Phonzie’s coming home.
Canada Soccer announced on Monday that the men’s national team will play in Vancouver this spring – their first visit since a World Cup qualifier against El Salvador in 2016. BC Place will host Canada’s next CONCACAF Nations League qualifying match against French Guiana on Sunday, March 24.
At stake is a spot in the 2019 Gold Cup, as well as a place in Group A of the 2019-20 CONCACAF Nations League.
“Vancouver has played host to some of the most important matches in Canada Soccer history that were some of the highest attended sporting events in Canadian history,” said Canada Soccer president Steven Reed. “We expect that this critical CONCACAF Nations League match will be no different.”
Vancouver has drawn over 20,000 people for each of the last three visits by the national team, including a crowd of 54,798 to see them take on Mexico in March 2016. Though not a World Cup qualifier this time around, one player on the pitch will be of particular interest to the hometown crowd.
The match will be a homecoming of sorts for Alphonso Davies, who has begun training with Bayern Munich after his time with the Vancouver Whitecaps. Now 18 years old, Davies plays an important role for Canada.
Hey Vancouver! 👋 @AlphonsoDavies has a message for you!
Tickets for the 🇨🇦🇬🇫 match go on sale this Wednesday!
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) November 26, 2018
The men’s national team has had a good run of play of late under new head coach John Herdman.
Canada finished 2018 with its first-ever perfect record, albeit in just four matches. Herdman led his team to four wins against New Zealand, US Virgin Islands, Dominica, and St Kitts and Nevis, outscoring teams 15-0 along the way. None of those teams are highly ranked, but you have to start from somewhere. Three teenagers, including Davies, started three consecutive competitive matches for the first time in program history.
Our country moved up three spots on the last FIFA world ranking, up to 76th.
Canada is perfect through their first three qualifying matches in Nations League qualifying, but still need a result to advance.
“We need to get a result to guarantee our spot in Group A of CONCACAF Nations League, so we are putting all our focus and attention on achieving that outcome,” said Herdman. “As the qualifying round progresses, you are facing nations from higher-seeded pots, so you know the matches will get harder.”
“It is always important to play at home so that our heroes in red shirts are visible to our young fans and supporters,” said Herdman. “For the players coming back into Canada, there is always that extra excitement playing on home soil, they know what it meant to them growing up to see the men’s national team playing in their communities. For us all, there’s no better feeling than seeing your stadium filled with red and hearing your fans singing the national anthem.”
What: CONCACAF Nations League qualifying
When: Sunday, March 24, 2019
Time: 3 pm PT
Where: BC Place, 777 Pacific Blvd, Vancouver
Tickets: Online, $20-60