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Canada hammers Martinique 4-0 to begin 2019 Gold Cup

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19-year-old Gent striker Jonathan David is your trivia answer of the summer, scoring the opening goals of the 2019 Gold Cup as Canada comfortably downed Martinique 4-0 behind the youngster’s brace.

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The youngster scored his fifth international goal in just his fifth cap, continuing a hot start to his Canadian career. The winning moment came off a mistake at the back as Martinique goalkeeper Loic Chauvet misfired a pass to defender Daniel Herelle and David pounced, producing a delicious finish that saw him keep his cool to get Chauvet on the ground before clipping into the back of the net.

Martinique did not go down without a fight, as Kevin Parsemain missed a trio of great chances all just before halftime. The first saw him take a Kevin Fortune cross and toe-poke just wide left with the goal gaping, and moments later Atiba Harris was caught in possession leading to a Parsemain breakaway, but Milan Borjan saved low on the shot. Lastly, in first-half stoppage time, Parsemain put Canadian defender Derek Cornelius on his rear but his shot again was saved by Borjan at the near post.

In the second half Canada appeared to come out defensive-minded, and they struck on a ball over the top that completely fleeced the Martinique back line. Davis flashed by the high defensive line and latched onto the long ball from Samuel Piette, firing cooly past Chauvet yet again to put Canada up 2-0.

The floodgates opened after the hour mark, with Junior Hoilett and Scott Arfield both finding the back of the net with the Martinique back line all over the place. The rest of the match featured David going for his hat-trick, dragging a late shot wide left from distance looking for the milestone. Canada secured a solid start to the tournament just hours after the country’s women played to victory over New Zealand out in France at the World Cup.

Canada coach Herdman aims for 2022 World Cup

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We haven’t talked about 2022 World Cup qualifying in some time, as the focus was on the USMNT finding its coach, then Gregg Berhalter implementing his style, and soon winning the 2019 Gold Cup to ensure a spot in the 2021 Confederations Cup.

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There should be a ton of focus on the U.S. bounce back for any number of reasons, especially considering that qualifying for the next World Cup may be the last time the U.S. has to truly worry about its berth (unless Gianni Infantino gets his way and miraculously implements an expanded field for 2022. Then Berhalter and Co. are set already).

So with three-and-a-half spots available, it’s of-note any time a manager admits his national team side should earn one of those berths in Qatar.

Today, we’re talking about the biggest underachievers in CONCACAF for the better part of the last 20 years, and that’s Canada. The Canucks are led by John Herdman, and he’s bringing a mentality of expectation that’s been lacking from the unit in some time (although there were strides under Benito Floro) From Sportsnet.ca:

“We don’t have excuses. I don’t want to be that guy making them. At the end of the day if we don’t qualify for [2022], it’ll be a disappointment. To put that level of expectations on the team is critical. The team wants that, they’re ready for it. They know it’s now or never for many of them,” Herdman said.

“So, when you say, ‘how do you know it’s going to happen?’, we have to make it happen. But more importantly, we have to believe, and I think that belief is there from the men who are going to be leading the charge.”

He also, albeit not in so many words, admitted that the Canadians have underperformed in recent cycles.

First of all, no one is catching Mexico this cycle. El Tri are in something akin to a golden generation, and have the following stars in their prime: Wolves’ Raul Jimenez, Diego Reyes, and Hector Herrera, with Hirving Lozano getting there and several veteran leaders on the end of their elite window but still easy CONCACAF stars (Memo Ochoa, Hector Moreno, Andres Guardado).

So that’s 2.5 half spots.

Canada is ranked 78th in the world by FIFA and is 68th in the Elo Ratings. That puts them 8th and 7th amongst CONCACAF sides, as El Salvador is much lower in Elo than FIFA (and Elo is superior as an analytical tool. We’ve placed the chart at bottom).

Considering that the USMNT historically underperformed in 2018 qualification and Panama lucked into the tournament via a goal that did not cross the line, and it’s easy to predict a reverse in fortunes for the those two, but can Canada get in the Top Three (or the playoff spot) by moving ahead of 2-3 of the U.S., Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Jamaica (Considering Canada a contender requires they pass El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago).

If anything, the time is now for this group of Canadians, considering they’ll host the 2026 tournament with the U.S. and Canada. Les Rouges have vastly under-performed at two of the last three U-20 World Cups since giving the Americans a scare in the 2013 Round of 16. But they had a quality 2017 Gold Cup, and missed the 2018 World Cup qualifying Hex because Mexico had nothing to play for in the final game and drew Honduras.

