1986. 36 years ago.
Personal home computers were only just becoming a thing. The internet was something that only existed in a few top research facilities. Phones were attached to cables in the walls of your home. Wayne Gretzky was a young superstar.
And the Canadian men's national soccer team was in the World Cup.
Since then, eight World Cups have been played, and Canada has really never even been close to qualifying again. But on Sunday, on a frigid BMO Field in Toronto, Canada used a 4–0 drubbing of Jamaica to finally get themselves a return trip to the biggest sporting event on Earth.
Canada is finally going back to the World Cup!
They say that good things come to those who wait. And seeing as few have waited longer than Canadian soccer fans to for this moment, this Canadian team has indeed been very good. They haven't just squeaked in through good fortune and defence. They are dominating their regional group (called CONCACAF, which contains countries in North and Central America, as well as the Caribbean).
With one match to play, they are tops in their group, with eight wins, four draws, and just one loss. They are almost certain to finish first after their final match is played this Wednesday against Panama. This is extremely rare coming from a region where Mexico and the United States have tended to win regularly.
So how are they doing it? Are they borrowing some magic gold dust from the Olympic champion Canadian women? Perhaps. But this Canadian men's team is no fluke. Let's see why!
More than Fonzie
If you've heard anything about Canada's national soccer team, it's likely come down to this name: Alphonso Davies.
Davies, or 'Fonzie', is not just Canada's best player. He's the best in all of CONCACAF—a global star who has already won everything in sight playing for Bayern Munich, one of the top clubs in Europe. But here's the thing. As great as Fonzie is, he's actually missed the last five games that Canada has played due to an injury. Which means, this terrific team is about way more than just one player!
It showed yesterday versus Jamaica. Canada's front line of Cyle Larin, Tajon Buchanan, and Jonathan David terrorized the pitch. The midfield players, Junior Hoilett, Jonathan Osorio, and Stephen Eustáquio, controlled play beautifully with pinpoint passes and strong tackling. And on the wings, Sam Adekugbe and Richie Laryea pestered defenders all match with their speed and relentless drive.
From top to bottom, this team means business!
The big stage
With their ticket to Qatar secured, all that is left is to wait. And it will be a longer wait than normal.
Usually, the World Cup is played during the summer. But with Qatar being a country that experiences intense summer heat, the competition has been moved to 28 days to November and December 2022.
But when you've waited 36 years, what's another few months? For now, let's bask in this incredible achievement and a bright future ahead (may we remind that the next World Cup in 2026 will be co-hosted by Canada!).
If you're new to all of this excitement and want a primer on how they did it, check out this video.