As the Canadian men’s national team prepares for its Concacaf Nations League matches against Cuba in September, head coach John Herdman still has one eye on the future of Canadian soccer.
Two centrepieces of the present and future for the men’s program are Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David. Both players are on the latest squad, and David will be especially keen on carrying his hot form from the Concacaf Gold Cup into these two Nations League games.
The 19-year-old forward won the Golden Boot as the top scorer at the event with six goals. He beat out the likes of Mexico’s Raul Jimenez, who plays his club football with Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League, en route to claiming the award.
Davies, meanwhile, is contracted to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich and is trying to crack the starting 11 on a regular basis in his first full season with the team.
Speaking on Sportsnet 590 The FAN’s Prime Time Sports on Wednesday afternoon, Herdman said that Davies’ influence on the younger generation could pay dividends down the road for Canadian soccer.
“I have a 15-year-old son and I understand the impact he is having on this younger generation,” said Herdman.
“They all follow him on Instagram, they are checking in … When you see a kid three years older than you, able to achieve what he’s achieved, it can only set the bar higher for Canadians. That is what is starting to become evident for these young people.
However, Herdman also indicated that David’s breakthrough this summer should be an example for young players as well.
“Everyone knew about Jonathan behind the scenes,” Herdman said.
“But becoming the leading goal-scorer ahead of all the Mexican and U.S. players was something to marvel at, really.”
More than anything, however, the 2026 World Cup might be the No. 1 driver for any young Canadian player’s aspirations of becoming a professional footballer.
“I think there is more to come,” Herdman stated.
“Alphonso certainly led the way in that, but I think there is a lot more to come and it will be part of the norm for our country in the next six years, particularly with the World Cup being landed here. A 2026 World Cup, I think, is giving young Canadians that extra impetuous to push on and go and search for a football career.”
Canada will host Cuba in the first of two Nations League matches on Sept. 7 at BMO Field. The two teams will meet again on Sept. 10 in the Cayman Islands due to ongoing renovations at the national stadium in Cuba.
You can listen to the full interview with Herdman below.