Canada - Cavallini, Osorio, Davies celebration
USA Today

CanMNT World Cup Qualifying: Three things to watch ahead of crucial match-ups

Vancouver Whitecaps FC may be taking a short break from MLS play, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any footy to watch.

While the ‘Caps enjoy a break until June 18, Canada’s Men’s National Team is back in action this week as they hope to continue their quest towards qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The team will play two matches in a span of four days, with the first match coming against Aruba on Saturday, June 5 at IMG Academy Centre in Bradenton, Florida (kickoff at 5 p.m. PT) and the second match being hosted by Canada against Suriname on Tuesday, June 8 at SeatGeek Stadium in Chicago, Illinois (kickoff at 6 p.m. PT). Both matches are set to be broadcast live on OneSoccer.

These are Canada’s last two of four matches in CONCACAF’s First Round World Cup Qualifying Group B, from which only one nation in each group will advance to the next round of qualifying known as ‘The Hex’.

Entering Friday, Canada and Suriname are currently the top-two teams in Group B with a perfect six points from their two matches in March, with Canada sitting on top at first thanks to their +15 goals difference compared to Suriname’s +9 goals difference. Bermuda are third in the group with three points (+1 goal), while Aruba and Cayman Islands both went winless in March, remaining in the lower spots of the group. Suriname play Bermuda on Friday afternoon.

The Group B winner will face the Group E winner in a Second Round, head-to-head series on June 12 and 15. The winner from that Second Round then advances to the CONCACAF Final Round of World Cup Qualifying where eight nations are scheduled to begin play in the Fall of 2021. 

To get you set for Canada’s important matches against Aruba and Suriname, we break down three things to watch for this round of matches for the CanMNT.

CHAMPIONS GALORE

Fresh off the conclusion of the 2020-21 European footy season, many Canadians clutched up with plenty of silverware in the final weeks of the season.

‘Caps academy product Alphonso Davies won his third Bundesliga title with FC Bayern Munich, while fellow youngster Jonathan David finished his debut season with French side Lille as a Ligue 1 champion and the club’s second leading goalscorer in the league with 13 goals.

Meanwhile, CanMNT vets Milan Borjan and David Wotherspoon each helped their respective clubs win Cup doubles. Borjan led the way in goal for Serbian side Red Star Belgrade as they won the Serbian Super Liga and the Serbian Cup. Wotherspoon tallied three goals and five assists in St. Johnstone FC’s remarkable triumphs for the SFA Cup and the Scottish League Cup.

In addition, former Orlando City SC SuperDraft pick Cyle Larin finished as Besiktas’ leading goalscorer with 23 goals in all competitions as the club won the Süper Lig title and the Turkish Cup.

Now turning their focus towards the upcoming international matches, all five champions will be heavily motivated to turn their recent club glory into some international success with their country.

CANADA ‘CAPS

We’ve already mentioned Davies, who’s sure to be an instrumental part of Canada’s build-up play in these upcoming matches, but there’s plenty more familiar faces ‘Caps fans will recognize in Jon Herdman’s 24-man roster.

Starting up front, Lucas Cavallini is the only active ‘Caps player in the roster and will look to lead the line for Canada after scoring an eight-minute hat-trick against the Cayman Islands in his last appearance for the Red and White.

At the back, ‘Caps academy product Sam Adekugbe will look to make the left-back position his own during these upcoming games after a solid season with Norweigian side Vålerenga. The 26-year-old made 16 appearances for the ‘Caps after signing his first professional contract back in October 2013.

Another former ‘Caps player could line up beside Adekugbe for Canada’s upcoming games in the form of centre-back Doneil Henry, who scored four goals in 39 appearances with the Blue and White across two seasons. Henry, 28, is coming off his first season with K League 1 side Suwon Samsung Bluewings and will look to battle it out with fellow centre-backs Scott Kennedy, Frank Sturing and Steven Vitória for a starting spot in the middle of Canada’s defence.

Expect these ‘Caps alums to feature heavily in Herdman’s starting lineups across the next two matches, alongside some exciting young talent in New England Revolution winger Tajon Buchanan, Wolves winger Theo Corbeanu, and Pacos de Ferreira midfielder Stephen Eustáquio.

DISTINCT MATCH-UPS

Canada’s main objective in these next two games is to come out with maximum points and plenty of goals, in order to secure passage to the next round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying.

However, it doesn’t mean Aruba and Suriname won’t be up for the challenge to compete against a youthful yet heavily experienced CanMNT side.

Aruba is coming off a 3-1 victory over the Cayman Islands on Wednesday, June 2, so they’ll be motivated to continue their form into their matchup with the Red and White.

Joshua John, who plays his club football for Dutch side VVV-Venlo, scored a brace in the match and looked dangerous inside the area for Aruba.

At 32, don’t expect John to be running too much in behind. Instead, expect Aruba to try to whip balls into the area and provide the veteran with service into the area so he can get some shots on Canada’s net.

Flipping the page towards Suriname, this matchup could be Canada’s most important so far in their road to secure World Cup Qualification.

As mentioned before, Suriname enter Friday tied with Canada for points but sit in second due to the goal differential tiebreaker. That could change depending on the result of their match against Bermuda on Friday at 3 p.m. PT.

The Canadians have to be wary, as Suriname has plenty of experience all across the board on their roster.

At the back, Inter Miami fullback Kelvin Leerdam will look to get forward from right-back as he’s showed in his previous MLS seasons with the Seattle Sounders, helping them win an MLS Cup back in 2019.

Add in defenders Ryan Donk and Ridgeciano Haps, who are both coming off impressive seasons with Galatasaray and Feyenoord respectively, it could prove to be an interesting challenge for Canada’s attackers.

In the midfield, expect former Philadelphia Union man Roland Alberg to be a driving force for Suriname’s attack, as he’ll pop up in open pockets to spray the ball around the field or cause chaos at the top of the box with his dribbling and shooting capabilities.

Wingers Sheraldo Becker and Florian Jozefzoon can also cause problems on the dribble and will be looking to supply service into the box for striker Mitchell Te Vrede, who’s coming off a great season with Saudi Arabian side Al-Fateh scoring 12 goals in 20 appearances.

It’s sure to be an exciting two matches for the CanMNT against some interesting opponents, be sure to catch both matches live on OneSoccer.