Canada managed to get off to a winning start as expected in the CONCACAF Nations League A Group A, defeating Cuba 6-0 in Toronto and 1-0 in Georgetown in the Cayman Islands.
Impact captain Sam Piette played all 90 minutes of the win in Toronto, and sat on the bench in the return game a few days later, when James Pantemis also joined the Canadian squad. Bizarrely for both games John Herdman opted for not one but two goalkeepers on the bench. Cavalry’s Marco Carducci on each occasion, while former Impact custodian Max Crepeau took up a place in Toronto and Pantemis in Cayman.
The man they all have to displace however is Milan Borjan, the regular shot-stopper at Crvena Zvezda (Red Star Belgrade).
With some of the larger nations still to play, Canada’s Junior Hoilett of English Championship side Cardiff City is top scorer in Nations League play, as confirmed by his hat-trick in the opening game against the Cubans.
The other country in Canada’s group will of course provide stiffer opposition. USA will be the visitors to Toronto’s BMO Field on 15 October, a game the Canadians really must win if they have serious aspirations of progressing, before facing the Americans in the return game a month later.
It’s not an impossible ask either. USA will certainly be favourites, but the current US MNT is not of the vintage variety. Canada has something a little more than a puncher’s chance to at least establish victory on home soil.
And there could be an interesting sub-plot for Impact fans should Sam Piette start for Canada and Daniel Lovitz for the US.
Elsewhere in League A, Bermuda shocked World Cup finalists Panama, winning 2-0 in Ciudad de Panamá, a few days after losing 1-4 at home to the same opposition, and Curacao managed to get the better of Haiti, Canada’s Gold Cup conquerors. Curacao prevailed 1-0 at home and tied 1-1 in Port-au-Prince.
Martinique’s efforts are also worthy of mention in holding Trinidad & Tobago twice. After drawing 1-1 at home, they travelled to Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, securing a 2-2 tie after falling behind to goals by Minnesota United’s Kevin Molino and Ryan Telfer, who faced the Impact twice in the Canadian Championship earlier this season, playing for York9 FC.