Gold Cup Quarterfinals: Time for John Herdman, Canada to Show Their Hand

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John Herdman
CHARLOTTE, NC - JUNE 22: Defender Doniel Hanery #15 (L) and Head coach John Herdman of Canada attend press conference of Canada National Team at Bank of America Stadium on June 22, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)

Editorial (June 28, 2019) – The 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup knockout stage begins this weekend. For the first time since 2007, Canada hope and expectation of making the semifinals. Manager John Herdman has a talented young core that took care of business against minnows in the group stage. Now it’s time to play well against better opposition.

Gold Cup Quarterfinals: Time for John Herdman, Canada to Show Their Hand

The Canucks went 2-0-1 in the group stage, smashing Martinique and Cuba by a combined 11-0. In what was essentially a home game for Mexico, Canada lost 3-1 and didn’t look great for long stretches.

John Herdman has rotated his squad and tried a few things in the group stage to try to get a result. His team was clearly playing for a scoreless draw against El Tri. He’s also intentionally not gone full guns blazing in anticipation for the knockout games, where his side will ultimately be judged.

“We didn’t have some weapons on the field at times that we’re hoping to use in a semifinal. We didn’t want to show everything. Tonight we lost, but we learned, and we learned a lot,” John Herdman said after the game against Mexico.

Canada took some criticism for their approach to the Mexico game and because of the result. Wins in their other two games were expected. The scorelines were comfortable if nothing else.

Up next, they’ll play a less-talented Haiti team. A first choice Starting XI team from Canada should be able to beat them by multiple goals. If the advance, they’ll take on the winner of Mexico and Costa Rica.

This team includes Jonathan David, Alphonso Davies, and Cyle Larin. This team has established MLS and European players and a group of young talent that are growing into their roles with the national team and some big leagues in Europe. Anything less than a good performance, result, and scoreline will be a disappointment.

Herdman has expressed a desire to not show all their cards and what they can do during the group stage. He’s acknowledged some areas where the young core have made mistakes and are learning and he’s still learning how to make adjustments during games.

This weekend is do or die, as will every game left in Canada’s Gold Cup. It’s time for this young talent to show they can be a team against a beatable opponent. And then do it in a semifinal they will not be favored in. That’s something Canada’s last generation rarely did. If these players are different, if Herdman has an Ace up his sleeve as he’s alluded to, it’s time for Canada to show it.

First against Haiti. Then in a semifinal (and possibly beyond).

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