Canada cruises over lowly Dominica in Concacaf Nations League qualifying

cyle-larin

Canada's Cyle Larin celebrates scoring against Dominica during second half Concacaf Nations League qualifier soccer action in Toronto on Tuesday, October 16, 2018. (Nathan Denette/CP)

• Canada 5 (David 3’; Hoilett 14’; Cavallini 18’; Joseph – own goal 46’, Larin 81’), Dominica 0
• Reds roll to easy win in Concacaf Nations League qualifier
• Teenagers Tabla, Busti and Brault-Guillard debut for Canada

TORONTO — To dine on the main course of the Concacaf Nations League, Canada must first whet its appetite with a few hors d’oeuvres.

The Reds continue to devour everything on their plate, as evidenced by their 5-0 win over lowly Dominica on Tuesday night at BMO Field before an announced crowd of 10,532 fans.

Youth prevailed in the Canadian lineup, with coach John Herdman giving starts to goalkeeper Alessandro Busti (who earned his first cap for Canada) and fellow teenagers Liam Miller (three caps), Jonathan David (two caps) and Alphonso Davies (eight caps). Defender Derek Cornelius, 20 years old, also started in just his second appearance for Canada.

Ballou Tabla, a 19-year-old winger with FC Barcelona’s reserve team, came on as a second-half substitute to earn his first cap. Tabla was raised in Montreal and recently pledged his international allegiance to Canada, but he had the option to play international soccer for Ivory Coast, his birth nation. Zachary Brault-Guillard, a 19-year-old defender with Olympique Lyon’s youth team, also earned his first cap when he entered the match in the second half.

Captain Scott Arfield was rested after picking up a minor hamstring injury in training on Sunday. Midfielder Atiba Hutchinson started and earned his 79th cap, playing his first game for the national team since a last September’s friendly against Jamaica at BMO Field.

Herdman was pleased with the result, the fact his team racked up five goals, and the flare it showed in attack at times.

“We had six teenagers on the pitch tonight, with three new caps; three players fully committed to Canada, which was a critical part [of this game],” Herdman said.

He later commented: “There’s still more to come. More young players to come over these next four years.”

Hutchinson was equally impressed with the young Canadian players who made their debuts.

“You could see they hit the ground running. They had a lot of confidence. They just wanted to go out there and express themselves,” Hutchinson offered.

Tuesday’s victory over the tiny island nation in the West Indies comes on the heels of Canada’s 8-0 destruction job of the U.S. Virgin Islands last month in its opening match of the Nations League qualifying campaign.

The inaugural 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League kicks off next September. Canada is attempting to qualify for the “A League” of the three-tier tournament where it would play Concacaf heavyweights such as the U.S, Mexico and Costa Rica. Canada now sits second in the qualifying group out of 34 teams, with two matches to go. The top six qualify for the “A League.”

Such was the gap in quality between Canada (No. 79 in the FIFA world rankings) and Dominica (177th) that the Reds essentially played with only two defenders. The final stat sheet just underlined the lopsided nature of the contest: Canada enjoyed 78.9 per cent possession, completed 669 passes to Dominica’s 182, and outshot the visitors 21-4.

With that it mind, it’s best not to read too much into this result if you’re a Canadian fan. Sure, it’s great that Herdman put his trust in youth on the night, and that he gave the teenagers a chance to earn some valuable international experience. But beating a team such as Dominica isn’t at all impressive. This game was simply a means to an end. The real test for Herdman’s side will come in the “A League,” should it qualify, when it’ll go up against the best nations in the Concacaf region.

It took Canada only three minutes to open the scoring, with David finishing off a pass from Davies after a flowing attacking move down the left flanks. David turned provider shortly after when his pass released Junior Hoilett and he slotted his shot past the Dominica goalkeeper.

Lucas Cavallini made it 3-0 by converting from the penalty spot with a cheeky chip shot that caught goalkeeper Glenson Prince completely off-guard.

“I have a really good friend of mine who always tells me how to take my penalties. He sent me a video of how [Prince] moves on penalties. He saw that he dives a lot, so he said ‘just chip it [because] he’s not going to stay in the middle,’” Cavallini explained.

A comical own-goal by Dominica defender Malcom Joseph at the start of the second half padded Canada’s lead. Cyle Larin completed the rout for the hosts, tapping in at the near post off a cross from Davies late in the game.

NOTES: Canada next travels to Saint Kitts and Nevis on Nov. 18, and then hosts French Guiana next March. A venue for that match has yet to be determined, but BMO Field is the leading contender… Former national team striker Tomasz Radzinski, who was inducted into the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame earlier this year, was honoured during a special on-field presentation at halftime. The Polish-born Radzinski earned 46 caps for Canada between 1995 and 2009, with 10 goals and eight assists

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