Heading into the Copa America, the goal for Canada was to win a game. They did just that.  It wasn’t pretty and they needed a Peru red card to get them going. However, as the old saying goes: A win is a win.

It was also blazing hot at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City.  It was over 30 degrees Celsius at kick-off. The stadium was as hot as the lava on Mustafar. Even just watching it on TV, you could probably feel how hot it was. 

It was so hot that before the end of the first half, the assistant referee fell over and had to leave the game. Can’t imagine playing soccer or officiating in that heat.

The game was hot, like the weather. There was a lot of physicality in this one.  

Apologies for the post-game being up very late. The Area 51 Sports Network website was down as you may or may not know. I also wanted to try a different format.

#1: Really poor first half

The first half was one of the worst halves Canada played in a long time. It was just as bad as watching the England game against Slovenia earlier in the day. From the get-go, they struggled against Peru’s press. They were struggling with the passes and the counterattacks kept fizzling out.

Canada did not manage a single shot on target in the first half. Cyle Larin and Jonathan David were not offering anything upfront. The two-striker system clearly isn’t working. Larin is too isolated up top and David drops back but hardly creates anything for himself or Larin.

The backline of Alister Johnston, Moise Bombito, Derek Cornelius and Richie Lareya provided chaos. While they were managing to clear the ball away and make tackles in the box, they were leaving a lot of space for Peru to attack.

It was a really lacklustre and sloppy first half by Canada. To make things worse, Peru got away with a red card after Marcos López headbutted Johnston. The referee went to VAR and did not issue a red card or even a yellow. Ok, so headbutts are allowed now? Zinedine Zidane must be fuming if he watched that. Even after going to VAR, I’m not sure how the referee thought not handing out a card was 

Nothing was going right for Canada in the first half.

#2: Jacob Shaffelburg needs to start for Canada more often

After the Argentina game, I’ve been clamouring for Jacob Shaffelburg to start more. After the Peru game, I am still doing that.

Shaffelburg came on at halftime and helped change the game. (The red card to Miguel Araujo in the 59th minute also helped. At least VAR got that one right.) His speed and passes down the wing really helped the Canadians get their offensive group back. Shaffelburg was all like: “Gotta go fast!” every time he got the ball.

He got the assist on David’s winning goal with a burst of speed and a superb pass. At this rate, the native of Halifax, Nova Scotia will leave Nashville SC sooner or later.

This pass was picture-perfect.

Shaffelburg has proven so far in the Copa Amerca that he is a key part of Canada’s attack.

#3: Crépeau stands tall

Canada would have been in big trouble without the saves from Maxime Crépeau. The Portland Timbers goalkeeper stopped four Peruvian shots and all of them were huge.

He helped weather the early Peru storm.

During the final moments of the game, he helped seal the win for Canada.

The expected goals were 2.01 to 0.62 in favour of Canada, according to FotMob. Peru clearly got the better chances and Crépeau with his saves.

He has had stellar games against France, Argentina and now Peru. It is clear that Crépeau will be the starter for Canada going forward. He’s come a long way since he injured his leg in the 2022 MLS Cup final.

Up next

Argentina beat Chile 1-0 and Canada currently sits second in Group A. Up next is Chile and kickoff is at 5:00 pm on Saturday. A win or draw would put them through to the knockout stages.

There is a lot to learn from the win over Peru and a lot to build on as well.