Ottawa's Jonathan David leading Canadian men at CONCACAF Gold Cup
19-year-old striker leads all scorers with 5 goals heading into tonight's action
Ottawa's Jonathan David is set to play the biggest game of his young soccer career.
The 19-year-old, who was playing club soccer in Ottawa just a couple years ago, will be on the pitch this evening when Canada faces Haiti in quarter-final action at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The Canadians cleared the group stage of the tournament — which consists of teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean — in second place.
They were fuelled by five goals from David, who leads all scorers in the tournament so far.
In addition to being a critical member of the Canadian men's team, David is also playing professionally in Belgium for KAA Gent. He spoke with CBC Ottawa Friday from Houston, where tonight's Gold Cup match gets underway at 7 p.m. ET.
Parts of the interview have been edited for length and clarity.
CBC: Jonathan, you're getting used to playing big games on the world stage, but the Gold Cup is a prestigious tournament. What are you feeling right now?
David: I'm feeling good because, you know, I love playing football and that's what I'm doing. So for me it's not about pressure — it's more about enjoying the moment.
CBC: It isn't every day Canadians flourish on the offensive side of the game, but you're the leading scorer right now for the tournament. Your teammate Lucas Cavallini is second. Where are you finding this scoring punch?
David: I think it was everything coming together at the right time, because we feel like we have a good group with a lot of good attacking players. So I think it's not a problem for us to score.
CBC: You're of Haitian descent and you'll be playing against Haiti in this game. Does that present a special opportunity for you?
David: Yes. Definitely it's a special game, because it's not every day you get to play against the country where you lived when you were younger. But I still need to go there with the mindset that I have to do a job for my country and play for my country and try to do my best.
CBC: What do you remember about living in Haiti as a boy? Do you have many strong memories of that time?
David: I have memories, of course. When I was with my family, playing soccer on the street, having fun with my friends.
CBC: Haiti has had a good tournament so far. What do you expect from them?
David: I expect this will be a very hard game because, obviously, I know [they have] a hunger for this. And they believe in it and they can get an opportunity. They're going to be very strong on the counterattack, very fast, physical, and just all over the pitch.
I think we'll just have to be ready, organized, and play our game.
CBC: The success you guys have created this season is pretty remarkable. Do you think you're on the verge of something special here?
David: I think so because, within the group, we all know this is maybe one of the best Canadian teams we've ever had. We know that we have the talent, and we know right now it's just about hard work and discipline and dedication to the game.
And that's what we're working on here with [head coach John Herdman] and everyone on the team: [pushing] to get to that next level because we know, with the team we have now, we can do it.
CBC: You've been playing in Belgium, and I wonder if living away from home as a young man and pursuing a professional soccer dream has prepared you for what you're doing now..
David: Yes, of course, because before that I was still playing in Ottawa for just a local club. So of course, that was a massive step for my career.
I had to grow up faster and learn things on my own. I just had to adapt quicker and learn the game. Because over there, they don't wait for you to get better. You just have to get better on your own. And I think that really helped me develop as a player and get to where I am today.