Short term pain, long term gain.
That’s what Canada hopes to get out of Thursday’s 2-0 group stage defeat to Mexico in the Gold Cup.
Playing a lineup featuring plenty of young players, the Canucks ended up losing the game not from the run of play – but from a corner kick and a controversial penalty.
“Samuel Piette at 18 years of age in the middle of the park, playing beside Julian de Guzman,” interim Canada head coach Colin Miller said following the match. “I thought they were excellent tonight. I thought they gave us everything. Kyle Bekker, his first game for a long time. I'm hoping now that he goes and opens the door for himself at TFC.
“He put in a fantastic performance here tonight. Same thing with Jonathan Osorio. I'm very, very proud of us in possession of the ball tonight. I thought we played with maturity. I'm very, very proud of the players.”
Thursday’s defeat followed Sunday’s humiliating 1-0 defeat to Martinique – a French territory which isn’t even a country and as a result not a member of FIFA.
“We have worked so hard after the major disappointment on Sunday,” Miller said. “Not so much the performance, but certainly the result at the time the Martinique player scored – to pick the group up and get them ready for the powerhouse that Mexico are speaks volumes about their character. Well done to everyone within our association for helping us along.”
Canada was further hindered by a number of players unavailable due to injury and illness, including captain Will Johnson and young star Russell Teibert, who has been in electric form for MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps in recent weeks.
“Any time you take Will Johnson – who is your captain and a natural leader – out of the group. You take him out of the equation,” Miller said. “You take Russell Teibert – who has been sick and who has just come back from the hospital this morning after getting tested and he'll probably be leaving the group tomorrow to go back to Vancouver, by the looks of it.
“When you take those players and their quality out of the group, you're then looking at the rest of group and how much progress has been made since we've been together and what they have character-wise. I think it was there for all to see.”
Canada now sits at the bottom of its group with a record of 0-2-0, and wraps up the group stage of this tournament against Panama on Sunday.
Kyle McCarthy contributed additional reporting from Seattle