Canada to return to Vancouver for WC qualifier


(Darryl Dyck/CP)

Canada’s World Cup qualifying game against Mexico in March will be played in Vancouver, Sportsnet has learned.

Multiple sources confirmed to Sportsnet broadcaster Irfaan Gaffar that the Reds’ semifinal-round qualifier against the Mexicans will take place at BC Place Stadium on March 25.

Canada Soccer is expected to make an official announcement on Thursday.

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The Canadian men’s team has traditionally played its World Cup qualifying matches in Toronto in recent years. But the Reds defeated Honduras 1-0 last month in Vancouver, marking the Reds’ return to the city for a qualifier for the first time since Oct. 13, 2004.

Just over 20,000 spectators witnessed Canada’s win over Honduras at BC Place, an impressive attendance number that led Canadian coach Benito Floro to publically express his preference to return to Vancouver for the Mexico game.

After defeating Honduras, Canada earned a 0-0 draw in El Salvador. Mexico currently tops Group A with six points, ahead of Canada (four points), El Salvador (one point) and Honduras (zero points).

The top two teams in the group move on to “the Hex,” the final round of qualifying in the CONCACAF region. From there, the top three nations in the six-team group automatically qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The fourth-place team will meet the fifth-best team from Asia in a two-game playoff with a World Cup berth at stake.

The Reds crashed out of qualifying for the last World Cup following a humiliating 8-1 loss to Honduras in San Pedro Sula in the semifinal round. Coach Stephen Hart lost his job in the aftermath of that humiliating loss.

Canada has appeared in just one World Cup, in 1986 in Mexico.

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