Canada opens Concacaf Gold Cup with shutout win over Martinique


Canada's Alphonso Davies leaps over Martinique's Daniel Herelle. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

• Canada 4 (David 33’, 53’; Hoilett 63’; Arfield 67’), Martinique 0
• Canada opens Concacaf Gold Cup with big win at the Rose Bowl
• Teenager Jonathan David has 6 goals in 5 games for the Reds

It took six years, but Canada finally earned its revenge on Martinique at the Concacaf Gold Cup.

Teenaged forward Jonathan David bagged a brace and the defence rode its luck at times, as Canada earned a 4-0 win over Martinique at the Rose Bowl in California on Saturday night in the Gold Cup curtain raiser.

At the 2013 Gold Cup, Martinique upset Canada 1-0 at the Rose Bowl in the opening match of the tournament, and the Reds went on to crash out of the competition in the group stage. Three of Canada’s starters on Saturday saw action in that humiliating loss six years ago: goalkeeper Milan Borjan, and midfielders Jonathan Osorio and Samuel Piette.

Canada is tied with Mexico for first place in Group A with three points, after the Mexicans thumped Cuba 7-0. Canada’s next game is June 19 versus Mexico in Denver. It finishes up group stage play four days later against Cuba in Charlotte.

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Canada is 78th in the current FIFA world rankings. Martinique is unranked because it is not an official member of FIFA. The Reds lead the all-time series against Martinique, with two wins and two draws in five meetings.

The Gold Cup marks John Herdman’s debut as Canadian coach at a major tournament. Canada enters the competition having won five consecutive matches, and breezed through Concacaf Nations League qualifying with a perfect 4-0-0 record, so confidence in the camp is high.

But the team has hardly been tested since Herdman took over last year, having to content itself to beat up mostly on Caribbean minnows. Stiffer tests at the Gold Cup await, starting with their next match against Mexico, the top team in the Concacaf region and a side that has historically dominated Canada in international play. We’ll soon get a glimpse of what this side is made of under Herdman.

Herdman used a 4-3-3 formation on Saturday, with David flanked by Junior Hoilett and Alphonso Davies up top. The team is dealing with some defensive injuries, including to Doneil Henry, so Herdman dropped midfielder Atiba Hutchinson into the centre of defence, while fellow midfielder Mark Anthony-Kaye slotted in at left fullback. Martinique took advantage, using its speed on the counter to expose Canada’s makeshift back four. If not for the outstanding play of Borjan, Martinique could have easily taken the lead going into halftime.

The first half saw some physical play by both sides – Davies twice tumbled to the ground flowing crude tackles – and plenty of scoring opportunities. Borjan came up big early on, and again late in the half in coming up with a trio of great saves to deny Martinique forward Kevin Parsemain.

Not to be outdone, Loic Chauvet made stellar stops to deny Derek Cornelius and Kaye as Canada took control of the game and swarmed the Martinique penalty area.

Chauvet was at fault for the opening goal, though. He played a poor pass out from his box, allowing David to swoop in and pick the pocket of Martinique defender Daniel Herelle. David than showed great composure on the ball inside the box before unleashing shot that whipped past a helpless Chauvet.

David doubled Canada’s advantage shortly after the restart. Piette played a high ball over the top of Martinique, who were playing a high defensive line, and David latched onto it before bearing down on goal and beating Chauvet with a powerful shot. David, 19, now has six goals in five appearances for Canada.

Canada put the game beyond reach when Davies delivered a cross into the box at the far post and Hoilett managed to bundle it home. Captain Scott Arfield added a fourth, capping off a flowing move down the left side by taking a pass from Kaye and scoring on a side-footer from the top of the box past Chauvet.

NOTES: The 16 nations at the Gold Cup have been divided into four groups, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the quarterfinals to be played in Houston and Philadelphia on June 29 and 30… The semifinals are scheduled for July 2 in Glendale, Ariz., and July 3 in Nashville, followed by the final in Chicago on July 7, the same day as the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France… The United States are the defending Gold Cup champions.


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