Sports

Canada cruises past Cuba in Charlotte to reach Gold Cup quarterfinals

Canada’s Lucas Cavallini (19) slides after kicking the ball past Cuba goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez, left, during a Group A match in the 2019 Gold Cup at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Sunday.
Canada’s Lucas Cavallini (19) slides after kicking the ball past Cuba goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez, left, during a Group A match in the 2019 Gold Cup at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Sunday. The Charlotte Observer

Canada blasted its way into the 2019 Gold Cup quarterfinals with a 7-0 rout of Cuba at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday.

Canadians will advance on a goal differential even if Martinique pulls off a victory over unbeaten Mexico in Sunday’s second Group A game. They will play the Group B winner at 7 p.m. next Saturday in Houston.

The match got off to a quick start in the third minute when Jonathan David gave Canada its quickest Gold Cup goal. Canada seemed to struggle over the next 20 minutes. Canada made miscalculated passes into either space or a sea of Cuban players. Forward Lucas Cavallini broke the pattern with a goal in the 21st minute. Cavallini, who plays for Mexico’s Puebla, went on to close the first half with two more goals to complete his hat trick.

Canada opened the second half with another run at the Cuban goal. A distracted goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez left the Cuban net wide open. Canada’s Jonathan David took a shot, but defender Daniel Morejon blocked it. Junior Hoilett rebounded the ball and scored Canada’s fifth goal.

David, who plays for Ghent in Belgium, redeemed his miss by scoring two goals to finish the night off with a hat trick of his own and capping Canada’s blowout win.

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Three who mattered

Lucas Cavallini: The Canadian forward made his presence known with a hat trick in the first half, pushing Canada to a 4-0 halftime lead. His second and third goals were scored within two minutes of each other near the end of the half. Cavallini had scored Canada’s lone goal against Mexico in the last match. He has four goals in this tournament.

Jonathan David: The forward scored a hat trick of his own and had two assists against Cuba on Sunday night. The Canadian forward had played a role in the goals during the team’s first two matches. He scored two goals vs. Martinique and an assist vs. Mexico. He led the team with seven shots in the tournament, now 10.

Junior Hoilett: Coming off of Wednesday’s 4-0 win over Martinique where he contributed one goal, the Canadian forward had a single goal against Cuba and had two assists.

Observations

Canada simply outplayed Cuba. Canada outpassed Cuba 262 to 105 in the first half alone. Between 25 incomplete passes and playing into a sea of Cuban players, it was evident that the team was miscommunicating.

Despite a few errant passes and missed shots in the first half, Canada had a 91 percent passing accuracy while Cuba was 81 percent. Canada controlled possession 65 percent of the half. In the second half, the percentages barely fluctuated. Canada had a passing accuracy at 87 percent and controlled possession 62 percent of the second half.

After halftime, Mexico’s fans dominated the stands. By the last 10 minutes of the opening match, a majority of the stadium was filled primarily with El Tri fans.

Canada relies heavily on its passing game and score accuracy. The North American team exceeded its passes from the first half, reaching an overall game total of 483 compared to Cuba’s 235. Canada shot 22 time, 16 of those on goal, while Cuba shot 10 times and only four were on target.

David and Cavallini are the first pair of Canadian teammates to score a double hat trick in the same match in the Gold Cup.

Worth mentioning

Cuba failed to score in the 2019 Gold Cup. In its previous appearance in 2015, it scored once (Maikel Reyes vs. Guatemala). Cuba’s last win came in February, when it beat Bermuda 5-0 in an international friendly.

Heading into Sunday evening’s match, Canada and Cuba had met two other times in the Gold Cup, and each hold one win.

Canada’s active leading Gold Cup scorer Alphonso Davies (three goals) did not score during Sunday’s 7-0 victory over Cuba. He did have an assist.

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