If Canada had a point to prove after a couple of frustrating performances, they certainly did their best to do so with a resounding 4-0 victory over St. Kitts and Nevis on Tuesday night in the final World Cup qualification match of the year.
Goals by Olivier Occean, Dwayne De Rosario, Josh Simpson, and Tosaint Ricketts lifted the Canadians to the win, which capped off a second-round group stage that Canada had clinched prior to the kickoff at BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario.
In stark contrast to the frustrating 0-0 draw between the two sides four days earlier in St. Kitts, this match was a much more open affair, as the Canadians looked to put some goals on the board for the first time after going scoreless in two matches.
Canada found lots of space up front and, through the hard work of forwards Ricketts and Simpson, created a few good runs into the attacking third in the opening stages.
Despite the Canadians’ newfound enthusiasm for going forward, it was actually the visitors who got the first real chance of the match, as they rang a shot off Canadian goalkeeper Kenny Stamatopoulos’ left post after a quick counter-attack at the quarter-hour mark.
That was pretty much all the Kittitians would muster offensively, as Canada came at their island opponents in waves for much of the first half. The pressure finally paid off in the 27th minute, when a De Rosario corner kick met Will Johnson in the St. Kitts area. The Real Salt Lake man quickly dished it off to Occean, who made no mistake in knocking it home from inside the six-yard box.
Canada doubled their lead nine minutes later after Ricketts was taken down in the area, which enabled De Rosario to step up to the spot and bury the ensuing penalty kick. The strike was the D.C. United man's 19th international goal for Canada, pulling him even with Dale Mitchell for the all-time lead in Canadian national team history.
Simpson then added a third just before the halftime whistle, heading in a well-placed corner from Johnson.
The Canadian pressure continued in the second half, with Simpson nearly adding to his tally on a 55th-minute header that just grazed the top of the St. Kitts crossbar. Ricketts did the same 10 minutes later, scuffing a free header wide-right after a nice build-up by his teammates. Substitute Nana Attakora also came close, firing a 20-yard shot low and to the left mere moments after entering the match.
The home side had to wait nearly the entire half for their sustained attack to be rewarded, however. It was not until the 88th minute that Ricketts, who had terrorized the Kittitian defense all match long, pounced on a juicy rebound to notch Canada’s fourth and final goal of the game.
27' - CAN - Olivier Occean
36' - CAN - Dwayne De Rosario (penalty)
45+2' - CAN - Josh Simpson
88' - CAN - Tosaint Ricketts
16' - SKN - Kareem Mitchum (caution)
54' - SKN - Akil Grier (caution)
70' - CAN - Ashtone Morgan (caution)
Kenny Stamatopoulos, Nik Ledgerwood (Nana Attakora 70’), Adam Straith, David Edgar, Ashton Morgan, Patrice Bernier (Jonathan Beaulieu-Borgault 81’), Will Johnson, Josh Simpson, Olivier Occean (Simeon Jackson 70’), Dwayne De Rosario, Tosaint Ricketts
Subs not used: Lars Hirschfeld, Mike Klukowski, Julian de Guzman, Ante Jazic
St. Kitts and Nevis
Akil Byron, Thirzen Leader, Kareem Mitchum, Kareem Harris, Joel Jeffers, Gerard Williams, Errol O'Loughlin, Keith Gumbs, Akil Grier (Tiran Hanley 58’), Ian Lake (Matthew Berkeley 58’), George Issac (Orlando Mitchum 64’)
Subs not used: Alexis Saddler, Joeski Williams, Mudassa Howe, Julani Archibald, Devaughn Elliott, Terrance Warde
Referee: Ricardo Cerdas Sanchez (CRC)
Assistant Referees: Warner Castro (CRC), Osvaldo Luna (CRC)
Fourth Official: Jeffrey Solis (CRC)
Weather: Clear and 50 degrees