5 takeaways from Canada’s World Cup loss to Croatia
The biggest match in Canadian men’s soccer history ended in despair as Canada was convincingly beaten 4-1 by Croatia and eliminated from the World Cup.
Here are five takeaways from the match:
HERDMAN GOT IT WRONG
Considering what he’s done with both the men’s and women’s soccer programs, John Herdman may arguably be the greatest coach in Canadian sports history.
He helped the women earn their first Olympic medal and the men qualify for their first World Cup in 36 years and the country will be eternally grateful for that.
Against Croatia, though, he got it wrong.
From the heat of the moment that led to “We’re going to go and F Croatia” to the tactics employed in the match that saw Canada’s midfield overrun, to leaning on Atiba Hutchinson in his 100th match for 75 minutes when it was clear the veteran was too slow for this matchup after 30, it’s hard not to see these decisions as pivotal in Canada’s elimination from the tournament.
The 22-year-old may still have some regret over the penalty miss against Belgium and how different things might look if he scored then, but Alphonso Davies gave Canada the perfect start against Croatia with a sublime header.
Canada’s first goal at a men’s World Cup just had to be scored by the Bayern Munich superstar who has led the way for Canadian men earning respect in this sport.
Davies has had several moments of brilliance in this World Cup and will now look to help his team play for Canada’s first point at a World Cup against Morocco.
BUCHANAN CONTINUES TO IMPRESS
There was news Friday that Europe’s top five leagues (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France) had developed interest in Tajon Buchanan, and through two World Cup matches, he has a case for being Canada’s best performer.
Playing on the right wing, Buchanan has been brave in taking on defenders and provided an inch-perfect cross that led to Davies’ goal.
While Buchanan’s interest from top clubs is only beginning, several of Europe’s best have been monitoring striker Jonathan David’s progress for over a year now after his success with French club Lille.
This was a huge opportunity to turn interest into commitment in terms of an offer in the coming January window, but teams may now have some doubts after he not only failed to score but mostly failed to present himself as a serious goal threat.
CANADA EARNED THESE LESSONS
While it is disappointing to see Canada crash out of the competition in this fashion, many did not envision the men even qualifying for this tournament.
As bitter as some of the lessons from these two losses are and whatever else is to come against Morocco, these are experiences that will be crucial in preparation for the 2026 event where Canada will be co-hosts.
Instead of going into that tournament as a deer in the headlights, these moments will have a young core that includes Davies, David, and Buchanan much better prepared in four years’ time.
STILL SOMETHING TO PLAY FOR
While Canada are now eliminated from the tournament with this loss, the men have never earned a point in the group stage and can look to do that in their final match against Morocco on Thursday.