The Canadian men’s soccer team put up a good fight in its opening game of the Pan Am tournament, but ultimately fell 4-1 to the heavyweights from Brazil.
Canada was making its first appearance in Pan Am men’s soccer since 1999, up against the four-time champions from Brazil. The under-22 competition features some of the top rising stars in the sport—and this game featured some of Brazil’s trademark fancy footwork and memorable single-word player names.
Brazil got the scoring started early. Just six minutes into the game, a cross from the left side found the foot of Luciano, who coolly slotted it between the legs of Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau from eight yards out.
Brazil almost doubled its lead 10 minutes later, when Dodo curled in a shot from close range, but Crépeau did well to dive and push it wide. The South Americans continued to control most of the first 20 minutes, but the home team eventually got settled and began to look threatening on the counterattack.
Canada nearly equalized in the 22nd minute when Hanson Boakai made a mesmerizing run down the right wing, eluding several defenders and feeding a cross to Molham Babouli, whose shot hit the post. Then in the 30th minute, Louis Béland-Goyette sent in a dangerous cross that just barely eluded a diving Caleb Clarke, who would have had a goal if he’d been able to make contact.
But just as the raucous home crowd in Hamilton felt a Canadian breakthrough coming, the Brazilians made the boys in red pay for their missed opportunities. Romulo made it 2-0 for Brazil in the 37th minute, when he launched a shot from the edge of the penalty area into the top corner.
The Samba Kings (or, perhaps, Samba Princes) added to their lead just two minutes after halftime, when Clayton got behind the Canadian defence and made it 3-0.
But the Canadian team didn’t give up, and gave the crowd something to get excited about in the 56th minute, when a long pass from Boakai gave Babouli a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, and he found the back of the net.
Canada had another great opportunity in the 80th minute when substitute Raheem Edwards had a breakaway of his own and was seemingly taken down by a Brazilian defender, but the referee did not award a penalty kick. Brazil then added some late padding to their lead, when Erik headed home a cross from Dodo in the 88th minute.
Despite the final score, the young Canadians will surely be heading into their next game—against Panama on Thursday—with plenty of confidence after a strong and encouraging performance against perhaps the best team in the tournament.