July 20th, 2024

Five things to know as Canada meets Argentina in Copa America semifinal

By The Canadian Press on July 8, 2024.

After a dramatic win over Venezuela in the Copa America quarterfinal, the Canadian men’s soccer team takes on Argentina in a David versus Goliath semifinal Tuesday night. Canada midfielder Ismael Kone (8) celebrates with teammates after making the winning penalty kick against Venezuela at a Copa America quarterfinal soccer match in Arlington, Texas, Friday, July 5, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Richard Rodriguez

After a dramatic win over Venezuela in the Copa America quarterfinal, the Canadian men’s soccer team takes on Argentina in a David versus Goliath semifinal on Tuesday night (8 p.m. ET).

Here are five things to know for the match at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

DÉJÀ VU

The 48th-ranked Canadian men will seek their first-ever win against No. 1 Argentina, the reigning Copa America and World Cup champions led by global superstar Lionel Messi.

Canada will have a chance at redemption after losing 2-0 to Argentina to open the tournament on June 20.

Since then, the Canadians defeated Peru 1-0 and drew Chile 0-0 in group play before knocking out Venezuela 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes. Ismael Kone scored the decisive penalty after a third save by goalkeeper Maxime Maxime Crépeau in the sixth round.

The win sets up Canada’s third meeting against Argentina. The two sides first met at the senior level in May 2010 in Buenos Aires, where Argentina beat Canada 5-0.

Uruguay takes on Colombia in the other semifinal at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

ABOUT THE COPA

The Copa America is a quadrennial tournament between the top men’s teams in South America, although teams from North America and Asia have been invited to compete since the 1990s.

The year’s tournament, the 48th edition, is co-organized by CONMEBOL, the governing body of South American soccer, and CONCACAF, the governing body for North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

CONCACAF entered six guest teams – with only Canada left standing – to join 10 CONMEBOL countries for this year’s tournament hosted in the United States. The U.S., Canada and Mexico are set to co-host the World Cup in 2026.

BEGINNER’S LUCK?

Not only has Canada reached its first semifinal at the Copa America, but the Canadian men are also playing in the esteemed tournament for the first time.

Canada earned a trip to the 2001 Copa America in Colombia as a reward for winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2000 but did not attend after security concerns prompted organizers to call off the event before reinstating it.

Meanwhile, Argentina has hoisted the Copa America trophy 15 times, which ties Uruguay for the most ever.

MARITIMES MESSI

Canadian players Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David are becoming household names on the national team as stars in top European leagues. At the Copa, it’s Jacob Shaffelburg of Nashville SC in Major League Soccer making a name for himself.

The 24-year-old from Port Williams, N.S., is affectionately being called the “Maritimes Messi” for his recent displays in the Canadian shirt. After setting up David for a goal in the group stage, Shaffelburg scored in the 13th minute against Venezuela and threatened much of the night with dangerous runs down the wing to earn man-of-the-match honours.

Shaffelburg, who started the tournament on Canada’s bench, has three goals in 13 appearances for the national team.

HOT START FOR MARSCH

Canada’s sensational run through Copa makes for a dream start to Jesse Marsch’s tenure as manager. Hired in May as the successor to John Herdman, Marsch opened the job with a 4-0 loss to the Netherlands and a 0-0 draw with France in high-profile friendlies before the Copa-opening defeat to Argentina.

But Canada has not lost since and is about to play one the biggest games in the program’s history less than two months after Marsch took over.

Marsch earned experience coaching at the highest club level in England, Germany, Austria and North America before taking the Canada job.

After a lengthy playing career in the U.S., the 50-year-old from Racine, Wis., began his head-coaching career with MLS’s Montreal Impact, now CF Montreal, in 2012. He later managed RB Leipzig of the German Bundesliga in 2021 and Leeds United of the English Premier League in 2022.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2024.

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