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Canada soundly beaten by Netherlands in Marsch's debut as Canadian coach


ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — The class of the seventh-ranked Netherlands took its toll on Canada in a four-goal second half, with three of the goals coming in a 13-minute span, as Jesse Marsch's debut as Canadian men's soccer coach ended in a 4-0 loss Thursday.

And it's out of the frying pan into the fire Sunday as 49th-ranked Canada takes on No. 2 France in Bordeaux in another high-profile friendly.

Marsch acknowledged 4-0 was a "tough" score line, albeit one he felt was not indicative of the game. But ultimately he sought to put the performance against elite opposition into proper perspective.

"Our end vision, our end goal is two years from now. And we're just starting our process," said Marsch, referencing the 2026 World Cup. "It's almost unfair to have your first match against the Dutch and your second against the French. But so what? We've got to grow up as a team, we've got to grow up as a football nation and we've got to figure out ways to get better.

"There's no better way to do that than playing against opponents like this."

The Canadians started well, pressing the Dutch, and it was even for much of the first half. But the Dutch precision passing began to take its toll and Canada found itself under pressure as the half ended.

Jeremie Frimpong, Memphis Depay, Wout Weghorst and Virgil van Dijk scored in the second half as the Dutch ratcheted up the pressure and Canada made mistakes.

Depay started it in the 50th minute, knocking home a perfect Frimpong cross after shedding fullback Alistair Johnston. Canadian star fullback Alphonso Davies, making his debut as captain, gave the Bayer Leverkusen right back too much space to deliver the cross.

It was Depay's 45th goal for his country. Only the retired Robin van Persie (50) has scored more.

Frimpong doubled the lead in the 57th, getting behind Davies. The Canadian fullback got back in time to block his first shot attempt but the ball came back to Frimpong, who curled it in from a tight angle for his first goal in his third national team appearance.

Davies was left on an island, with centre back Derek Cornelius stepping up on the play.

Weghorst made it 3-0 in the 63rd minute, punishing goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair when he could not hold on to a Jerdy Schouten shot that went through a defender's legs after a Dominic Zator turnover. Weghorst was Johnny-on-the-spot as the ball came straight to him. The Canadians had nine defenders in the box but could not prevent the goal.

The six-foot-four Van Dijk added to the Canadian pain in the 83rd minute, scoring on a simple header after Canada failed to clear a corner.

St. Clair, who made some excellent saves, started in goal behind a backline of Johnston, Cornelius, Moise Bombito and Davies. The midfield was Stephen Eustaquio, Ismael Kone, Tajon Buchanan and Liam Millar with Jonathan David and Cyle Larin up front.

It was just a fifth Canadian appearance for both St. Clair and Bombito.

Marsch made four changes from Canada's last outing, a 2-0 win over No. 98 Trinidad and Tobago in a March Copa America qualifier under interim coach Mauro Biello with St. Clair, Bombito, Cornelius and Millar slotting in.

The Canadian starting 11 went into the match with 334 combined caps. The average age of the side was 25, with Larin the oldest starter at 29.

March, while talking up Davies, said he planned to rotate the captain's armband for the short-term. And he stressed hat nothing was cast in stone yet in terms of personnel, including his starting goalkeeper.

The Dutch had 61 per cent possession outshot Canada 20-6 (11-2 in shots on target).

The talent available to Dutch manager Ronald Koeman was on display when van Dijk came off the bench in the 72nd minute. The Liverpool captain cost his club 75 million pounds ($131.1 million) when he came over from Southampton in January 2018 for a then-world-record transfer fee for a defender.

Marsch and the Canadians wore armbands emblazoned with a poppy, marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day. The 50-year-old American, named coach on May 13, showed he knew "O Canada" in adding his voice to the anthem with others.

Eustaquio, Johnston and Cornelius all made important first-half blocks to deny dangerous Dutch shots. At the other end, Larin's shot off a Millar cross went just wide of the Dutch post.

Jacob Shaffelburg came on to start the second half with Zator, Charles-Andreas Brym, Junior Hoilett, Mathieu Choiniere and Samuel Piette following off the bench.

Canada is preparing for its Copa America campaign, which opens June 20 against World Cup champion Argentina. The Netherlands and France are preparing for Euro 2024, which kicks off June 14 in Germany.

The Dutch host No. 72 Iceland on Monday.

Canada and the Netherlands had met just once before, with the Dutch winning 3-0 at Toronto's Varsity Stadium in June 1994 in the run-up to the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2024.