Copa America Takeaways: Canada learns valuable lesson in loss to Argentina

Copa America Takeaways: Canada learns valuable lesson in loss to Argentina

You can only keep Lionel Messi off the scoresheet for so long, as Canada discovered to its peril on Tuesday night. 

Messi scored his first goal of the 2024 Copa América in the second half to cap off a 2-0 win for Argentina over Canada in the tournament semifinals before 80,102 fans at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. 

Manchester City’s Julián Álvarez also scored for Argentina, who’ll attempt to repeat as Copa América champions in Sunday’s final in Miami. The reigning World Cup champions will face the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal between Uruguay and Colombia. 

Despite its loss, Canada isn’t done, as it will play either Colombia or Uruguay in Saturday’s third-place match in Charlotte. 

Here’s a recap of Tuesday’s Copa América action.  


Argentina 2, Canada 0 in East Rutherford, New Jersey: Match report  


Canada learns valuable lesson against World champions 

Canada’s hopes of hoisting the Copa América were dashed with this result but not before the country earned a great deal of respect with its amazing run to the semifinals in its tournament debut. The Canadians’ performance at this prestigious competition has made the rest of the soccer world sit up and take notice. They’ll walk away with a great deal of pride, secure in the knowledge they can compete against the game’s best.    

They’ll also leave the Copa América having learned some valuable lessons. Foremost among them will be that you can never shut off. Not even for a second. And certainly, never against Lionel Messi and the world champions. Canada let its guard down twice and that led to both of Argentina’s goals on the night. Staying tuned in for the full 90 minutes is what separates the elite teams from the average ones. Canada learned this the hard way on Tuesday night. 

In the 23rd minute, Rodrigo De Paul had all kinds of time to linger in possession in the middle of the pitch before playing a slide rule pass that exploited the huge gap between defenders Alistair Johnston and Moïse Bombito. Julián Álvarez latched onto the ball, evaded a last-ditch tackle from Bombito and fired his shot through goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau. No Canadian player thought to try to close down De Paul, while Bombito should’ve done a much better job of dropping deep and anticipating the midfielder’s pass. 

Argentina doubled its lead early in the second half after Canada couldn’t clear its line off a corner kick. Messi netted his first goal of the tournament with a quick flick from close range off Enzo Fernández’s shot from just inside while several Canadian players were caught ball-watching.  

Lack of finishing continues to haunt Canada 

Goal scoring continues to be an issue for this Canadian team, a problem that has festered since the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar when it found the net just once and was officially eliminated after its second group-stage game. 

Canada managed to score twice at the Copa América, a paltry haul for a side that boasts attacking talent the calibre of Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies, Lille forward Jonathan David (one of the top scorers in the French league this season), and Cyle Larin, who plies his trade in Spain’s La Liga and is his country’s all-time top scorer. Yet, all three combined for one goal at this tournament — David scored in the 1-0 win over Peru in the first round. 

All three were wasteful in front of goal throughout this tournament, especially David, who looked totally ineffective against Argentina and was subbed out after 64 minutes. Canada recorded nine shots in total, but only two were on target, despite carving out some decent scoring opportunities against the South Americans. Jacob Shaffelburg scored in the quarterfinals against Venezuela, but failed to hit the target twice in the opening 20 minutes when he had good looks on goal after being played in by Larin and midfielder Stephen Eustáquio. 

Canada’s second shot on target didn’t come until the dying minutes of regulation when substitute Tani Oluwaseyi forced a save from Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez. Truth be told, the youngster couldn’t keep his cool and should have buried it. Minutes later, he had another quality scoring chance that he squandered by heading wide of the post. 

Canada created plenty of opportunities across its five games at this competition. Finishing them off was the problem. Argentina only registered one more shot on target, yet it bagged two goals. But again, therein lies the difference between Canada and top-tier nations, and it’s a gap the Canadians have to close if they have any hope of being competitive when it co-hosts the 2026 World Cup. 


Per Opta, Argentina has lost just one of 17 games when Ángel Di Maria has started in the Copa América (a 2-0 defeat to Colombia in the 2019 group stage). 


Chilean referee Piero Maza brandished five yellow cards (six, if you include the one he issued to Canadian coach Jesse Marsch). Maybe that shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise considering his history as a self-promoter: 


Brazilian legend Ronaldo, a two-time Copa América winner, took in Tuesday’s game at MetLife Stadium. 


1. Rodrigo De Paul (Argentina): The Atlético Madrid star collected an assist on Julián Álvarez’s opening goal and bossed things in midfield for the South Americans with his bright play. He also put in a solid defensive shift with four tackles and an interception. 

2. Julián Álvarez (Argentina): The Manchester City striker took his chance well in scoring the game’s opening goal and was a constant thorn in the side of Canada’s defence. 

3. Enzo Fernández (Argentina): He was near perfect with his distribution, completing 90 per cent of his passes and had a hand in setting up Messi’s goal. 


Wednesday’s semifinal between Colombia and Uruguay in Charlotte clash pits two teams that won their respective first-round groups and have gone unbeaten in the tournament to get to the final four. Colombia impressively beat out Brazil for first place in Group D before hammering Panama 5-0 in the quarterfinals. Uruguay cruised to the top of Group C with three consecutive wins before needing a penalty shootout to get past Brazil in the previous round.  

The Uruguayan defence has conceded just one goal but it is in for a tough test against a Colombian outfit that has bagged a tournament-high 11 goals. No less than eight different players have scored for Los Cafeteros. Uruguay centre back Ronald Araújo will miss this game after picking up an injury vs. Brazil game, while defender Nahitan Nández is suspended (red card in the quarter-finals).

Comments are closed.