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Halfway to A Hundred - Sam’s Half Century...

Some fun facts about Sam Piette’s 50 caps for Canada...

Jamaica v Canada: Quarterfinal - 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup
Canada’s #6, Sam Piette
Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

On Thursday evening Sam Piette became the second Quebecer in history (after Patrice Bernier) reach a half-century of international caps with Canada.

Here takes a look at some fun facts behind his accomplishment...

First cap
Way back on April 6 2012, aged only 17. At the time Sam was the third youngest ever to win a full international cap for Canada. He came on for Julian De Guzman with 4 minutes left on the clock in a 0-0 draw with the USA, arranged to commemorate the Centenary of The Canadian Soccer Association.

The Coaches
Sam has played under no fewer than 6 national team coaches ranging from Stephen Hart to John Herdman. Benito Floro selected him most times (22), but he’s seen most victories under Herdman (Bermuda was his tenth under the Englishman). The full list (including caps won) is as follows; Benito Floro (22), John Herdman (13), Octavio Zambrano (7), Michael Findlay (4), Colin Miller (3) and Stephen Hart (1).

Canada national team press conference
To date, Sam won most caps under Benito Floro, but that could all change under John Herdman.
Photo by Daniel Cardenas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Drawing a Blank
The first goal Canada scored in a full international in which Sam saw action was against Bulgaria in Ritzing, Austria - his 8th full cap! In his seven previous appearances Canada drew blank yielding two draws and five defeats, yet only 8 goals conceded (including three in one match against Australia). So defensively the unit was quite sound. There just weren’t too many enthralling games in those days.

Premier League Venue
That 0-3 defeat against Australia in October 2013 is the only cap Sam won at the ground of an English Premier League club. The match was played at Fulham’s Craven Cottage.

While on the subject of UK venues, he also appeared in one match at a Scottish Premier League venue, Easter Road, the home of Hibernian FC. The game in March 2017 ended in a 1-1 draw with Scotland.

Under a grey Scottish sky. Easter Road, Edinburgh, where Sam won his 30th cap in a 1-1 draw with Scotland

Caps at Home
Only 12 of Sam’s half-century of caps were earned on home soil, with a record of W9 L2 D1. The defeats came against Costa Rica and Mexico in Edmonton and Vancouver respectively, the draw against the USA in Toronto, Only once has Sam really played at home (Stade Saputo) for Canada, in a 2-1 win over Curacao in June 2017. It was also his first-ever appearance at the venue.

Most Frequent
Such are the quirks of football in the CONCACAF region and the almost monopoly the USA has when it comes to hosting Gold Cup, the country in which Sam has won most international caps is the one to our immediate south. Thursday’s game against Bermuda was his 20th cap earned in the US. Canada comes next on 12. Austria, where he won 4 of his 50 caps, is third in the list.

He’s played more times against El Salvador (4) than against any other nation. The non-CONCACAF countries he’s met most are Iceland and Mauritania (3 apps against each).

Winning streak
Sam has had a run of 8 successive caps in which Canada won every single game. The run began March 2018, in John Herdman’s first match in charge against New Zealand in Murcia, Spain (Canada won 1-0) and continued through to the famous 2-0 defeat of the USA at BMO Field in October 2019. The positive sequence ended the following month when the USA won the return game (4-1) at Exploria Stadium, Orlando.

The international competitions Sam has appeared in most are the World Cup and the Gold Cup (10 each). He also won 6 caps in the Nations League.

Biggest Crowd
The biggest attendance recorded in any of Sam’s matches for Canada was back in March 2016 when he came on as a second-half sub for Julian De Guzman at Estadio Azteca, Mexico City. Canada lost the World Cup qualifier 0-2 and 70,852 watched the game.

Emerging From The Bench
When coming on as a substitute the player who Sam has replaced most times is Julian De Guzman (5). He's also replaced Jonathan Osorio and Pedro Pacheco twice each.

2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Group B - Canada v Costa Rica
Another 6 - Julian De Guzman, a player who Sam looked up to during his early days and the one he most replaced when emerging as a substitute.
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Overall record
Sam’s overall record for Canada is W23 L15 D12. Goals Scored 87, Goals conceded 46.

He’s played in 32 different venues in 30 different cities against 29 different opponents.

Other Confederations
Sam has met 11 countries from other confederations outside CONCACAF; Bulgaria, Moldova, Iceland, Azerbaijan and Scotland (UEFA). Australia, Uzbekistan and South Korea (AFC). Mauritania and Morocco (AFCON). and New Zealand (OFC)

The only confederation he has not yet met a country from is CONMEBOL, our South American neighbours.

In closing...

At only 26, Sam has a reasonable opportunity to become the first Canadian to 100 caps. Remember for Canada to qualify for Qatar 2022, they could potentially play another 21 matches, and there’s a Gold Cup coming later this year.

The only active players with more caps than Sam are Atiba Hutchinson (85) and Tosaint Ricketts (61). And of the current squad, apart from Milan Borjan who is dead level with Piette on 50 caps (but 7 years older), only Jonathan Osorio (34) and Cyle Larin (32) come within 20 caps of the CF Montreal man.

Much depends how long Hutchinson can go on for of course. Although a more realistic target for Atiba is Julian De Guzman’s record number of Canadian caps which stands at 89.

Check out the latest, The Ball Is Round Podcast (Episode 21). Recorded Wednesday (24 March), the TBIR team discuss the National Team’s Road to Qatar, the U23s in Mexico, a return for Jason Di Tullio and Florida pre-season plans... Plus all the usual favourite features... including, Eve’s Time Machine... Don’t miss it!

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