Early in the second half Monday, a ball went out near John Herdman and the Canadian coach instantly scooped it up and flipped it to one of his players to restart play — pronto.
Canada was leading the Cayman Islands 6-0 at the time. And Herdman wanted more.
He got it as a young Canada side ran up a record goal total, crushing the Cayman Islands part-timers 11-0 in World Cup qualifying play.
“The players showed they wanted to make a statement tonight,” said Herdman.
Canada is ranked 73rd in the world, 120 places above the Caymans. And the first-ever meeting between the two at the senior level quickly turned into a rout. For long stretches, it looked like a training game contested in the Caymans’ end.
WATCH | Canada sets new men’s national record with 11 goals:
Ruthless was the Canadian keyword.
“We had a couple of words on the board that we were really focusing on going into the game. Ruthlessness was the main one,” said fullback Alistair Johnson, who scored his first for Canada. “And I think this group really showed that.
“We wanted to make history out there. We wanted really to send a message to the rest of CONCACAF that we mean business. And I think we did that tonight.”
Johnston pointed to the lack of goal celebrations — although hat-trick hero Lucas Cavallini didn’t hold back when he banged heads with two-goal man Alphonso Davies after one score — as the Canadian players wanted to restart play as quickly as possible.
“It was ‘Hey, let’s get another one, let’s get another one,”‘ said Johnston. “I think that’s the mindset of a big team, a team that wants to do some things. I think it’s really exciting times for all of us Canadian footballers and for Canadian football fans right now.”
The Canadian men’s previous scoring record was 8-0 over the U.S. Virgin Islands in September 2018 in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying play. The previous high in World Cup qualifying was a 7-0 victory in St. Lucia in October 2011.
Eighteen games remain for the Canadian team if it is to make it to Qatar 2022. But midway though the first round of CONCACAF qualifying, it has set itself up for success in advancing to the next stage.
WATCH | Larin hat trick leads Canada past Bermuda:
Whether Canada can find the consistency it needs against the big teams in the region remains to be seen.
“These young men are going to learn on the job,” Herdman said.
Mark-Anthony Kaye also scored twice while Johnston, Frank Sturing, Cyle Larin and David Wotherspoon added singles for Canada, which led 4-0 after 27 minutes.
Sturing’s goal came five minutes into his Canadian debut. Wotherspoon and Kaye also opened their Canadian scoring accounts.
Cavallini, who could have had a hat trick last time out against Bermuda but had no luck in front of goal, upped his Canadian total to 14 with goals in the 68th, 74th and 76th minutes.
The Canadians showed no mercy at the IMG Academy, knowing that No. 141 Suriname had won its two first qualifying games with a plus-nine goal differential in CONCACAF’s Group B.
Canada (2-0-0) upped its goal difference to plus-15.
Canada opened its qualifying campaign with a 5-1 win over No. 169 Bermuda in Orlando last Thursday. The Caymans lost 3-0 Wednesday at Suriname, which improved to 2-0-0 with a 6-0 thumping of No. 200 Aruba on Saturday in Bradenton.
Next up for Canada is a June 5 match at Aruba and a June 8 home game against Suriname. Whether the team can play at home in June depends on whether the pandemic-related border restrictions are eased.
Monday’s beatdown means Canada can likely go into the final group match against Suriname, knowing a draw will suffice given the goal difference. Suriname only managed a 3-0 win over the Caymans.
WATCH | Canada looks to keep World Cup 2022 hopes alive:
Thirty CONCACAF countries have been split into six groups in the first round of qualifying in the region that covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. There is little room for error given only the six groups winners will advance.
Herdman, employing the kind of “Art of War” metaphor coaches favour, calls it a “death ground.”
Monday’s game was slated to be played Sunday but was pushed back so the Caymans delegation could undergo the PCR tests required by FIFA rather than rapid antigen tests originally taken.
Alfredo Whittaker, president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, said the testing problem occurred because of travel delays that disrupted the necessary COVID-19 protocols.
Herdman, rotating his squad against the CONCACAF minnow, made nine changes to the starting lineup that dispatched Bermuda.
Group B standings after the opening matches of Concacaf World Cup Qualifying.<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/CANMNT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#CANMNT</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/WCQ?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#WCQ</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Qatar2020?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Qatar2020</a> <a href=”https://t.co/iTv4te2Pov”>pic.twitter.com/iTv4te2Pov</a>
Only Larin and Davies retained their starting spots. Midfielder Samuel Piette wore the captain’s armband for the first time, taking over for Atiba Hutchinson, who has returned to Turkey to rejoin club team Besiktas.
