This Canada thing is real. I mean in soccer. I know that Canada is a real country. I’ve even been there once. Unless that was an elaborate hoax that involved constructing the entire city of Montreal for a weekend just to pull the wool over my eyes. In which case, that’s just impressive.
Canada beat Mexico last night 2-1, which leaves them top of the CONCACAF qualifying table with just over half the games played.
And much like their 1-1 draw in Mexico City, this was no smash and grab or accomplished by a hail mary of sorts. Mexico didn’t have a shot on target until over an hour into the match. Much like the U.S. did last Friday, Canada basically harassed the Mexican midfield and deprived it of any space to create anything. From there, Canada was able to spring on the counter in truly menacing fashion, which a team can do when it has Alphonso Davies and Tajon Buchanan at top gear. This only made Mexico even more jittery with the ball, not wanting to launch those two into Mach 5 again.
Canada’s first goal was an excellent summation of the whole night. Alistair Johnson snapped into midfield to intercept a pass and nick the ball off a Mexico midfielder, which left him plenty of space to launch a shot that Memo Ochoa, intent on eating shit throughout this window apparently, could only serve right up to the penalty spot for Kyle Laren to tap home. There was Canada, first to everything with energy and verve, and there was Mexico, flat-footed and unequipped.
Usually when Canadians are happy about something on my Twitter timeline I know I’m about to be really annoyed, but not this. I’ve immensely enjoyed this Canada team bursting onto the scene and the buzz they’re creating for the first time. Maybe it’s just watching Mexico lose again, descend into their usual classy way of doing so by bitching about everything and trying to start fights after the final whistle before running away when anyone is happy to take them up on it. Maybe there’s just something entertaining about watching 50,000-plus have the time of their lives in 16-degree temperatures.
Or maybe it’s getting to watch a fandom and team go through this for the first time. That’s not something we’ll get here stateside again, the first foray into the big time and the masses discovering it all together. We’re past that, and it’s the one thing you don’t get to experience multiple times as a sports fan. You get championships, big wins, rebuilds, discovering new players, and watching teams gel in cycles. But you only get that first taste once. I guess I’m just living vicariously.
That will change on January 30th when the Yanks go marching north, but for now, I’ll soak it in.