With 2-0 loss to Mexico, Canada’s Gold Cup playoff hopes are all but officially dead

It's been a rough Gold Cup for the Canadian men's soccer team, which suffered a 2-0 loss to Mexico in Seattle Thursday night. Their run at the tournament, the biannual regional championship for CONCACAF (North and Central America and the Caribbean) got off to the worst possible start Sunday when they lost 1-0 to Martinique, a region of France that has one-sixth of Toronto's population, and the loss to Mexico means that they're all but certain to not make the knockout stages of the tournament. Perhaps even more importantly, the young Canadian team didn't show much of the promise that had been hoped for in their last tournament before new head coach Benito Floro takes over. If anything, their play suggested Floro's going to face a tremendous uphill battle.

To be fair to the Canadian team, they were rather depleted here. Captain Will Johnson was absent thanks to a stomach illness, while Simeon Jackson left to sign a club deal in England and Randy Edwini-Bonsu was unavailable thanks to injury. Still, Mexico's squad was also weaker than normal given their focus on World Cup qualifying, and they notably underachieved in an opening-game loss to Panama. If Mexico was ever going to be vulnerable, this might have been the time. It wasn't, though, as the lacklustre Canadian effort never truly put the Mexican side under threat.

This game was all in Mexico's favour, as the Mexicans recorded 12 shots to the Canadians' six and nine corner kicks to four while largely dominating possession. There were plenty of boneheaded defensive moments from Canada too, including poor marking all around on the 42nd-minute corner kick that created Raul Jimenez's opening goal and David Edgar's foolish challenge that led to a Marco Fabian penalty kick and Mexico's second goal in the 57th minute. The largely pro-Mexico crowd at CenturyLink Field undoubtedly didn't help Canada's cause, but hostile crowds are a fact of life in CONCACAF games, as are limited rosters. If these players are going to be the future of the Canadian senior team, they're going to have to rise to the occasion more than they did Thursday night.

With the loss, Canada's now 0-2 in the group, while Panama's 2-0, Mexico's 1-1 and Martinique's 1-1. Only the top two teams are guaranteed to advance, but the two best third-place teams from the four different groups earn a spot in the knockout round as well. However, with only one game remaining (a clash against Panama in Denver Sunday), zero points, zero goals for and a negative-three goal differential, it would take quite a miracle for Canada to move on here—and if their play Thursday is any indication, that miracle won't be coming in time to advance to the knockout stages. The real question is if there's a miracle around that can turn this team into a legitimate CONCACAF threat in time for the 2018 World Cup qualification campaign. We'll see what Floro has up his sleeves, but he certainly can't be pleased so far with the performance of the side he's about to take over.

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