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Marsch on CanMNT: ‘We’ve made incredible strides’


For Canadian men's national team head coach Jesse Marsch, the focus has already turned to Saturday’s bronze-medal game at the Copa America.

Canada is coming off a 2-0 semifinal loss to reigning World Cup champion Argentina on Tuesday night and Marsch, who took over in May, notes there are a lot of positive things to be taken away from the experience despite the disappointment.

“There’s a lot of positives, I think there’s almost no negatives,” said Marsch in a presser Wednesday afternoon. “I think the experience of playing against big opponents and understanding what the highest level looks like, the demands of the way that we’re trying to play, understanding my leadership and personality, the feel of the physicality and mentality that we’re trying to create in the way that we want to play.

“Literally almost every aspect of what you talk about what it takes to put into a team, we’ve made incredible strides. But there’s still a lot to do. It’s all levels.”

When reflecting on Thursday’s loss, Marsch is quick to dispel any notion that his team was in “awe” of Argentina.

“If you look at the first 15-18 minutes, we went after them,” said Marsch. “But what happened is, what I said after the match: the tournament caught up with us a little bit and we had tired legs. And then when we were trying to still push and still trying to be organized and disciplined, we just got a little bit looser and then, you know, Argentina can punish you for that.

“But trust me, there was no part of the team that was in awe. This was only trying to set our standard for what we want to be like in the best games and it’s just that physically, we didn’t have enough.”

Marsch confirmed it’s too early to say if star Alphonso Davies will be available for the bronze-medal game. He went for X-rays after Tuesday’s match, and they came back negative.

Marsch also had the 12 players and two goalkeepers who didn’t start at training Wednesday morning and intends to make changes for Saturday’s lineup. Canada will play the loser of tonight's semifinal between Uruguay and Colombia.

“Clearly, we need some fresh legs on the pitch, and I have to evaluate some players,” said Marsch. “Some players have done really well in training sessions, [others] when they’ve come on for limited minutes. And it’s time for them to be rewarded and to evaluate exactly where their level is at against a really good opponent.”

After Tuesday night’s match, Canadian midfielder Stephen Eustáquio said he’d like to see more of a push in Canada to develop talent in the country.

The men’s senior national team has found itself on big stages, like qualifying for the World Cup in 2022 and now appearing in the semifinal at the Copa America. However, Canada struggled at the World Cup and in last night’s match and they didn’t have quite enough on Tuesday night against a better Argentinian squad.

Marsch agrees that going forward, Canada needs to improve its development methods for players at the grassroots level.

“Too many of these players’ development arcs have launched at too late an age,” said Marsch. “At the youth level, and this is both the youth national team, club and academy levels, we’re got to demand more out of the players. We’ve got to demand more physically [and] mentally. We’ve got to have more personalities in our players. Too many of the players here are too quiet.

“It’s not that they’re not intelligent, because they are, but they’re not demanded to be more, and physically, mentally, intellectually, we’ve got to find a way to develop players faster.”