Maxime Crepeau started in goal, with Milan Borjan returning to Red Star Belgrade. He could have taken a cup of coffee and newspaper out on the field because he had nothing to do.
At the other end, Canada fired 44 shots, including 16 on target.
Canada’s starting 11 had a combined cap count of just 144, with 118 of those coming from Piette (51) Larin (33), Davies (19) and Kaye (15). Six of the seven other starters have single-digit caps.
Ferreira, Sturing earn first caps
Ricardo Ferreira and Sturing started at centre back, earning their first Canadian caps in the process. Winger Theo Corbeanu and Johnston made their first starts — and second appearances — for Canada.
Davies, who had started further up front against Bermuda, returned to the fullback role he fills at Bayern Munich but moved up the pitch later in the game.
The Caymans’ defensive block was breached quickly with 21-year-old Caymans goaltender Albertini Holness finding himself in a shooting gallery.
Cameron Gray gave the Caymans something to celebrate when he nutmegged Davies early in the second half. And the Caymans managed to slow the Canadian attack to open the second half, holding them off the scoreboard for the first 18 minutes.
But the scoring spree resumed with goals in the 63rd, 68th, 73rd, 74th and 76th.
Monday’s game was officially a home game for the Caymans. But the three-island group with a population of some 63,000 has the same 14-day quarantine as Canada so opted to shift the site to Bradenton where the Canadian men had held a camp in January.
The Caymans have enjoyed some success under 31-year-old English coach Ben Pugh, a former academy coach at Ipswich Town. They won four of six League C matches in the CONCACAF Nations League in 2019, including a 3-2 victory over No. 162 Barbados.
Whittaker said the Caymans roster included a number of “key players” from its youth sides and “a handful of players that we called experienced players that are 24, 25, 26.”
“You can only play what’s in front of you,” said Herdman.
Maple Leafs' goalie Petr Mrazek exits with groin injury vs. Senators – The Athletic
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek exited after the second period of a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday with what the team called a groin injury. The team had no further update on his status after the game.
Mrazek went down awkwardly on the final shot of the period from Ottawa’s Victor Mete, then hobbled down the tunnel at the end of the period. Mrazek made 26 saves but allowed three first-period goals. Jack Campbell came on for the Leafs in goal to start the third period.
Mrazek, 29, was making his debut with the Leafs after signing a three-year deal in the offseason.
(Photo: Chris Tanouye / Getty Images)
Umpire's 'Blown' Check-Swing Call Ends Epic Dodgers-Giants Series And Stuns Fans – Yahoo
The Giants’ Wilmer Flores struck out on what many believed was a blown check-swing call by first base umpire Gabe Morales. The out preserved the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory in Game 5 on Thursday, allowing the team to advance to the National League Championship Series against Atlanta.
The chances of a Giants rally appeared dim at the time. The count was 0-2, there were two outs, a runner on first, and three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer was pitching. Not to mention that Flores had never gotten a hit off Scherzer before, the San Francisco Chronicle noted.
But the anticlimactic ending to the momentous playoff clash between the historic rivals angered fans. Reporters and Major Leaguers, including the New York Mets’ Kevin Pillar (a former Giant), chimed in, too.
Check out the reactions of what some called “the check swing heard round the world.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
Cardinals acquire Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz from Eagles – Sportsnet.ca
The undefeated Arizona Cardinals have added another weapon to their arsenal.
The Cardinals, who are the only 5-0 team in the NFL, acquired three-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz from the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday for cornerback Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick.
Ertz played with the Eagles since they selected him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He set an NFL record for most receptions by a tight end in a single season with 116 catches and also had a career-high 1,163 yards during the 2018 season. Ertz, who was selected to the Pro Bowl three consecutive years from 2017-19, caught the game-winning touchdown during Super Bowl LII to help the Eagles defeat the New England Patriots 41-33 and capture their first Super Bowl.
“Zach Ertz built a special legacy in Philadelphia,” Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. “Talented, tough, and passionate, he helped to establish our team’s culture and played a vital role in our success over the years.
“Zach created so many memories that will live on forever, from setting numerous franchise and league records, to reaching across the end zone for the game-winning touchdown in our first-ever Super Bowl championship. He will always be a member of the Eagles family, not only because of what he accomplished on the field, but also because of the wonderful person, dedicated leader, and exemplary role model that he was for nine seasons in Philadelphia. We wish Zach and Julie nothing but the best.”
The 30-year-old Ertz has 18 receptions for 189 yards and two touchdowns in six games this season. Philadelphia lost 28-22 Thursday night to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Ertz hauling in a touchdown catch.
The Cardinals play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
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