2022 World Cup Qualifying – Second round, second leg Canadian men’s national team vs. Haiti June 15, 2021 — SeatGeek Stadium, Bridgeview, Illinois (9 pm ET/6 pm PT) Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca

The Canadian men’s national need just a win or a draw Tuesday night against Haiti to accomplish something they’ve failed to do for nearly a quarter-century — advance to the third and final round of Concacaf’s FIFA World Cup Qualifying. With the 1-0 win from the first leg in Port-au-Prince in their back pocket, thanks in large part to an early Cyle Larin finish, John Herdman’s group has the upper hand heading to their temporary "home" in Chicago for a decisive leg two. Saturday’s contest was a cagey affair with both sides often relying on physicality over finesse to make an impression on the day. Between their recent history — a dramatic 2019 Gold Cup quarterfinal where Haiti erased a Canadian 2-0 lead to come back and win 3-2 — and brutal playing conditions thanks to scorching temperatures and a dried out artificial surface, it should serve as no surprise there were some 32 fouls committed (16 apiece) and a combined five cautions handed out. With a draw or win of any kind good enough to see Canada through, the "home" team would surely welcome another low event game in the reverse fixture given their defensive record, having conceded just once in their past five qualifying matches. Lineup selection will be of high interest among Les Rouges supporters on Tuesday as there’s been no shortage of surprises over the past few weeks. Gambles such as deploying debutant Scott Kennedy and natural fullback Alistair Johnston in a back three against Suriname or swapping Samuel Piette for Mark-Anthony Kaye to face Haiti have paid off for Herdman in their last two tests. With the Larin goal to lean on, it will be interesting to see how Canada lineup tactically and from a personnel standpoint to earn a positive result. If they can get past the Haitians, Canada will advance to the “octagon” they’ll face off against five already qualified nations (Mexico, the United States, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Honduras) plus an additional two second-round winners to be determined. From there, the top-three automatically advance to the World Cup in Qatar while the fourth-placed side enters an inter-confederation play-off.

3 Pre-match thoughts

  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?: John Herdman once again leaned on Kennedy and Johnston at the back against Haiti — swapping veteran Doneil Henry for Steven Vitória to anchor the three-man unit. With so much talk of the tough conditions on Saturday and the quick turnaround between fixtures, is it fair to expect Vitória to put in another 90-minute shift again, or does Henry drawback in between the two youngsters? In either case, Herdman has to find a healthy balance between rotation and riding the hot hand for a pivotal return leg.
  • Chance for Davies/Laryea to capitalize on the counter: Like the Canadians, Haiti knows they’ll need to score in this one if they have any chance to advance to the third round. Much like in the Suriname match, opportunities will likely come as the minutes tick by and the opposition is forced to take risks and send bodies forward. While it’ll surely be another physically demanding test for Davies, Laryea, and every other Canadian player, if they can stay patient and keep the score at 0-0 for a prolonged period, their pace and directness from wide areas could be the answer to an insurance marker in this one.
  • Eustáquio a must-start: Perhaps the best performance in his young CanMNT career, Stephen Eustáquio was immense in midfield against Haiti in the first leg. Known for his defensive work rate and ability to provide deep-lying coverage for the backline, the 24-year-old’s ability to retain possession was a welcomed bonus to the shift he put in on the other side of the ball. As well as he meshed with Kaye on Saturday, don’t be shocked to see Piette draw back in for a more defensive approach.

Continue reading...