Canada’s World Cup soccer team is the country’s team of the year

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

The Canadian men’s soccer team, which captured the country’s imagination by returning to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years, was voted team of the year by The Canadian Press.

This is the second year in a row that a soccer team has received this honour. The Canadian women’s soccer team received the title in 2021 after winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

« It’s a great honour, » said Canadian men’s soccer head coach John Herdman. I think it reflects the sacrifices and efforts given behind the scenes for decades. I think of several former players, coaches and managers.

Herdman was the head coach of the Canadian women’s soccer team when it was named team of the year in 2012 after winning bronze at the London Olympics. He took charge of the men’s team in January 2018, when they were ranked 94th in the world.

Unlike the women’s team, which has participated in seven of the last eight World Cups and already has its ticket to the 2023 tournament in Australia and New Zealand, the men’s team had participated in the big party only once soccer world before this year — in 1986 in Mexico when Canada failed to score a single point or score a single goal.

To get their ticket to Qatar, the Canadian team had to overcome a grueling 20-game schedule. She eventually finished top of the Concacaf standings in a round robin.

Herdman’s squad confirmed their World Cup appearances on March 27 with a 4-0 win over Jamaica at BMO Field in Toronto.

« A talented young group of athletes have ended one of the longest droughts in sporting history and put the country on the world soccer map, » said Victoria’s Sports Editor. Times Colonist, Brian Drewry.

“Rarely have we seen a country — in a year without an Olympics — rally like this around a group of athletes,” said Phil King of The Globe and Mail. The team’s journey in qualifying, then its trip to Qatar will forever mark the sporting history of Canada. I’m sure that somewhere, a boy playing soccer thought that he might be able to play at the Worlds one day. That’s special. »

In the poll conducted by editors and sports commentators across the country, the Canadian men’s soccer team beat out three champion teams. She got 23 votes, while the Canadian tennis team, which won the Davis Cup for the first time in its history, received 19. The Canadian women’s hockey team, which won gold at the Olympic Games in Beijing and at the World Championship in Denmark, ranked third with five votes.

The men’s 4×100 meters relay team of Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and World Championships in Athletics champion Andre De Grasse received a vote.

« I can’t remember a year when there were so many good choices, » Toronto Star sports editor Rob Grant said.

The Canadian men’s soccer team, now ranked 41st in the world, faced Belgium (No. 2), Croatia (No. 12) and Morocco (No. 22) in Group F in Qatar. She drew praise despite a 1-0 loss to Belgium, then Alphonso Davies scored the country’s first-ever World Cup goal in a 4-1 loss to Croatia.

The Canadians concluded their adventure by suffering a 2-1 loss against Morocco.

« This group of players and coaches over the past four years has really bonded and gone through a very difficult time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, » Herdman said. Despite everything, the team managed to re-emerge on the world stage and inspire people with their performances. The world now knows that we are a soccer country and that we can score against good teams at the World Cup.

The level of Group F was demonstrated by Croatia and Morocco reaching the semi-finals, eventually losing to Argentina and France respectively. Croatia then defeated Morocco 2-1 in the bronze medal game.

And if the Canadians were unable to win a first game at the World Cup, they nevertheless won the hearts of many observers.

« I think a lot of people were expecting Canada to play a passive, defensive and counter-attacking style, » Herdman said. There was finally a buzz about Canada’s style of play at Worlds. And I think that motivated our players to show that they were capable of attacking.

The tournament served as a showcase for a few players. Two members of the team – and of CF Montreal – found takers in Europe, while Alistair Johnston was transferred to Celtic FC and Ismaël Koné, to Watford.

Including the three World Cup losses, the Canadian men’s soccer team compiled a 7-7-1 record in 2022. Herdman is now focused on the 2026 World Cup, which will be hosted in Canada, Mexico and in the United States.

He believes the experience gained in Qatar will serve as a « solid foundation » for 2026.

« People are curious to see what we can do in 2026, » he said. I think any notion that Canada was just a hockey nation has been deconstructed. I think people were genuinely impressed with our team’s aggressive and attacking style. »

(function(d, s, id){ var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) {return;} js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = ""; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));


Back to top button