First of, cheers must be given out to the quality presentation that TSN gave us throughout the tournament.
Yes, most of the games were feeds from Foxsports, but the important thing is that they carried all the games. The prior Gold Cups on Sportsnet were, at best, an overlooked production. We had to suffer through the mispronounced names and the ‘uh, pardon me’ of Gerry Dobson all too often. Sportsnet treated North American soccer almost with disdain and definitely as a tertiary product with marginally equal production. They only ever showed the Canada games, and sometimes that on a delay. Fine, you could say not many would watch the Panama – Costa Rica game live, and TSN didn’t broadcast this game on air either, but TSN did carry it on their online platform.
But TSN made the games available. The home production of the play by play and the studio set up were good. Luke Wileman, Kelsey Brad, Terry Dunfield, and Steve Caldwell presented a well rehearsed and insightful team. While I didn’t always agree with their comments, it is wonderful to have local Canadian talent (Dunfield) make contributions.
The full tournament became available to all to watch the level of soccer that exists in North America. It’s not the best. But it is a perspective that viewers and MLS fans grossly lack.
We saw a bitter fight from El Salvador during the quarter final, a game that pushed the lines of sportsmanship but also gave us some wonderful fútbol. We saw strong defensive flair from Jamaica, a team only known for their speed. And we saw the depth of the american and Mexican teams.
And in this wild mix of talent, determination, fight, and spirit we saw the rise of the Canadian team. We witnessed fighting spirit, attacking spirit, and attacking guile. But most importantly was the execution of the tactics created by Oscar Zambrano for this youthful team. After a sterile World Cup Qualifier attempt Canada really needed a rejuvenation of the team as far as players and overall attitude. We hope that through Zambrano we have come to a new and more productive phase of soccer in Canada.
And it falls to a very young generation of players whom are given the responsibility to raise the standard of Canadian soccer and claim back the modicum of dignity that was given to the nation in the eyes of the world. Among all the youth, players like Petrasso, Jackson-Hamel, Cavellini, to name a few, is the rising talent that is Alphonso Davies.
His is that rare breed that is born with the understanding of the game. This young man does not need to be coached like a typical MLS product. The likes of Hurtado, Parker, Harvey need to learn the patience and timing that fills the 90 minutes. Davies has the innate understanding of timing in the game; knowing when to accelerate, when to pause and turn; when to drift into space are complex parts of the game that he has.
What he lacks is ball control, a bit of vision, and guile. The minutes earned in the Gold Cup gave Davies a taste of the guile and sneaky play that can elevate a player. As well, he was taught the speed international fútbol is played at.
His control is typical of a young player and this is easy to defend. The respect given him in the MLS is starting to wane and he is being closed down faster. This means his ball control is exposed and is resulting in turnovers. The Gold Cup should have taught speed of thought decision making.
Alphonso Davies is terribly young, and needs to quickly find a better team if he’s to meet his potential. We have seen what the Whitecaps lack in development through Manneh and Davies must leave. If he stays longer than necessary he will stagnate and his bad habits will flourish.