Canada is still very low on overall depth and has a generation of player-first entitlement to overcome, but has CONCACAF star power in Alphonso Davies, Junior Hoilett, Scott Arfield, Cyle Larin, and Jonathan Osorio, a UEFA Champions League goalkeeper in Milan Borjan, a rising Liverpool teen in Liam Millar and the wild card of Barcelona property and former Montreal forward Ballou Tabla. Not to mention, the new and promising Canadian Premier League will make it easier for Herdman to scout potential next level stars.

Canada is currently en route for a Pot 3 ranking for the fourth round of World Cup qualifying (the last stop before the Hex). It would be drawn into a group where the main combatants will be one of Mexico, the USMNT, and Costa Rica, and one of Jamaica, Honduras, or El Salvador.

It’s not crazy at all to think Canada would edge Honduras and El Salvador for a top spot, and a group with Costa Rica where points will be live in those two fixtures. And the Canucks have a tactical boss with a chance to outwit another manager.

Hot take: Los Ticos are still long on experience but a bigger question in terms of depth and youth, missing three of four U-20 World Cups. That tournament shouldn’t be the lone arbiter of future goodness, but it’s something.

Even given the 2018 qualifying embarrassment, I fully expect the Yanks to qualify for 2022 in Qatar. Honestly, I think Jamaica might be the third-best group in terms of talent, with Costa Rica and Honduras interesting for different reasons. To borrow from the other football, Panama out-kicked its coverage and should be considered no certainty for the Hex. T&T is tricky at home. If Canada can be, there’s a really good chance they make the Hex.

WATCH: Rangers, Canada midfielder with vicious red card challenge

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Gross.

Canada and Glasgow Rangers midfielder Scott Arfield was sent off this weekend for a terrible sliding challenge on Hearts of Midlothian goalkeeper Zdebek Zlamal.

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Steven Gerrard‘s men led 2-1 in the 72nd minute when Arfield, 30, charged hard toward Zlamal, who was in the process of controlling a ball on the goal line.

Zlamal got hold of the ball a second before Arfield slid hard into the ball, going through it to connect with the goalkeeper’s face.

Rangers held on to win, taking a single-point lead on rivals Celtic atop the table (though the Bhoys have a match-in-hand).

There’s really no defense for it, as it’s going to be called every time. Any player who’s been anywhere near an attacking third is cognizant of the goalkeeper’s protection.

Maybe the former Burnley man just didn’t care, hopeful of that third goal to put away Hearts.

The Scottish midfielder with 13 caps and a goal for Canada is sure to miss time after the incident.

Burnley 1-0 Watford: Clarets sink 10-man Hornets

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  • Watford goes down a man
  • Arfield puts Burnley in front
  • Hornets kept it looking 11v11

Scott Arfield scored after Marvin Zeegelaar had been sent off for Watford, as Burnley ground out a 1-0 win at Turf Moor on Saturday.

Burnley stayed even with Tottenham and Arsenal on 28 points before the Gunners’ Sunday match, while Watford falls six points back of the trio.

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Chris Wood didn’t get full muster on a 13th minute bounding shot that Heurelho Gomes stooped to collect in the six.

Gomes was called upon again when Johann Berg Gudmundsson swerved a free kick over the wall and toward the keep’s near post.

Watford went down a man following a straight red to Zeegelaar, who went hard and low into Steven Defour. A yellow for sure, but harsh for a red.

Richarlison thought he’d won a penalty against the run of play in the 44th minute, but no whistle came in the Hornets favor.

Arfield put the Clarets ahead moments later, with the Canadian international slotting low inside the far post off a fine team goal.

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Liverpool 1-1 Burnley: Clarets frustrate Reds

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  • Liverpool earn 1000th PL point
  • Arfield scores from Wood
  • Can cues up Salah for fifth

Canadian national teamer Scott Arfield put Burnley ahead, and a Mohamed Salah goal was all Liverpool could muster in a disappointing 1-1 Saturday draw with the Clarets at Anfield.

Liverpool sits seventh with eight points, while Burnley is sixth with a one-goal advantage in goal differential.

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Liverpool was lively early, and Philippe Coutinho didn’t look bothered by his long lay off.

Salah came close to winning an 18th minute penalty off James Tarkowski, but the whistle did not arrive at Anfield.

Yet it was Burnley who went ahead, with Arfield running onto a Chris Wood flicked cross and hammering his shot past Simon Mignolet in the 28th minute. The defending was again primarily responsible for an opposition goal, with the center backs sucked to Wood.

The Reds were level through Salah within three minutes, as Emre Can opened the lid on Burnley’s back line and the Egyptian took the ball to his left before firing a low shot across his body and past Clarets’ backstop Nick Pope.

Would there be history for Burnley? The Clarets had not taken a point from Liverpool since returning to the PL.

Joel Matip saved a late chance from Burnley, and Mignolet made another stop.

Pope made a terrific save on Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Dominic Solanke cranked one off the bar from in-tight moments later.

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