The good: The Canadian men’s U-23s beat Panama 3-1 Saturday in Kansas City, evening their record at 1-1-0 in the group stage of Olympic qualifying. With a final group-stage game left against the Cubans, the Canadians are very much alive in their dream to make it to Rio 2016.
The bad: For the second game in a row, Canada’s Achilles heel was evident. We knew that when we saw coach Benito Floro’s roster — which was devoid of any true pro-level fullbacks — that the wings were going to be an issue for Canada. But, wow, is it ever a problem.
Canada went into halftime of Saturday’s game with a 2-0 lead. Panama was down to 10 men, as forward Carlos Small decided to elbow Anthony Jackson-Hamel in the head for what appeared to be no reason at all.
But, Panama was able to make it 2-1 after winger Abdiel Arroyo was able to blow around Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare and cross the ball to Edgar Barcenas for a tap-in goal. A few minutes later. Gagnon-Lapare — in as a makeshift left-back — was at sea again as Arroyo crossed the ball to Jorman Aguilar. Once again, it was in the back of the net; but, luckily, for the Canadians, Aguilar was a foot offside when the ball was played.
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