring a left-footed shot. It was David’s 12th goal in 13 games for Canada.
Canada has outscored their opposition 23-1 in their three World Cup qualifiers to date, albeit against teams in the lower echelon of CONCACAF. The Canadians beat No. 186 Bermuda 5-1 and the Cayman Islands 194 ranked 11-0.
Suriname shut out Bermuda 6-0 on Friday in Paramaribo.
The eleven starters from Canada entered the game with a total of 110 games, 48 of which came from Hoilett and Cavallini. Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair and winger / winger Tajon Buchanan made their senior category debut.
Buchanan was a danger all night with Canada also getting excellent midfield performances from Mark-Anthony Kaye and David Wotherspoon.
“We have some good players with good rhythm,” Herdman said. “That gives me a lot of options to start the game or finish the game against Suriname.”
St. Clair was a virtual spectator for much of the game. Canada had 65 percent possession, had 11 corners against none from Aruba and outscored Aruba 23-0 (13-0 on shots on target).
Hoilett, who wore the captain’s armband on his 31st birthday, fell in the 32nd minute and was replaced by Brault-Guillard, who was part of the 11-man taxi squad Herdman called into camp to bolster his original 24-man roster. . Cavallini took over as patron, handing the bracelet over to Larin when he left.
Canada had never before played Aruba at the ‘A’ international level.
Saturday’s game was officially an Aruba home game, but it was moved to Florida due to travel restrictions related to the pandemic. Canada’s game against Suriname is a Canadian home game, but it will be played in Bridgeview, Illinois, for the same reasons.
The Canadians got off to a slow start but gradually found their rhythm and scoring touch against an Aruba team that was flooded as the stars reached the end of the game.
The advance came in the 17th minute with a Cavallini header that overtook Abdul after a good cross from Kaye.
Three minutes later, Hoilett converted a penalty after Marlon Perreira, unable to get out of the way of a shot from Liam Millar, was called to handball.
Cavallini made it 3-0 in first-half injury time, finishing off with a good low cross from Buchanan. It was his 16th goal in 20 games for Canada, tying him with Alex Bunbury for fifth on the Canadian men’s all-time goalscorer list.
Cavallini, who plays for the Vancouver Whitecaps, has five goals in his last two games for Canada.
Brault-Guillard made it 4-0 in the 49th minute, opening his scoring tally for Canada with a high-impact goal. The CF Montreal defender converted a defender into the penalty area and hit a high shot.
“What a cookie,” Herdman said. “The bank went absolutely crazy.”