How Canada Reacted To Its Most Famous Victory In 19 Years

On Wednesday morning, Canadian residents awoke to extensive coverage of the massive sporting news: Toronto had defeated Minnesota 4-2, the Habs lost to Tampa Bay 3-1, Winnipeg succumbed to Arizona 4-2, Calgary thumped the Flyers 3-1 and the Canucks battered the Red Wings 5-1. What’s more, Donald Trump had welcomed a heavy concentration of Canadians to the White House on Tuesday in the form of the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. 

Trump congratulated the Blues on the stock market being way up, an agriculture deal with China and a Mike Pence trip to Turkey.

Buried beneath it all — and sometimes even beneath a selective paywall (as was the case in The Globe and Mail) — was a similar headline splashed across The Star, The Sun and Le Journal: each one referenced the end of a 34-year curse that’d been broken at BMO Field in Toronto.

In a strange twist of fortune, for perhaps the first time ever, a match between the USMNT and Canada actually meant more to Americans than denizens of the True North. That circumstance made the result — and the consequential fallout — all the more bizarre.

A crowd of 17,126 had been on hand at the 25,000-seat stadium, which was still a pretty strong turnout considering the circumstances: It was a Tuesday with a 7:30 kick off. It was the Concacaf Nations League. More importantly, Torontonians will fill BMO Field for Saturday’s MLS Cup playoff match against Wayne Rooney’s D.C. United. Toronto FC endeared itself to the city by delivering an MLS Cup in 2017; the men’s national team hadn’t endeared itself to the public since the 1904 Olympic Games. 

But after the performance Tuesday night, spearheaded by unplayable 18-year-old winger Alphonso Davies (who accented his performance with the game’s first goal), Canada is awakening from its long slumber. 

“That is my biggest goal,” Davies said. “Especially against the U.S. Right now, I have a million emotions running through me. I’m happy to be able to score the goal to help my team get the win. I’m happy we got the win tonight and to score the goal is outstanding.

“This win means a lot; it shows that Canada is on a new wave of soccer. We have a new wave of footballers coming through and we were happy we were able to get the win here tonight. I felt good being able to use my speed. Overall I just wanted to help the team and I’m happy I was able to. Everyone is excited, it’s been over 30 years that we haven’t been able to beat them.”

Even though fellow 19-year-old attacking phenom Jonathan David squandered three glorious opportunities to join the Bayern Munich winger on the scoresheet, other young players were showered with praise.

24-year-old Toronto FC full back Richie Laryea reduced Christian Pulisic to tears. 21-year-old Vancouver Whitecaps defender Derek Cornelius — who started all of 16 games in 2019 — shut down Josh Sargent. 24-year-old defensive midfielder Samuel Piette bossed Weston McKennie and Cristian Roldan. 

Toronto FC might pay Bradley $6 million per year and Jonathan Osorio $750K, but it was Osorio who dictated that battle. 

For better or for worse, the bar has been set for Canada. A trip to the 2022 World Cup is now the expectation. For the U.S., the bar has completely disappeared over the course of two years. 

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