At long last, the group that most of New England has been waiting for!
TURNER! BUCHANAN! HERIVAUX! DULYSSE! If only the Revs had signed a Martinique international in preseason, we’d have a full group represented.
Anyway, this is going to be the group I’m most excited to watch for a variety of reasons, and not because of all the New England Revolution tie ins. Matt Turner has a chance to solidify his spot as the United States #1 goalkeeper, Tajon Buchanan gets another opportunity to establish his spot with Canada’s senior side, and Haiti and Martinique are a couple of my favorite CONCACAF sides. Haiti is coming off a semifinal appearance last tournament and I get a chance to play one of my favorite Gold Cup highlights that is Martinique legend Fabrice Reuperne. Sorry in advance Canada.
So can the two group favorites in the USA and Canada setup a final match for the Group B title where Matt Turner stonewalls Tajon Buchanan six times giving him a shush after every save or can the underdogs wreak some havoc we know they’re capable of?
Sunday, July 11 (Kansas City)
Canada vs. Martinique, 6:30 p.m. (FS1)
USA vs. Haiti, 9 p.m. (FS1)
Thursday, July 15 (Kansas City)
Haiti vs. Canada, 7:30 p.m. (FS1)
Martinique vs. USA, 10 p.m. (FS1)
Sunday, July 18 (Kansas City and Frisco, TX)
USA vs. Canada, 5 p.m. (Fox)
Martinique vs. Haiti, 5 p.m. (FS2)
Head Coach: John Herdman (ENG)
FIFA Ranking: 70 Nickname: The Canucks
Qualification: Nations League A Flight, Group A 2nd Place
Appearance: 15th / Best Finish: Champions (2000)
Roster Breakdown: 13 MLS, 2 England, 2 Portugal, 1 Germany, 1 South Korea, 1 Scotland, 1 Turkey, 1 Unattached
Recent Matches: Won 1st Rd WCQ Group B (4-0-0 record, 12 pts), Won 2nd Rd aggregate series vs Haiti 4-0
Player To Know: Tajon Buchanan, F-M/New England Revolution (MLS/USA) - 4 Int’l Appearances, 0 goals – As if we weren’t going to mention the Revs/Canada U23 breakout star. Tajon might not have a senior level goal but he’s going to be a capable option for Canada in this tournament.
Player To Watch: Cyle Larin, FWD/Besiktas, 37 Int’l Appearance, 15 goals – With Jonathan David and Alphonso Davies out with injuries, the former UConn Husky might be the front man in the Canadian attack for this tournament.
This is a much improved Canada side from heck, even five years ago, but this isn’t Canada’s best squad either. They’re short starting keeper Milan Borjan and several key attackers but unlike years past the Canucks have far more depth and talent to lean on. At full strength they might be group favorites but they should still make the knockouts and likely the semis as well.
Head Coach: Jean-Jacques Pierre (HAI)
FIFA Ranking: 83 Nickname: Les Grenadiers
Qualification: Nations League A Flight, Group D 3rd Place, Gold Cup Qualifying Winners
Appearance: 8th / Best Finish: Semifinals (2019)
Roster Breakdown: 10 Domestic/France, 5 USA (MLS/USL), 1 Portugal, 1 Cyprus, 1 Kazahkstan, 1 Canada (CPL), 1 Ecuador, 1 Romania, 1 Belgium, 1 Denmark
Recent Matches: WCQ 2nd Rd Agg. Series L to Canada 0-4, GCQ W’s vs Saint Vincent and Grenadines 6-1, Bemuda 4-1
Players To Know: MID Zachary Herivaux and DEF Francois Dulysse – A shoutout to our New England ties in former homegrown Herivaux and current Revs II defender Dulysse.
Player To Watch: FWDs Duckens Nazon and Frantzdy Pierrot, Combined 61 Appearances and 33 goals – Haiti’s strike partners up top are a legit threat and should give every team in this group absolute fits.
