TORONTO — It was tougher than expected, but Canada did what it set out to do in a 5-0 rout of Dominica in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying on Tuesday.
The Canadians aimed to fill the net at BMO Field against their Caribbean opposition, and they accomplished just that thanks to goals by Jonathan David, Junior Hoilett, Lucas Cavallini and Cyle Larin. A Dominican own goal completed the set, as Canada wasn’t going to turn down any goals while it looks to outgun the rest of the field at the top of the qualification table.
“I’m pretty happy,” head coach John Herdman told reporters after the match. “Coming into this we knew we needed goals. That was an important part of it, so those five goals have put us now second in the Nations League [qualifiers]. We were sitting fourth after the game against USVI [on Matchday 1], so [we’ve] moved up a couple of spots and the boys knew that was important.”
What looked like it was going to be double-digit affair tightened up considerably after the first 20 minutes. Canada netted its first three goals in quick succession before Dominica tightened up and committed to all-out defensive play.
The inexperienced Canadians — six teenagers played a part in Tuesday’s match — weren’t exactly troubled by their opponent’s defensive stance, but it made the free-scoring ways of the opening quarter hour the exception rather than the rule. That created a problem that the Canadians didn’t expect to face.
“[Dominica] wanted to come out here and be physical, we could see that very early on,” midfielder Atiba Hutchinson said. “They were organized. At times they were not very easy to break down, and they didn’t really back off. They wanted to come here and put in a good performance. We just wanted to stick to our game plan, continue to do what we’ve been doing throughout our camps and continue to just play good attacking football.”
Canada’s attack-heavy formation, which featured just two defenders to start, produced some slick plays as the team’s young stars showed flashes of why Canada is seen as a potential giant in the region in the years to come.
But it wasn’t just the youngsters who demonstrated flair and creativity. Veterans like Hoilett, Cavallini and Jonathan Osorio, all in their mid-20s, combined well with their teammates and helped dictate the attack for large stretches.
It was Cavallini who had the moment of the match, when he chipped a penalty kick past the helpless Dominica goalkeeper in a display of supreme confidence.
“I think it was a great penalty,” Hutchinson said with a laugh. “He showed a lot of confidence in that. I certainly wasn’t expecting that. It was nice to see. It went a little bit high so I was hoping that it just stayed under the crossbar [and] he pulled it off.”