Canada Falls Short Against Argentina in Copa América Semifinals

Canada Falls Short Against Argentina in Copa América Semifinals

Canada was short on exploits Tuesday night against Argentina. Their fine run in the Copa América – their first ever – was interrupted in the semifinals, by virtue of a 2-0 defeat against Lionel Messi’s gang. They will still have the opportunity to go for third place in the third-place play-off, played Saturday.

Updated yesterday at 11:21 p.m.

Canada has nothing to be ashamed of after another honourable performance against the world champions. They haven’t shown their best side in recent games, of course, but we’ll admit that it’s hard to bring out your best game when you’re thinking about defending against the Albiceleste’s ferocious offensive machine.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Stephen Eustáquio said after the game in front of TSN. “To be here, one of the top four teams at the Copa América, it’s a great accomplishment. We’ve got one more game, and we’re going to push for third place.”

Good start

True to its good habits in this tournament, Canada was enterprising at the start of the match. Despite an all-Argentine possession, it found a way, during the first 20 minutes, to lead interesting counterattacks, notably with an energetic Jacob Shaffelburg on the left flank.


Canadian Jacob Shaffelburg and Argentinian Gonzalo Montiel

But the Argentinians only needed one opportunity to extinguish this beautiful will. In the 23rd, Rodrigo De Paul sent a long lobbed ball from midfield to Julián Álvarez, in the center. The Manchester City striker suavely passed the ball under the legs of Maxime Crépeau for 1-0. The Canadian defense was porous on the action.


Julián Álvarez celebrates his goal.

“I could see in the 18th minute that we were tired,” Jesse Marsch said in a post-match press conference, according to The Athletic. “There were a lot of miles in the legs on the field.”

With that lead, it seemed as if Argentina began to challenge Canada. Goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez and his two central defenders began to pass the ball around calmly, and the Canadians were reluctant to get too high up the field, risking deconstructing their tactical and defensive scheme. As a result, threats were few and far between on either side, except perhaps for a late Canadian opportunity from a nice throw-in by Alistair Johnston.

“They are the best team in the world,” Eustáquio said. “But at the same time, we had our chances at the beginning of the match. If we scored, the story of the match would have been different. They had a chance, they scored.”

On the menu: waste of time

After the break, with everything still to play for, the ramparts of the maple leaf fell once again to the attacks of the crowd’s favorites… who obviously only had their hearts set on the scorer, Lionel Messi. In fact, Messi was almost lucky to be credited with the goal that made it 2-0 in the 51st minute, when he put his foot in the right place to deflect the ball past a stretched-out Crépeau.


Lionel Messi scores a goal.

Jesse Marsch’s changes subsequently provided some spark, notably when Ali Ahmed and Liam Millar came on for Shaffelburg and Richie Laryea close to the hour mark.

An injury to Alphonso Davies even forced Canada’s coach to reshuffle his cards, which gave Mathieu Choinière his first minutes of the tournament starting in the 72nd minute. The Quebecer looked good, by the way. We bet we’ll see him again for the third-place match, especially since Marsch mentioned wanting to make several changes for this match.

As for Davies, he underwent X-ray tests after the game, which determined he was “okay,” Canada Soccer said, as quoted by TSN.


Alphonso Davies was injured during the match.

In the meantime, Argentina displayed their mastery of the dark arts of time-wasting – in addition to their high-level ball control – to deny the Reds any hope. In a second half that unfortunately saw little soccer, the most memorable was Ismaël Koné’s hit on De Paul, when the latter was once again lying on the ground in pain before finishing the match on his two feet. The Montrealer’s move earned him a justified yellow card, even though many Canadians recognized themselves in Koné at that precise moment.

“Becoming a better team in the future”

Canada thus came out of this match against the world champions more frustrated than disappointed, despite the good feelings evoked after the confrontation. Which says a lot about the giant step that this team has just taken.

“I took this job seven weeks ago,” Jesse Marsch said at a press conference. “I never imagined I’d be here. I couldn’t be happier with this team.”

And there is still room to grow, according to Eustáquio.

“It’s important for people back home to understand that it’s possible for us to be here more often,” he told TSN reporter Matthew Scianitti. “I would like to see the Canadian Premier League grow even more to bring us even more players. [La Coupe du monde de] 2026 is right there. We need Canadians to make us better. If everyone is professional, we can become a better team in the future. That’s my hope.”

2024-07-10 01:55:32
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