The game was already a disaster for Canada before stoppage time, with Martinique — sometimes pronounced by its full name: not even a FIFA member, Martinique — dominating one of the Gold Cup’s three automatic entrants. Though Canada were keeping more of the ball, they were also on their way to being outshot 27-8 by the French island’s team.
Then came stoppage time, when 37-year-old Fabrice Reuperné launched a rocket from 25 yards, one that may have doomed Canada’s chances of being one of the eight teams that advance from the 12-nation opening round. Just before the 93-minute mark, a left-footed volley of a clearance bounding out of the Canadian area gave goalkeeper Milan Borjan no chance to prevent a shocking opener to this year’s Gold Cup:
Martinique may have only have a population of around 403,000, but nine of their squad’s 23 players make their living off the island, playing in leagues such as France’s Ligue 1 (Kévin Olimpia), Ligue 2 (Olivier Thomert), Spain’s Segunda Division (Jean-Sylvain Babin, Grégory Arnolin), England’s League One (Yoann Arquin), and Major League Soccer (Frédéric Piquionne). While that doesn’t necessarily make them a great side, it does speak to the implied notion that something named Martinique can’t field a decent squad.
All the same, Canada didn’t just lose to Martinique. This wasn’t an against the run of play, one-off goal that made the final score uncharacteristic of how the game was played. The Canadians were decidedly second best, a humbling experience for a team that, while having struggled in recent World Cup qualifying campaigns, has a paved road into this competition.
Compounding the embarrassment: This result puts Canada on track to finish last in Group A. Without an upset over Mexico or Panama, Canada’s going home after three games, with a history set to reflect they not only lost to Martinique, they finished behind them in Group Play.
Scott Nicholls and Otis Earle welcomed Bob Bradley
to their “Beyond The Pitch” podcast to discuss his time coaching the Chicago Fire, the Fire’s current squad, how MLS has evolved, the new generation of players coming into the USMNT and more.
Perhaps most interesting is Bradley talking about previous losses with stinging emotion that sounds like they happened yesterday, including the 2000 MLS Cup.
[ MORE: Latest Men In Blazers pod ]
Since being fired from Swansea City after less than 100 days, Bradley has been linked with the Norway national team gig as well as a return to Los Angeles. Keep up with the U.S. coach here, and check it out:
Every dog has its day, and the three lower-tier clubs remaining in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are hoping for a second.
Miami FC, Sacramento Republic, and FC Cincinnati enjoyed wins over Major League Soccer sides in the fourth round, and now get further MLS tests in this week’s fifth round.
[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]
Once FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids tangle on Tuesday, attention turns to the underdogs on Wednesday. Who has the best chance to advance?
- Miami FC vs. Atlanta United — Playing an MLS expansion side at Riccardo Silva Stadium will give Miami a bit of confidence, and this is also a side with some good experience in pressure spots. Whether it’s manager Alessandro Nesta or MLS vets Michel, Gabriel Farfan, and Michael Lahoud, MFC won’t shy away. Upset chance: Solid.
- FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire — The visitors are having a heck of a season in MLS and don’t have a group which will be worried by a huge crowd, but there’s no debating that 25,000-plus in Southern Ohio give FCC more than a puncher’s chance. Upset chance: Improbable, but possible
- LA Galaxy vs. Sacramento Republic — If LA puts something close to its best side out there, Sacramento will struggle to stop its attack. Upset chance: Long shot.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, New England hosts DC United, Philadelphia visits the Red Bulls, Seattle is off to San Jose, and Houston hosts Sporting KC.
Since returning from a loan at Rayo Vallecano, Saul Niguez has been a somewhat under the radar star at Atletico Madrid.
Coming off his best season with Atleti, the 22-year-old Saul is making an even bigger name for himself at the U-21 EURO this summer.
Spain’s Saul scored a hat trick past Gianluigi Donnarumma and Italy on Tuesday, and the second goal was laced with venom.
Getting onto the ball from 30-plus yards out, Saul smashed his shot with enough power that the ball barely had occasion to rotate.
Saul is under contract at the Vicente Calderon through 2022, and has three caps for Spain’s senior team, too. He was rated Atleti’s third-best performer by WhoScored this season.
Men In Blazers are back with their latest podcast, and the boys are hitting club soccer here and abroad as well as Bruce Arena’s men in the red, white, and blue.
Rog and Davo break down transfer window activity, rumored and real; get a heat check on the USMNT heading into the Gold Cup; and recap the (Ray) Hudson River Derby.
All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:
[ Subscribe to the podcast OR to update your iTunes subscriptions ]
[ Click here for the RSS feed ]