Cyle Larin lets out a celebratory scream after scoring a goal.Canada Soccer by Martin Bazyl
Canada Soccer by Martin Bazyl

Canada sits atop Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers standings after defeating Mexico

Eight matches into the final round of the Concacaf Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Team Canada remains unbeaten and sits in position to qualify for its first men’s global soccer championship in 36 years.

Four wins, four draws, and not a single loss.

After defeating Mexico 2-1 on November 16, Canada has moved up to the top of the Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers standings with 16 points. The United States is in second with 15 points, and Mexico is now third with 14 points.

Cyle Larin scored both goals for Canada, the first coming at the end of the first half of play, and the second in the 52nd minute. Mexico managed to score in the 90th minute, leading to a tense five minutes of additional time. The visitors, however, failed to capitalize on this time to even the score.

Team Canada will face Honduras in the new year on January 27.

Here’s a recap of how Team Canada got to this point, and what it has to do to qualify for its first World Cup since 1986.

First Round

In June 2020, Concacaf announced a new format for World Cup qualifying. Over the course of three rounds, 35 teams would be eligible to go after just four spots in Qatar.

In the first round, Canada took care of business by going 4-0-0 against Suriname, Bermuda, Aruba, and Cayman Islands. In a round-robin format, they outscored opponents 27-1, winning every match in convincing fashion.

Second Round

The six teams that finished atop their groups were then paired for a head-to-head elimination round. Canada drew Haiti, and had to win on aggregate in a two-game home-and-away series.

After taking a 1-0 lead from the first match, Canada finally broke through in the second half of Game 2. An own goal from Haiti’s Josue Duverger provided a cushion before Canada added goals from Cyle Larin, and Junior Hoilett

Haiti’s Kevin Lafrance (13) defends against Canada’s Cyle Larin (17) during the first half of a World Cup qualifying soccer match Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Bridgeview, Ill. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

“After that goal, you could sense it. It was almost like the bottle top had been released for the guys and they could just drop their shoulders and let the talent start to flow,” Canada manager John Herdman said postgame.

Third Round

The five highest ranked teams in Concacaf awaited the three qualifiers in what’s known as the ‘Concacaf Octagonal.’ 

On September 2, Canada played to a 1-1 draw in Toronto against Honduras.

The first game featured a series of firsts. It was Canada’s first game on home soil since October 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions and 14,882 fans filled BMO Field in what was also Canada’s first World Cup qualifying match since 1998.

Canada’s highly anticipated match against the U.S. drew over 43,000 fans in Nashville, Tennessee. After falling behind by a goal to start the second half, Cyle Larin calmly buried a goal on a perfect pass from Alphonso Davies. It was Larin’s 13th goal of the entire qualifying tournament, and Canada came away with a 1-1 draw.

Canada got its first win of the tournament after dominating El Salvador, 3-0, in front of home fans in Toronto on September 8.

After away draws with Mexico (1-1), and Jamaica (0-0), Canada got their second win of the tournament in convincing fashion against Panama on October 13. In the fifth minute, Panama’s Rolando Blackburn netted a cross to quickly quiet the crowd. From that point Canada dominated in every facet. After tying the game in the 28th minute, Canada netted three goals in the span of 12 minutes in the second half to send BMO Field into a frenzy.

On October 13 in Toronto, Canada had a come-from-behind win, scoring four unanswered goals including a masterful end-to-end goal from Alphonso Davies that had fans and social media alike in awe at the world-class display.

The 4-1 victory allowed them to leapfrogg Panama to land in third place in the standings.

On November 12, Team Canada was back in action, this time in Edmonton for the first of two games. Canada took on Costa Rica and defeated them 1-0 to remain in third place. The lone goal of the game was scored by Jonathan David.

Upcoming

Canada will be back in action again on in the new year on January 27, before taking on Team USA on January 30. Following those two games, there will be four more left to go for Team Canada. Match play concludes in March 2022.

The top three teams will automatically qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.