Canada falls against Iceland in close match, Hexagonal hopes take hit

Canada dropped a 1-0 decision against Iceland on Wednesday night in Irvine, Calif., ending their January camp on a sour note after back-to-back 4-1 wins over Barbados.

The only goal arrived in the 21st minute, when defender Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson struck home a corner kick that initially ricocheted off the crossbar and left Montreal Impact goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau scrambling. 

Canada twice thought they had equalized, but Vancouver Whitecaps FC striker Tosaint Ricketts was caught in an offside position. The result left head coach John Herdman bittersweet about the result after Les Rouges adjusted to the 2016 Euro quarterfinalists. 

“It was a strong performance from the players and they will be disappointed not to get the result,” Herdman said. “I think we had some good moments in the first half, but we struggled with the physicality and it was a bit of an adaptation from the two games prior, but clearly in the second half, we found a good rhythm and were the better team.”

The result could damage Canada’s hopes of making the Hexagonal round of Concacaf qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The six Hex teams will be determined by the June 2020 FIFA World Rankings, and Herdman’s team needs to accumulate every point.

At the moment, they’re seventh of all Concacaf countries in 73rd place overall and are chasing El Salvador (69th place). Canada’s scheduling more friendlies, but didn’t qualify for the semifinals of the Concacaf Nations League after finishing second in Group A behind the US men’s national team.

“We deserved something more after that second-half performance,” Herdman said. “It’s disappointing not to get the points we were hoping for.”

In all, Canada played nine MLS players: Crepeau (Montreal) in goal; Richie Laryea (Toronto FC) and Kamal Miller (Orlando City) in defense; Samuel Piette (Montreal), Liam Fraser (Toronto) and Jonathan Osorio (Toronto) in midfield; and Tesho Akindele (Orlando) and Ricketts (Vancouver) at forward. For substitutes, Theo Bair (Vancouver) entered in the second half, as did former Toronto left back Ashtone Morgan.

Since the match fell outside of a FIFA international window, Canada were without key players in Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich) and Jonathan David (KAA Gent).

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