Midfielder Will Johnson (pictured) is expected to play a key role for Canada in a pair of World Cup qualifiers against Mexico next month. (Photo courtesy of Canada Soccer)
CARSON, California -- In its first game of 2016 on Friday night, Canada got a quality run out against one of the top teams in CONCACAF, falling 1-0 to the host United States. Even though a good chunk of the squad won’t be involved in March’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, many of the veteran members should be around.
Canada is expected to call up much of its European-based contingent as fourth-round play resumes, with an eye on securing one of the top two spots in Group A.
“I think there are some good lessons to learn,” midfielder Will Johnson said after the U.S. encounter. "Now we've got some live footage of a game that we can look on and correct things in order to make improvements and not make the same mistakes we made tonight against Mexico when it really matters."
The two-game series against the table-topping Mexicans could prove pivotal, but head coach Benito Floro has a bigger picture in mind.
“We don’t prepare just to get better for Mexico alone,” said the 63-year-old Spaniard. “We want to improve any mistakes we’ve done before and we’re going to continue to work on ball movement and tactics and it’s not just for Mexico.”
Canada looked organized against the Americans and nearly came away with a draw, only for Jozy Altidore to net the game-winning goal in the 89th minute.
"Every camp, every day, and every match is a step in the right direction," Floro finished. "We are not worried about Mexico or any opponent. We just have to play our game and attack better offensively."