June 16th, 2024

Canada soundly beaten by the Netherlands in Jesse Marsch’s debut as Canadian coach

By The Canadian Press on June 6, 2024.

Netherlands' Ryan Gravenberch, top right, and Canada's Jonathan David, left, and Canada's Alistair Johnston, sliding, vie for the ball during the international friendly soccer match between The Netherlands and Canada at De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Thursday, June 6, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Patrick Post

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands – Jeremie Frimpong scored a goal and set up another as the Netherlands showed its class, blanking Canada 4-0 Thursday to spoil Jesse Marsch’s debut as Canadian men’s soccer coach.

Memphis Depay, Wout Weghorst and Virgil van Dijk also scored for the seventh-ranked Dutch in the high-profile friendly at Stadion Feijenoord.

The 49th-ranked Canadians started well, pressing the Dutch, and it was even for much of the first half. But the Dutch precision passing began to take its toll and Canada found itself under pressure as the scoreless half ended.

The home side dominated the second half, continuing to come forward and making Canada pay.

Depay put the Netherlands ahead in the 50th minute, knocking home a perfect Frimpong cross. Canadian star fullback Alphonso Davies, making his debut as captain, gave the Bayer Leverkusen right back too much space to deliver the cross.

It was Depay’s 45th goal for his country. Only the retired Robin van Persie (50) has scored more.

Frimpong doubled the lead in the 57th, getting behind Davies. The Canadian fullback got back in time to block his first shot attempt but the ball came back to Frimpong, who curled it in from a tight angle for his first goal in his third national team appearance.

Weghorst made it 3-0 in the 63rd minute, punishing goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair when he could not hold on to a Jerdy Schouten shot. Weghorst was Johnny-on-the-spot as the ball came straight to him. The Canadians had nine defenders in the box but could not prevent the goal.

The six-foot-four Van Dijk added to the Canadian pain in the 83rd minute, scoring on a simple header after Canada failed to clear a corner.

St. Clair started in goal behind a backline of Alistair Johnston, Derek Cornelius, Moise Bombito and Davies. The midfield was Stephen Eustaquio, Ismael Kone, Tajon Buchanan and Liam Millar with Jonathan David and Cyle Larin up front.

It was just a fifth Canadian appearance for both St. Clair and Bombito.

Marsch made four changes from Canada’s last outing, a 2-0 win over No. 98 Trinidad and Tobago in a March Copa America qualifier under interim coach Mauro Biello with St. Clair, Bombito, Cornelius and Millar slotting in.

Nine of the Canadian starters play their club football in Europe, with only St. Clair (Minnesota United) and Bombito (Colorado Rapids) plying their trade In Major League Soccer.

The Canadian starting 11 went into the match with 334 combined caps. The average age of the side was 25, with Larin the oldest starter at 29.

The Dutch starting 11 included Bart Verbruggen (Brighton & Hove Albion), defenders Micky van de Ven (Tottenham Hotspur) and midfielder Ryan Gravenberch (Liverpool). Daley Blind (Girona) captained the side.

The talent available to Dutch manager Ronald Koeman was on display when van Dijk came off the bench in the 72nd minute. The Liverpool captain cost his club 75 million pounds ($131.1 million) when he came over from Southampton in January 2018 for a then-world-record transfer fee for a defender.

Marsch and the Canadians wore armbands emblazoned with a poppy, marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day. The 50-year-old American, named coach on May 13, showed he knew “O Canada” in adding his voice to the anthem with others.

Marsch’s coaching resume includes Leeds United, RB Leipzig, Red Bull Salzburg, New York Red Bulls and the Montreal Impact (now CF Montreal). His last job was at Leeds, which fired him in February 2023 after a year in charge.

The Canadians worked hard from the get-go, using an aggressive press to corral the Dutch. Millar shot high in the ninth minute after taking a feed from Davies, who had joined the attack.

Eustaquio, Johnston and Cornelius all made important first-half blocks to deny dangerous Dutch shots. At the other end, Larin’s shot off a Millar cross went just wide of the Dutch post.

St Clair made saves on Frimpong and Brian Brobbey to deny two good goal-scoring chances late in the half.

Jacob Shaffelburg came on to start the second half with Dominick Zator, Charles-Andreas Brym, Junior Hoilett, Mathieu Choiniere and Samuel Piette following off the bench.

Canada next faces No. 2 France in Bordeaux on Sunday.

The games are warm-ups for Canada’s Copa America campaign, which opens June 20 against World Cup champion Argentina. The Netherlands and France are preparing for Euro 2024, which kicks off June 14 in Germany.

The Dutch had won six of their eight previous matches (6-0-2) prior to Canada, losing only to France and Germany by 2-1 scores. They host No. 72 Iceland on Monday.

Canada and the Netherlands had met just once before, with the Dutch winning 3-0 at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium in June 1994 in the run-up to the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2024.

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