Tajon Buchanan and the Canadian National Team returned to action on Wednesday night as they hosted Panama in front of a raucous crowd inside BMO Field.
John Herdman and crew looked to bounce back after failing to pick up all three points in their previous match as they played to a 0-0 draw against Jamacia.
Although Canada was on the outside looking in, Wednesday’s match gave them a chance to take control of their narrative as they entered the match in fourth place with seven points as they trailed first place by four points. With the second-placed United States going up against Costa Rica and Canada taking on third-placed Panama, a Canadian win had the potential to see Canada rise to second place in the Octagonal standings.
It was a shaky start for the Canadian defense as Rolando Blackburn put Panama up 1-0 in just the 5th minute. As Michael Murillo drove the ball down the right side of the pitch, cut it back, and sent a cross inward to the center of the box. Blackburn was able to shake his defender as the cross came in and put a shot on net to the left past Crepeau and into the back of the net.
Jonathan David looked to get the Canadian offense rolling in the 8th minute as he looked to capitalize on a Panama turnover as he drove the ball towards goal. At the last second, David laid the ball off to David Wotherspoon, who attempted to get a shot onto the Panama goal but had the ball deflected away from net by a defender.
Canada’s earlier defensive mistake was rectified in the 28th minute as Canada positioned themselves for a third consecutive corner kick. As the kick sailed into the box, Tajon Buchanan leaped into the air and looked to get his head onto it. Buchanan was unable to get a head to it, but luckily for Canada, the ball took a deflection off Panama right-back Michael Murillo and into the back of the net.
A bad back pass from the Panamanian defense was nearly catastrophic for Panama in the 37th minute as goalkeeper Luis Mejía and right back Alphonso Davies entered a foot race to the ball as it trickled closer and closer to the Panama net. Luckily for Panama, Mejía was somehow able to beat out the pacy wing-back as he cleared the ball away from goal.
Tempers between both sides began to flare just before halftime as Panama earned a corner kick. As Édgar Bárcenas walked over to take the corner, Canadian substitute Doneil Henry was in the way of Bárcenas positioning for the corner. After attempting to plead with Henry to move, Bárcenas teammate Éric Davis was done playing games and attempted to move Henry. Davis’ actions caused the duo to get into a shoving match as Buchanan and Davies rushed over to cool tempers. They were also met with shoves as the remaining Panamanian and Canadian players on the pitch rushed over to deescalate things. Eventually, both benches would clear and rush over to the corner to get things under control.
Davies turned on the jets in the 66th minute as he darted to save a ball on the touchline just before it could roll out for a throw-in. Davies drove the ball up the pitch and into the box as he cut back and took a left-footed shot that skimmed past a diving Fidel Escobar and the keeper to give Canada a 2-1 lead.
Buchanan flexed his heading abilities in the 72nd minute as he leaped into the air on the left side of the box to catch a cross from Richie Laryea. Buchanan would flick his header to an unguarded back post, where it flew into the back of the net. After nearly scoring on numerous occasions, David found Canada’s fourth and final goal in the 78th minute.
A dominant showing from Canada’s offense propelled Team Canada to a 4-1 win over Panama. Wednesday’s result was massive for Canada. The 4-1 win over Panama propelled the Canadians to third place in the Octagonal standings.