MIAMI, Florida – This Friday at 7:00 PM ET, Concacaf will be airing a re-broadcast of two Concacaf Gold Cup classics, the first being the 2000 Gold Cup Final between Canada and Colombia, followed by the 2015 Gold Cup Final between Mexico and Jamaica. Both matches will be shown on Concacaf’s Facebook and YouTube pages, plus the Concacaf App.
The Gold Cup is no stranger to surprises, and one result that ranks toward the top of the list was Canada’s 2-1 extra time victory over Mexico in the 2000 Gold Cup quarterfinals at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.
El Tricolor had won the previous three Gold Cups and were in search of a fourth consecutive crown, only to be halted in their tracks by an upstart Canada that got a Golden Goal from Richard Hastings to eliminate the defending champions.
“I remember it was so loud leading up to that, the vuvuzelas had come in and it was a predominant Mexico crowd down in San Diego, and then the crowd went silent, almost in disbelief,” said former Canada FW Carlo Corazzin in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.
“You looked at the Mexican bench and it was almost like they were hypnotized. They couldn’t believe what had just happened, saying, ‘This doesn’t happen. Canada doesn’t beat us.’ We were like chickens with our heads cut off. We almost didn’t know how to celebrate because we hadn’t been in that situation before. But I remember getting to the locker room, settling down and feeling the most exhausted I’d ever been and thinking, ‘Wow, that’s what it takes to actually conquer these guys,’” added Corazzin.
The Golden Goal from Hastings would not have been possible without the heroics of Corazzin, who scored Canada’s first three goals in the tournament, including a brace in their opening 2-2 draw with Costa Rica and the equalizer against Mexico via a header in the 83’.
“For sure with the national team, my goal against Mexico is the most important. From a skill point of view, I would say the [overhead kick] against Costa Rica in the first game. From an importance and meaningful point of view, the one against Mexico for sure,” said Corazzin.
Canada would ride the momentum from the Mexico win all the way to the Final, where Corazzin scored his fourth goal to help Canada defeat Colombia, 2-0. The four goals for the former striker earned him the coveted Golden Boot award, a distinction he knows would not have been possible without the confidence instilled in him by Head Coach Holger Osieck.
“I had come into the tournament in good form, having played some good seasons in the English second division and I got the belief from a guy like Holger. He said to me, ‘That job is yours. Don’t ever doubt that it’s not. Just go and play.’ Nowadays four goals you’re not winning anything, but back then it was enough to win it. I’m grateful and I’m very proud of it, but it was a team collaboration to get to that point,’ said Corazzin.
Corazzin adds that Osieck’s influence was felt not just by himself, but by the entire squad from the moment he took the reins of the squad in 1998.
“I’d go back to our first training camp with Holger. I think it started there, but I think he brought in a mentality that we had never had. I was fortunate to go to Italy from ages 16 to 20 where it truly is a religion to play soccer and everything is taken so professionally, so when we had someone like Holger come in and implement this from the start, you kind of knew that there was a shift of mentality and everyone was buying in.
“He brought of level of professionalism to the group, telling us what was needed. We had a guy who had been down the road and competed at a high level and knew what he was doing. Adding [Assistant] Bruce Twamley, who knew everything about Concacaf, and [Assistant] Les Wilson, who had been to the 1986 World Cup, that group came together. Holder led the train and we all followed,” said Corazzin.
The 2000 Canada team remains the country’s only team to have won a Gold Cup, yet the current Canada squad that set multiple Canada goal-scoring records at last summer’s Gold Cup is sparking plenty of optimism that Canada’s day in the Concacaf sun will return soon.
“This is far and away the best attack Canada has ever had. The options and the ability of those options to play and go forward is great and the depth is way beyond anything I’ve ever seen in the national team. The defense is probably not as resilient as we have seen in previous years. They are good players, and I think if they become more resolute in the back and they put together that with the attacking force, I think they can really make waves in Concacaf and join us in winning something and maybe more,” said Corazzin.
Yet what stands out for Corazzin when he reflects back on that month of February in 2000 when Canada reached the Concacaf mountaintop, it is the moments and times he enjoyed with his teammates both on and off the field.
“That team won together, played together, had fun together and just gelled. From 1 to 23, from on the field, to off the field, to dinners to lunches to bus rides, everyone was involved and it was a great time,” concluded Corazzin.