It may not be pretty, but it works. That trope has been applied to all sorts of entities, from old cars to sports teams — and most certainly, a 1-0 win over Cuba on Tuesday night in CONCACAF Nations League play wasn’t Canada’s prettiest display of the last few years. But whether it’s a national team in a continental competition or a pro club vying for league glory, at the end of the day, it’s all about the results. Beauty is nice, narratives are nicer, but points are nicest of all. So sure, Canada got its six points out of six from Cuba, and we got a few answers to my national-team-themed Wonders from last Wednesday. But now, we must ask: what’s next?
What do these two wins actually mean?

Strictly speaking, they’ve endowed Canada with six points and a plus-7 goal differential through two of four games. But if you’re asking “like, what do they mean, man?” — well, that depends which rabbit hole you want to go down. You could extrapolate from the 6-0 home win on Saturday that Canada is indeed set to loot and plunder their way through CONCACAF for the foreseeable future. You could extrapolate from the 1-0 road win on Tuesday that the team is a bunch of frauds, barely able to scrape past a Cuba team that’s utterly abysmal these days. Or, you could realize we’re right where we suspected we’d be — with the upcoming games against the U.S. (one in October, one in November) being the true deciders of Canada’s fate not just in Nations League but, as it turns out, World Cup qualifying. And thus these two games meant… well, not much. It would have been nice to put a few more past Cuba for cushioning purposes. But the requirement, all along, was going to be getting results against the Yanks. Speaking of which… RELATED READING: Canada blanks Cuba in Nations League || Canadian player report card
How’s the U.S. doing?

Um…. you’re just talking about their men’s national soccer team, right? Anyway, old-timey Canadian fans love to wax nostalgic about the days when the Americans were in the doldrums and we were the bosses of northern North America —t hat is, a span of a few years in the mid-to-late 1980s. The Americans’ sporadic stumbles in recent years, combined with the surge of a new generation of Canadian talent, have seemingly presented the possibility of those halcyon days returning. But let’s pump the brakes about 40 per cent While a 10-man Canada was beating Cuba 1-0 on Tuesday night, the Americans — with a decently young side and without Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Christian Pulisic — played South American heavyweights Uruguay to a 1-1 draw in a friendly. Of course, they also lost 3-0 to Mexico over the weekend, so, it’s not all smiles and sunshine. It’ll surely be all hands on deck for both sides in October and November; the one advantage Canada may have is that the U.S. will play two games in both of those international windows, splitting their efforts between Canada and Cuba. Canada won’t be the favourites; but then again, what else is new?
How’s that back line going to look?

I wondered about this last week, though at that time I was more concerned with the fullback position. The arrival of Richie Laryea and the return of Sam Adekugbe are promising developments on that front. However, Doneil Henry’s sending off on Tuesday means Derek Cornelius will be in search of a new central defensive partner for that key first matchup with the States. Will Steven Vitoria step up as the difference maker that Canada fans long dreamed he would be? Or could coach John Herdman turn to another veteran — possibly Forge FC’s David Edgar — as the near-term solution?
Did J-Dave score the nicest CanMNT goal we’ve seen?

While long-range blasts and intricate bits of footwork tend to linger longest in the soccer fan’s memory, let’s all take a moment to appreciate how many elements went into Jonathan David’s goal against Cuba on Saturday. There was the nifty first touch, the nifty second touch, the patience, the poise and, ultimately, the finish. When’s the last time we saw a Canadian national-team goal with that much individual quality wrapped into one neat little package? Given how much well-deserved hype the 19-year-old has received so far, it’s mind-blowing to remember that his senior-team debut came just over one year ago, on Sept. 9, 2018. Now, he’s halfway to being Canada’s all-time top scorer. How much more will we have added to his highlight reel in another year’s time?
Is it do-or-die time for FC Edmonton in Al Classico?

With a pair of CPL clashes on Wednesday night, and another one on Thursday, there could be some big movement in the league table by the time the weekend rolls around. But the stakes are highest for FC Edmonton, who’ll be hosting the latest incarnation of Al Classico against Cavalry FC. The Cavs will be missing top goalkeeper Marco Carducci, who’s been away with the national team; but let’s recall that Niko Giantsopoulos held firm in a 0-0 draw the last time the two teams met. I’m the sort of person who absolutely loathes the misuse of phrases like “must-win”. But with just over a month left in the Fall season and a resurgent Pacific FC (who are hosting a fading York9 FC on Wednesday) breathing down their necks, Edmonton realistically has to find a way to take this one, if they’re to maintain any hope of reaching the CPL Championship. Sure, even if they can nab three points, the Eddies will still need lots of help to catch Forge FC. But a win would push Edmonton past their provincial rivals from Calgary in the standings — and, should it hold to season’s end, that could be a sweet victory in and of itself.

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