The dust has settled, the heart rates have stabilized and the boys in red have made the trip from Los Angeles to Houston. Can your health handle another Canada match?
Canada faces Jamaica Saturday night at 18:30 EST at BBVA Compass stadium in Houston, Texas (Sportsnet World/360, Fox Sports 2, Unimas). Both teams are coming off draws in their opening matches, but the differing levels of satisfaction with those results could not be greater in between these two. Canada drew an El Salvador team they were expected to (and should have) beat. Jamaica for their part drew CONCACAF and tournament favourites Costa Rica.
This means Canada will have to move through the gears rather quickly if they hope to stay in this tournament past the group stage, since the likeliest path in making it to the semifinal was based on taking three points from El Salvador. One can also hold out hope that Floro will play his best personnel in this match after starting Kyle Bekker and Adam Straith on Wednesday. Here’s how I hope they line up against Jamaica:
Out: Bekker, Straith, de Jong, Jakovic, Ricketts
In: Osorio, Teibert, de Guzman, Morgan, Ouimette
I won’t go into too much detail about the changes I’m hoping for, and many of them are explained in my match review from Wednesday, but here are a few notes:
- Jakovic wasn’t bad on Wednesday, but I don’t see him long term with Canada, and I currently have him on the same skill level as Ouimette, who is much younger and has greater upside.
- de Jong settled in the second half on Wednesday, but I don’t want to see what Jamaica will do to him. I’d rather have the quicker Morgan to deal with all that speed.
- Osorio and Teibert need to start every game for this team.
- I’m hoping de Guzman is fit. If not, put in Piette as an anchor and leave Ricketts in.
Jamaica’s collection of talent falls right into the middle of the pack for this tournament. This is a squad that can overreach and bring down a talented squad on a good day, or fall prey to their naiveté and underachieve against a lesser side. The question is: in Canada’s 3-1 victory at the National Soccer Stadium back in September, which Jamaica side did we see?
Jamaica sure looked like they could defend during last month’s Copa America. Although Jamaica lost all three of their matches to Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina, they succumbed by three identical 1-0 scorelines to these top South American sides. Then on Wednesday, they gave up two goals to a Costa Rica side that at times looked disorganized and uninterested.
Canada’s new path to the quarterfinal now requires taking three points from this game to make up for the two points dropped against El Salvador. The last thing Canada wants is to need points against Costa Rica. Jamaica will most likely be happy with anything but a loss, assuming they can take three points from El Salvador in Toronto in Tuesday. Such a scenario would give them five or seven points depending on Saturday’s result, which might just be enough to win the group.
Perhaps the best part of this match is that both sides believe they can win, and for neutral observers the potential is great. From a purely entertainment point of view, it’s worth tuning into this match to see how it all shakes out. If you’re reading this, however, chances are neutrality has nothing to do with your interest level. Someone pass me the blood thinner.