Canada Player Ratings: Adekugbe, David reinforce World Cup importance vs. Qatar
The Canadian men’s national team put in a dominant performance in their first of three World Cup preparation friendlies, defeating Qatar 2-0 on Friday in Vienna, Austria.
Canada outshot and out-possessed the 2022 World Cup hosts en route to a comfortable victory ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against Uruguay – a much bigger test for Les Rouges.
Here’s how John Herdman’s squad fared two months before Group F play begins in Qatar, opening Nov. 23 against Belgium.
Borjan was called into action early and was up to task, keeping a clean sheet. The Red Star Belgrade veteran wasn’t overly tested but put out any sign of danger that Qatar sent his way.
In form for CF Montréal, Johnston put in another solid shift, operating at times in a back three and as a fullback down the right side. There’s not much debate at this point: Johnston has become Canada’s most important defender.
An early yellow card forced Vitória to proceed with caution, but the 35-year-old center back settled in and put in a veteran performance. His presence in the heart of Canada’s back line will continue to be crucial moving forward.
As CF Montréal fans have grown accustomed to, Miller was sound defensively. The 25-year-old central defender also showed that when given the opportunity, he’s more than capable of picking the right pass. An inspiring shift all around.
David Junior Hoilett
Wearing the captain’s armband, Hoilett was one of the sharper players on the pitch operating down the right-hand flank, going the full 90 minutes. He has been an important figure for Reading and will continue to play a key role for John Herdman’s side heading into the World Cup.
There’s no doubt. When he’s on the pitch, the game flows through Eustáquio, and that was once again the case on Friday. The box-to-box midfielder set the tempo for Les Rouges in what was ultimately a comfortable performance.
With Atiba Hutchinson and Jonathan Osorio missing, Piette slotted into the heart of Canada’s midfield – and did not disappoint. The CF Montréal standout played in a deep-lying role and stifled Qatar’s counterattack while looking comfortable in possession, completing 95.7% of his passes. He’s in form and making a case for minutes in November.
A candidate for Man of the Match, the former Vancouver Whitecaps FC homegrown fullback showed once again why he’s become an essential piece for Canada. He finished with one assist but could have had a couple if his teammates were more clinical in front of goal. Adekugbe is a must-start.
We’ve seen better matches from the former Vancouver Whitecaps FC and current FC Bayern Munich star. However, he was still a significant threat in attack, picking up an assist on David’s goal. The biggest concern will be whether Davies will be available for Tuesday’s game against Uruguay after he was forced to leave the match at the hour mark with an apparent lower-body injury.
David has been in form for Lille, scoring five times in eight appearances, and picked up right where he left off. As he’s been for quite some time, the 22-year-old striker was Canada’s biggest threat moving forward, highlighted by scoring his 22nd international goal in the 13th minute.
Larin hasn’t been in form with his new domestic side Club Brugge in Belgium, scoring just once in seven matches this season – but you wouldn’t be able to tell watching him vs. Qatar. It only took four minutes for the former Orlando City SC striker to open the scoring, as he headed home a perfectly weighted cross from Adekugbe. Larin was substituted off at halftime.
Any time that your team starts the match by going up two goals in under 13 minutes, you know you’re doing something right. After a disappointing window in June, and with time ticking before the World Cup kicks off in November, there was pressure for Herdman heading into Friday’s match to get things back on track, and he did so emphatically.
The Toronto FC fullback, on loan from Premier League side Nottingham Forest, was the first player off the bench for Herdman, replacing Cyle Larin at halftime. Laryea’s two-way threat down the right flank was apparent from the jump and he put in a decent shift, almost scoring in the 63rd minute, but had his effort from point-blank range blocked.
An underwhelming shift from the 24-year-old FC Eindhoven forward. Brym made little impact after checking into the match in the 60th minute. His spot in Qatar is far from a guarantee.
Ugbo checked into the game for Jonathan David in the 60th minute and got into good areas, but failed to find the back of the net. Notably, the 24-year-old striker missed a sitter minutes after coming onto the pitch.
The CF Montréal youngster impressed in 30-plus minutes of work, showing some of the quality and dynamism that has teams in Europe interested in his services. With Hutchinson and Osorio missing, Koné could be in line to play an important role vs. Uruguay on Tuesday.
Raising a few eyebrows, Millar came off the bench and operated as a wingback. He showed flashes of his potential and looked comfortable in his new role. The versatility of the former Liverpool attacker may just be what earns his spot on Herdman’s 26-man roster.
There was not enough time to give the Toronto FC midfielder a fair rating, but it may not be a stretch to say he’s beginning to slide down Herdman’s depth chart. We’ll see if Kaye gets more minutes on Tuesday.