Photo by: Brenden Cowan
Over the past 18 months, the Canadian men’s soccer team has surprised many. From remaining undefeated in World Cup qualifying for a whole calendar year to finishing top of the table in the Concacaf region, Canada is turning many heads at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
With their first appearance at the World Cup since 1986, this Canadian team is slowly turning the country into a soccer nation. Canada has an elite talent in the game to thank for their success thus far at the international level.
Alphonso Davies is a 22-year-old born in a refugee camp in Buduburam, Ghana. In 2005, Davies and his family emigrated to Canada, where he learned the game of soccer at a free after-school program at the age of five.
He began his professional career at the age of 16, becoming the third youngest player in MLS history to sign a contract. After a breakout year in his 2018 season with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Davies was bought on the transfer market by the German superteam, Bayern Munich. Although he did not play much in his first season with Bayern, he would start to make an impact on the squad in the 2019-2020 season, winning the Bundesliga title and the UEFA Champions League.
Davies is now an athletic left back and winger who frustrates opponents with his athleticism, speed and stamina, allowing him to chase down balls to regain possessions, as well as go on runs to support in the counter-attacking offence. His powerful shot and his ability to change pace are also a weapon on the offensive side of the pitch.
Though Davies is the best all-around talent on the Canadian squad, their striker, Jonathan David is another young talent that their group F opponents have to look out for. David currently plays for LOSC Lille in Frances’ Ligue 1, but many English Premier League clubs have been linked to David such as Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United.
His ability to attack spaces and find holes in defences backlines makes him lethal on the counterattack. David is also impressive in the quick decisions he makes on and off the ball. His reflexes and decision-making inside the box lead to many dangerous chances, as he ranks in the 83rd percentile for non-penalty goals per 90.
Sticking to the theme of young Canadian talent, Tajon Buchanan is a 23-year-old forward who plays in the Belgian first division for Brugge KV. His dribbling ability is arguably the best on the team as he constantly beats defenders one-on-one leading to counterattacks and great offensive possessions for Canada. His work rate on both offence and defence makes him a valuable piece in Canada’s formation as he often comes back to support the three defenders, strengthening the back line.
Though Buchanan does struggle with finishing. If he were to improve that aspect of his game, he too may be a highly sought-after target for top European leagues.
Shifting to the oldest player on the team, midfielder Atiba Hutchinson, is just a few months away from his 40th birthday, though he is still a valuable piece to this Canadian men’s national team. Hutchinson’s poise on the ball and ability to keep attacking players to the outside is key in Canada’s formation, as he plays in a defensive midfielder role. His figure matched with his sound positioning makes it easy for Hutchinson to intercept passes and move the ball back upfield on the counterattack.
Canada has many players to look out for at the 2022 World Cup and beyond. Although Canada may have been eliminated from advancing to the round of 16 – with a 4-1 loss to Croatia on Nov. 27 – the steps these players have taken over the last 18 months has shown the world that they are not a team that should be taken lightly.
Canada’s final match of the 2022 World Cup is on Dec. 1 against Morocco at 10 am and can be watched on TSN or CTV.