Haiti canceled its training session & pre-match news conference yesterday because 5 players tested positive for COVID-19.— Jon Arnold (@ArnoldcommaJon) July 11, 2021
Les Grenadiers are set to miss out on several key players v #USMNT, per Le Nouvelliste, but for now sounds like it's still game on. https://t.co/vTXxdXWSS9
The darling semifinalists of 2019 are short perhaps their biggest talent in goalkeeper and captain Johny Placide. If the positive COVID tests withhold that many players from the group phase, it will be tough to advance with a short handed roster. In a different group and under better circumstances, Haiti would have a much better shot at second place, but having to go through qualifying put them in a poor draw. Still, these aren’t the top USA or Canada squads and they’ll be a tough out even if they’re short some of their better players.
Head Coach: Mario Bocaly (MTQ)
FIFA Ranking: N/A Nickname: Les Matinino
Qualification: Nations League A Flight, Group C 2nd Place
Appearance: 7th / Best Finish: Quarterfinals (2002)
Roster Breakdown: 18 Domestic, 3 France, 1 Spain, 1 Italy
Hang on, I need to piss off Canada really quick...
Damn I love that goal, great call too. Anyway, its always difficult to judge Martinique as they’re not a full time FIFA member. But they are an A Flight Nations League team who recorded three draws in four games against Honduras and Trinidad, and they’re usually good for one win in the Gold Cup group stage, so they’re absolutely spoilers here even with a largely domestic roster.
UNITED STATES [USA/B1]
Head Coach: Gregg Berhalter (USA)
FIFA Ranking: 20 Nickname: The Yanks
Qualification: Hosts / Nations League A Flight Group A Winners
Appearance: 16th / Best Finish: Champions (1991, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2017)
Roster Breakdown: 19 MLS, 1 Spain, 1 Portugal, 1 Germany, 1 France
Recent Matches: W 1-0 vs. Honduras (NL Semi), W 3-2 vs. Mexico (NL Final), W 4-0 vs Costa Rica (Friendly)
Player To Know: Matt Turner, GK New England Revolution (USA/MLS) – 1 Int’l Appearance, 1 Shutout – As if there was going to be anyone else here, TBM stans Matt Turner as the full time USMNT #1 goalkeeper and this tournament is his first chance to really solidify this idea outside of New England and MLS.
Player To Watch: Daryl Dike, FWD Orlando City (USA/MLS) - 3 Int’l Appearances, 1 Goal – There are a lot of great youngsters on this USMNT roster, Gianluca Busio, Matthew Hoppe, Eryk Williamson among them, but Dike’s performance on loan with Barnsley this year was spectacular and this is his first chance to solidify his spot as the USMNT #9 head towards the World Cup.
So the USMNT is in two minds here, they’re obviously still one of the top teams in the tournament but this is very much a B-squad at best. While there’s a lot of talent here, it’s a very inexperienced international squad and while winning games is great, the overall goal might be more to find players that will help in qualifying and maybe make the second string and subs bench at next year’s World Cup. That being said, the team expectations should still be to make the finals, but the fan expectations should be tempered overall to focus on individual postion battles like striker and centerback. Oh, and goalkeeper, Matt Turner for all the starts.
I am fascinated by this group and really thing this is going to be a great test for both the USA and Canada. If either of the favorites were carrying a top roster, it would be a different story, but getting two solid teams in Haiti and Martinique should provide a solid benchmark prior to the blockbuster meeting at the end of the group.
Haiti has the best chance of the two to make the knockouts, Nazon and Pierrot are a formidable attacking duo. I always worry about Martinique’s lack of games, especially with the pandemic I’m not sure they’ve played since the Nations League but that never seems to matter and they always seem to get a group stage win anyway.
I think the USA will have some breakout performances in the group stage, and with Turner as a backstop I think they will carry the group. We’ll see if Dike and the young guns can add in enough goals for some comfortable victories along the way. I don’t like picking chalk, especially in a group primed for chaos, so we’ll make the excuse we’re just picking all the Revs players to advance in no particular order.
1) USA 2) Canada 3) Haiti 4) Martinique