Canada's Julian de Guzman (white jersey) tries to avoid being tackled in a World Cup qualifier against host Mexico on March 29, 2016, in Mexico City. (Photo: Mexsport)
MEXICO CITY – The month of March may not have yielded the desired results for Canada, but World Cup Qualifying advancement remains in its own hands. That fact alone -- after a pair of losses in five days to first-place Mexico – was reason for optimism.
The Mexicans have already sealed one of the two Group A berths, winning each of their four games without conceding a goal. Although in third on goal difference, Canada can claim the other spot with victories in its last two outings. One of those matches will be at second-place Honduras on September 2.
In Tuesday’s 2-0 setback to host Mexico, Canada allowed both goals in the first half, including a penalty kick. A much-improved performance following the half-time break was encouraging.
“The boys did extremely well tonight,” midfielder Nik Ledgerwood said. “We kept our shape. That was our main goal. Unfortunately, there were two goals conceded that on a good day maybe don’t happen.”
Team captain Julian de Guzman, who made his 31st appearance in a World Cup qualifier, thought that the manner in which Canada went about its business had positive implications for the future.
“It’s important that we were disciplined tonight,” remarked the 35-year-old midfielder. “If we can do that in Honduras, it will be a much different result. It felt like we were a bit more organized and then going into the second half we picked up a little more confidence.
“I think the way we were organized means a lot going into the next game.”
Canada has not reached that final round of CONCACAF qualifying since the 1998 World Cup cycle.