Canada, Honduras renew hostilities at BMO
Old Concacaf foes Canada and Honduras renew hostilities at BMO Field on Tuesday night in the final matchday of Nations League Group C action with first place on the line.
The 2022-2023 edition of the Concacaf Nations League will not only crown a winner for the competition, but has also served as a qualifying tournament for the 2023 Gold Cup with the top two teams in each group automatically advancing to the tournament set to kick off on June 24. The CanMNT and Honduras were drawn alongside Curacao in the group. Both teams currently sit on six points from three matches and have guaranteed a top-two finish and booked their places in the Gold Cup. By virtue of finishing last in the group, Curacao will now take part in a further qualifying tournament in mid-June in order to book a spot in the Gold Cup.
For Canada on Tuesday night, the stakes are simple: don't lose. The CanMNT's +5 goal differential to Honduras's +1 means that a draw is all that is necessary to claim top spot in the group for Canada. But that could be easier said than done with Honduras having won the reverse fixture earlier in qualifying.
On June 13, 2022, Canada took on Los Catrachos in San Pedro Sula on an incredibly waterlogged pitch. Only seconds after Junior Hoilett should have opened the scoring, failing with a tame effort after being played in by Stephen Eustáquio, the hosts were ahead. Collecting a cross in the area from CF Montreal's Romeo Quioto, Olimpia's Kevin Lopez dipped around Richie Laryea and beat Milan Borjan with a low drive to make it 1-0 in the 13th.
The condition of the pitch would play into the second goal from the hosts in the 78th. Running forward down the left from midfield, Edwin Solano was provided a lane for a cross after Kamal Miller slipped and fell on the loose turf. Solano delivered his ball to the penalty spot where Kervin Arriaga's shot was deflected through Derek Cornelius's legs and past Borjan to make it 2-0.
As the hosts looked to kill off the remainder of the 90 minutes, Cyle Larin pounced on a poor ball forward near midfield. He played a ball to his right into the area to meet Jonathan David and the LOSC man tucked the ball past Luis Lopez to pulled one back for Canada in the 86th, but no equalizer was coming with Honduras holding on for the 2-1 victory.
While Canada finished atop Concacaf World Cup qualifying and Honduras only managed to accrue four points from their 14 matches to finish in last place in the Octagon, Los Catrachos have always been somewhat of a bogey team for Canada. That was no better illustrated than by the infamous match in San Pedro Sula in the fall of 2012. Stephen Hart's CanMNT entered Honduras knowing that a single point was enough to enter the Hexagon, the final round of Concacaf qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Canada had not reached that final round of qualifying since reaching their first World Cup in 1986. Charitably, the CanMNT got their breaks beaten off that night at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano. Canada was trounced to the tune of 8-1, a crushing humiliation that the program would carry with it for years. All-time, Canada is 8-7-12 against Honduras.
Canada heads into the match coming off of a comfortable 2-0 win over Curacao on Saturday in Willemstad with John Herdman getting goals from Larin, his Canadian men's record 26th international goal, and David with Curacao reduced to 10 men late in the first half.
Herdman will be forced into at least one change in his XI. Chaves defender Steven Vitoria will be unavailable due to a booking accumulation suspension. Celtic defender Alistair Johnston, who didn't feature in Curacao, will likely draw into a starting spot.
None of the four new faces in the squad - Brighton 'keeper Tom McGill, Ross County midfielder Victor Loturi, defender Dominick Zator of Korona Kielce and St. Louis City defender Kyle Hiebert - took to the pitch in Curacao and remain waiting for their first appearance in a Canada shirt.
POTENTIAL CANADA XI VS. HONDURAS
Borjan; Johnston, Kennedy, Cornelius; Davies, Eustáquio, Koné, Laryea; Osorio; Larin, David