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Canada World Cup Qualifiers: What We Learned In Wins Against Aruba, Suriname

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Canada World Cup Qualifiers: What We Learned In Wins Against Aruba, Suriname

After months of preparation, the Canadian men’s team concluded the first qualifying round for the Concacaf World Cup in the same way it began: with a pair of resounding victories.

The Canadians defeated Aruba 7-0 last Saturday before defeating Suriname 4-0 on Tuesday to top Group B with a perfect 4-0-0 record. He now expects a two-game second-round showdown against Haiti, with the first game scheduled for Saturday in Port-au-Prince before “hosting” the Haitians in Chicago for the second leg on June 15.

Canada should enter these games feeling confident, especially after what has been seen in recent days. Here’s what we learned from Canada’s victories over Aruba and Suriname.

The Davies-David connection is alive and well

Left out of the starting lineup against Aruba to prepare for Tuesday night, Jonathan David and Alphonso Davies started against Suriname and delivered the big game performances they were expected to deliver.

David had a hat trick, which led him to tie for sixth place on the Canadian men’s team’s all-time goalscorer list with 15 goals. Davies provided his first two goals before the Lille forward converted a penalty for the third of the night.

However, it was Davies who opened the scoring with David recording the assist, calming some Canadian nerves in the process.

“The combination with me and David is one of those that just happens, I guess,” Davies said at the post-game press conference. “The only time we played together was at the national team level, but I think we have that connection with me and with him, so it was good today.”

Before the first game, the dynamic duo from Canada did not connect as often. With David joining Cyle Larin up front, both forwards huddled together when running runs, while Davies constantly wandered inside from the left flank to make room, but to no avail.

Then David and Larin began to alternate as a second striker who would fall in midfield and join the preparation, with the other forward more forward. The striker closest to the box tried to isolate the Surinamese central defender with a teammate hitting a pass to grab. David got that exact opportunity from Alistair Johnston, but couldn’t convert the opportunity.

It became clear that either strategy would be Canada’s main route to the goal. Ultimately, that’s what led to Davies’ first game. David fell deeper, Davies raced down the flank past Suriname’s Kelvin Leerdam before finishing with poise.

For the second objective, the roles were reversed. Davies picked up a loose ball, cut to the middle, David started a run between Ryan Donk and Shaquille Pinas.

The rest was easy.

Often times the association feels telepathic, even when they are not clicking at a specific moment. They only completed four passes between them before the first goal, but they were able to jump from here now.

“You just know where he is,” Davies said when asked about his connection to David. “When he wants the ball, he just makes his presence felt. For years playing with Jonathan, we found that bond, we found that connection and that’s what we try to show every time we play. “

Davies thrives in the role of winger

Lost in the uproar of victory was coach John Herdman changing to a 3-5-2 for the game with Davies starting on the left back.

Considering that Canada played with three defenses in possession during their first three qualifiers, it was not a completely strange concept. Even Alistair Johnston, who left his well-known right-back role, has occasionally placed himself at right center with Nashville SC in certain situations.

But the tactical shift presented its challenges early in the game. Suriname’s best spells were generated in the first 15 minutes, with Sheraldo Becker breaking the crossbar, moments after Tjaronn Cherry forced a save from Milan Borjan via a free kick.

“The first 15 minutes we were trying to figure it out,” explained Davies. “Obviously it was a new system for us, and we were trying to figure out the system in the game. … We just knew we had to play our game, play it safe and attack at the right time. “

Finally, Canada weathered the storm when Suriname eased its high pressure. Davies took over from there.

The 20-year-old completed 10 of 15 dribbles, four key passes, 0.69 expected assists and it had 73 touches. Only Johnston (85) and Stephen Eustaquio (88) had more.

“I like Davies as a winger,” Herdman said. “I think it is a very good and balanced position for him. He is able to contribute in attack and defense and, as you can see, he can get closer to the area and then recover when necessary. “

Canada was so strong on the left side in attack, that 83 percent of their open play expected goals (xG) were created on that flank.

The 3-5-2 might not be the main formation going forward, but it allows Davies to advance from deeper areas while providing cover on defense. That can be useful in select matches.

“I have no problem playing wingback,” Davies said. “It gives me the opportunity to advance and the system we played was good for our full-backs and for us to go ahead to attack. That’s what we did … It was a new system for us, but we are all first-rate professional footballers and we found out quickly. “

Wotherspoon, Kaye prove their worth

Neither David Wotherspoon nor Mark-Anthony Kaye started against Suriname, but they were arguably Canada’s top two players against Aruba.

Canada took 18 minutes to open the scoring, with Kaye assisting Lucas Cavallini for the first goal of the match.

That was a sign of things to come for the LAFC midfielder. Kaye completed 42 of his 52 passes, had three key passes and was responsible for several line breaking sequences.

Even as a substitute, Kaye managed to influence Suriname’s game with a couple of fantastic passes.

“Man of the game tonight,” Herdman said of Kaye’s performance on Saturday. “A ruthless performance. He wanted to set that tone, and I think he did it tonight, particularly in the second half to see him keep organizing the team and putting pressure on the back, his recovery, it was everywhere. “

“We had to remain persistent and trust our tactical ideas of what we wanted to do in the game,” Kaye explained when asked how the Aruba game opened up for him. “It’s not going to work all the time, but you have to keep hammering and eventually the team that you are defending is going to fail and give you a chance to really capitalize. I pride myself on my ability to make those passes and get players in key areas to believe for other people or score for themselves. “

Not to be outdone, Wotherspoon generated two key passes of his own while seemingly covering every inch of grass. It wasn’t as flashy as Kaye’s demo, but Wotherspoon’s performance remained comprehensive, especially with his clever movement off the ball.

“Spoony is Spoony,” Herdman said. “He is a constant performer. … He has a really solid profile in that offensive midfield position. You know it’s going to do those smart channel tours. He’ll create assists and he just has composure, a calm to the game that I think the players around him really enjoy playing with him. “

“Spoony is a very smart player with the way he moves,” Kaye said. “He has a good first touch that allows him to continue these plays in the future. … I know I can trust him on that side to organize the left side and be a threat in the area when he is trying to solve something from his side and vice versa. He likes to do these deep runs when I get on the ball and cut in and try to find him every now and then. I don’t want to exaggerate, but it’s nice to play with a guy who is so humble and wants to work hard for everyone around him. “

Now Herdman has a dilemma every coach wishes they had: a lot of depth in midfield that can be useful in any situation.

Kennedy shines in Canada debuts

Throughout John Herdman’s tenure as coach, the depth of Canada’s central defense has been identified as the weakest position in the team. It may not be perfect, but you can add another piece of the puzzle in the shape of Scott Kennedy.

Jahn Regensburg’s 24-year-old defender in Germany’s 2. Bundesliga was thrown straight into the fire to make his debut against Suriname in a life-and-death match and excelled under pressure. Not that it was a big surprise for his coach.

“It was as strong a debut as I’ve seen it in this country,” Herdman said. “Since we need to strengthen ourselves in that defensive moment of the organization, I think he really helped in that process tonight.”

Kennedy not only delivered an impeccable defensive performance against a swift attack from Suriname, he also showed his distribution, which was an area of ​​improvement for him after a strong campaign in Germany. Even when you look at her statistical radarIt was obviously going to be a defensive force, but it lacked its stride.

Kennedy was involved in the first goal, playing the opening ball to David before he set up Davies. But as seen on his passing map below, the Calgary native was making some fantastic exit passes.

After a debut like this and another monumental game looming Saturday, Kennedy could be the favorite to keep his spot in the lineup against Haiti.

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