The Canadian National Team looked to keep their form and bodies hot as they returned to a chilly Commonwealth Stadium Tuesday night to take on Mexico in what was perfectly named, Iceteca. Snow plummeted in Edmonton throughout the day before kickoff as temperatures -7 degrees Celsius (~20 degrees Fahrenheit).
Canada came into Tuesday’s match hot after securing a 1-0 win over Costa Rica on Friday. On the other hand, Mexico looked to bounce back after suffering their third defeat to their rivals, the United States, this calendar year. Canada came in with another chip on their shoulder as they secured a point against Mexico in their previous outing at Azteca on October 7th.
With the United States only securing one point in their matchup with Jamacia, Tuesday night’s match provided both Canada and Mexico the opportunity to move up to first place in the Octagonal standings with a win.
Revolution midfielder Tajon Buchanan would make his seventeenth appearance for Team Canada as he started against Mexico. Buchanan looked to add on to his previous four goals and three assists with the Canadian National Team.
Doneil Henry was not afraid to show some physicality in the opening minutes as he committed three fouls on El Tri in the opening 9 minutes of the game. Head referee Mario Escobar’s patience with Henry snapped in the 13th minute as he handed Doneil Henry the game’s first yellow card.
Buchanan looked to get the Canadian offense rolling in the 20th minute as he sent a through ball into the Mexican box. Buchanan’s ball was just too much for the trailing attacker in the cold environment as it rolled out for a Mexico goal kick.
Milan Borjan was quick to end Mexico’s offensive efforts in the 28th minute as he came off his line to intercept a cross from Jesús Gallardo’s cross into the box.
Buchanan sliced and diced through the Mexican defense in the 37th as he looked to find the opening goal. Buchanan would successfully maneuver through the defense and sent a shot on goal. Buchanan’s shot deflected out of play for a Canadian corner kick.
Canada’s first substitution came in the 37th minute as Steven Vitória would enter the match for Henry. With Henry on a yellow card, John Herdman did not want his Canadian side to be down to 10-men against a Mexico squad looking to bounce back after a disappointing result against the US.
Buchanan looked to catch Memo Ochoa off guard in the 42nd minute as he pulled back a shot from way beyond the box. Although the ball came nowhere near posing a threat on Mexico’s goal, you have to applaud Buchanan for trying to sneak a cheeky goal past Memo Ochoa.
Just as it looked the first half would end in a scoreless draw, Alistair Johnston and Cyle Larin were way ahead of El Tri. As Johan Vásquez attempted to clear the ball out of the defensive end to Orbelín Pineda, Johnston got in front of Pineda and pushed the ball towards the net. Johnston would send a shot from outside the box. Ochoa would dive and get his hands to the ball. Ochoa would cough the ball back into the play as Cyle Larin darted towards it. Larin’s shot would sneak past the right of Ochoa and into the back of the net, sending the freezing fans in Edmonton into a frenzy.
After Héctor Herrera’s foul on Stephen Eustáquio in the 51st minute, Canada lined up to take a free kick in a promising position in their attacking half. Eustáquio would stand over the ball to take the free-kick as he sent it careening towards the back post where it found an awaiting and open Larin. Larin was able to stick out his right foot and made clean contact with the ball as it sailed into the back of the net. Larin and the Canadian’s ran to the corner and celebrated with the fans as they took a 2-0 lead over Mexico.
Roberto Alvarado looked to pull one back for Mexico in the 59th minute as he sent a flicked cross onto Canada’s goal. Borjan was all over it as he dove and grabbed a hold of the ball.
Jesús Corona looked to get the Mexico offense rolling in the 66th minute as he sent a cross into the Canadian box. Corona’s cross would find Roberto Alvarado inside the box. Alvarado would not get all of the ball as it slowly dribbled towards the goal as Milan Borjan would easily pounce onto the ball.
Larin looked to extend Canada’s lead in the 69th minute as he sent a ball forward to Alphonso Davies. Davies would race towards goal as he looked to get onto the ball. Larin’s ball was just too long as Memo Ochoa would come off his line to clear it away.
Larin’s productive night for Canada would come to an end of the 73rd minutes as he would be replaced by Jonathan David.
Raúl Jiménez looked to avoid the shutout as he sent a shot from just outside the 18-yard-box. Jiménez’s shot would just sail over the bar and out for a Canadian goal kick.
Canada’s final substitutions came in the 88th minute as Jonathan Osorio and Lucas Cavallini would replace Davies and David.
Just as it looked like El Tri would suffer a second 2-0 loss in the same week, Héctor Herrera had other plans. A perfectly placed pass from Jorge Sánchez would allow Jesús Corona to send a cross into the Canadian box, where Héctor Herrera leaped into the air and sent a header into the back of the net.
Herrera’s late goal would only be a consolation goal as Canada secures a 2-1 win. Tuesday’s win was the first time Canada had defeated Mexico in all competitions since 2000 and was their first World Cup Qualifying win over El Tri since 1976.
A crucial three points for Canada as they move into first place of the Octagonal standings as the November portion of qualifying comes to an end.
Canada has some time to rest up and recover as their next Octagonal match-up isn’t until January 27th as they take on Honduras.