Some loosely connected thoughts on the game…
- So a minute in and as you’d expect with U17’s, nerves are trying to be calmed by battering the ball forward with much force and little purpose (sadly, having now seen the whole game this would prove to be all too common from both teams throughout).
- Sean Fleming looks worried in the second minute. Maybe he’s concerned that he misread some of the BCPL material he was sent a few months back?
- One thing I’ve started doing when I watch youth games is count how many times a team can string together three or more passes in the opposing half. You’d be surprised at how little this happens in some games like Girls Metro where the athleticism of the players allows pressuring of the ball to pay disproportional dividends as speed overwhelms technique. I’ve made notes on how often Canada was able to do this against England and early doors it wasn’t looking terribly good.
- Canada string together about 15 passes in the 3rd minute but most are at the back in their defensive third beyond the line of England’s pressing and thus uncontested. As soon as a ball is played along the ground into midfield, a poor touch relieves Canada of possession and is quickly followed by a tactical foul by Aleman (who gave the ball away). The foul was quite smart as it neatly defused a potentially dangerous 2v1 down Canada’s right side in exchange for a free kick that was too far out to be dangerous.
- In the fifth minute Canada managed four intentional passes in England’s half before giving the ball away unnecessarily.
- Nathan Raymond looks sharp for England. Twice he’s done a great turn in Canada’s def third. (sole turn with 270 degree spin that takes him past the defender). He could prove dangerous.
- Poor clearance leads corner which leads to another poor clearance which leads to good shot from Eng that forced a good save and a desperate lunge or two by Cdn defenders to deal with the rebound. If Canada are going to defend this much and be exposed down the flanks as they have been, at the very least their clearances need to be better.
- Cdn actually look more composed in the attacking third than you’d expect given the awkwardness of the build up play in the middle third. Linking with strikers is poor but once it does get there, there does appear to be a willingness to make the most of it.
- 18th min: four passes for Canada in the attacking half but all they get from it is a poor cross that goes out for goal kick
- 20th min: same but this time it leads to a dangerous counter by England (below)
- The quality of passing and shooting from both teams is surprisingly poor to this point (17th minute). Both teams are really only looking dangerous when they run at defenders with the ball rather than with any sort of penetrating pass. England look good down both flanks and Canada look at their best when running at the centrebacks.
- Gasparotto, Canadian defender, is supposedly being looked at by AC Milan but he just got burned by an English striker, Morgan,who simply ran past him as England caught Canada on a counter. No move. No change of direction. Just ran by him and forced a good save by Quillan Roberts.
- Ref doing great job allowing game to flow and not being fooled by players on both team diving.
- Halfway through the half Eng have 9 attempts at goal to Canada’s one. This can’t continue or a goal by England is certain and a rebuttal from Canada is doubtful.
- Nick Powell, England’s striker/attacking mid is easily the classiest player on the field. Very smooth and quick with the ball at his feet. Nathan Redmond, for me, is the next best player on the field.
- 29th: about 4 passes for Canada in English half; dispossessed at top of box
- 32nd: several good passes, ball once again goes wide to the right to Seymour and his cross is cut out again. His best ball into the box has, strangely, been a long throw he’s launched in!
- 36th; four plus passes then cut out about 35 yards out from goal
- 38th: same as above; possession and passing is getting better from Canada but very poor or no service into the box each time
- 40th minute; good poss but end product is another easily cleared cross
- 43rd min: decent penetration after more good passing but no real threat to England
- Canada did really well in the last ten mins of the half and carried play. Still, no real chances were created from their possession and with England looking considerably more dangerous they simply can’t afford the poor crosses and lack of penetration once they get within sniffing distance of goal.
- If I’m giving the half time talk for Canada:
- 1v1 defending has to be better out wide. They are putting too many good balls into our box
- Keep playing with confidence in the attacking third and either run at their central defenders or, if wide, make sure you get service into the box
- Must win 50-50 balls in the middle third
- Avoid giving up cheap corner kicks
- 2nd half
- England score right off the bat even though Canada have the kick off. As the commentator said, totally clumsy, unnecessary foul by Essa. Concedes free kick from dangerous area that leads to goal. Service in is perfect. Clears Alderson marking near post space and drops to Morgan who may or may not have got a touch but he nevertheless freezes Roberts meaning that the ball goes into the far post on the bounce. Well executed free kick. Canada defended it reasonably well. Alderson, in hindsight, should have dropped in closer to goal so the ball couldn’t be flighted in behind him. You’ve got to position yourself so that you can be first to any ball played to the near post
- Canada equalize minutes later! Jalali’s goal is a striker’s goal. Checks the line to make sure he’s onside and knows the left back has lazily not gotten back goal side so he’s got a clear path to goal.
- It was Alderson though, who was Canada’s most constructive player in the first half, who was pivotal in the build up play and lays the ball to Aleman for the strike at goal. Essa’s great work to win the ball back set up the classic transition goal as he moved the ball to Alderson quickly who got it to Aleman while Jalali positioned himself beyond the England defender but onside. Two passes, strike on goal, rebound, 1-1.
- Pickford, in goal, makes a good initial save and is up quick for the rebound (that was a bit too meaty really) but never gets his feet set and overruns past the near post allowing Jalali to calmly slot as he flies past and out of the frame.
- From there the second half settled into a more cautious tense affair that is a more measured, safer version of the first half with both teams committing fewer players forward but England still looking the more dangerous just less often and with less determination. Long stretches of dullness prevail.
- Blair Turgott had only been on the field for England about ten minutes before smashing that dullness with a neat run across the top of the box and belting one in. This is what had been lacking in the game since Canada scored; a decisive run to set up a strike at goal. Defensively, Turgott wasn’t closed down well enough and Turgott used the prone Alderson as a pick nicely to lose Gasparotto and then stride away from Alderson enough to get his shot away. Had Gasparotto
been able to continue tracking Turgott he would have been in a better position to get a block in on the shot.
- What do you say about Quillan Roberts equalizer? You’ll likely never see a goal like that again with a keeper scoring from open play with over five minutes to play. While it’s largely a fluke it does speak to my complaint of Canada in the first half: none of their balls into the box created any danger. This one did. The challenge for the ball at the top of the box from #9 drew the centreback to the ball but England couldn’t clear it and a bouncing ball in the box is always potential trouble.
Very happy to see Canada get a point out of this. The English F.A. will get flayed alive for this though as there has been a massive effort in recent years to re-build their youth development program and this really needs at least a point against Uruguay on the weekend to be sure of advancing.
Canada will really need to press Rwanda in their next game though as they have a three goal deficit to overcome thanks to the 3-0 opening loss against Uruguay. Four points and a decent goal difference might see them through as one of the four best third place teams.