Canada’s Under-20 national team took a very early stumble that could prove fatal on their march toward the U-20 World Cup in Turkey, coughing up a pair of second half goals en route to a shock 2-1 loss to Cuba on Monday in their opening match of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico.
After a composed first-half display, Canada came unglued in the second period and were punished for their sins as Cuba’s Maykel Reyes showed his striker’s instincts. Substitute Stefan Vukovic answer back with a late goal for the Canadians, but it wasn’t enough to salvage a result.
Samuel Piette, heralded as one of the finest young talents in the Canadian program, must have been mortified as he watched his backpass get picked off by Reyes, who stormed into the area before beating a defender and finishing coolly past Maxime Crépeau in the 70th minute.
The situation got much worse for Canada eight minutes later.
A lofted Cuban corner to the back post was nudged back into the mix and it was Reyes, again, who was on the spot to dispatch the finish to the bottom left corner.
Canada pushed forward in an attempt to narrow the deficit and were eventually reward when Doneil Henry forced a save from Cuba’s Sandy Sánchez and Vukovic was on the spot to finish – but the goal proved little consolation.
Adding frustration to the affair for Canada will be the fact that they had looked the better team for vast spells of the first half.
Canadian playmaker Keven Aleman lived up to his reputation for attacking flair and creativity in the first period as he provided the spark to several bright moves.
Aleman had a chance of his own stopped and was also involved in a play that saw Michael Petrasso’s header cleared off the line.
Canada will next take on Nicaragua in its second of two group-stage matches on Friday. Cuba and Nicaragua will square off in Group B’s other fixture on Wednesday.
The top two teams from the group will advance to the all-important quarterfinal stage which will determine the four CONCACACAF nations that qualify for the FIFA U-2013 World Cup in Turkey.
1-0 Maykel Reyes 69'
2-0 Maykel Reyes 78'
2-1 Stefan Vukovic 90'