As It Happens

Canadian men's soccer coach says win over U.S. promises bright future

Canadian men's soccer coach John Herdman says his team's win over the U.S. not only ended a 34-year winless streak against the Americans — it ushered in a bright future for the sport in Canada.

Coach John Herdman says he felt 'absolute pride' when his team ended a 34-year winless run against the U.S.

After more than a 30 year drought, the Canadian men's soccer team beat the U.S. on Tuesday night and head coach John Herdman says fans should expect more to come. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)


On Tuesday night, the Canadian men's soccer team made history. 

For the first time in 34 years, Canada beat the United States. The last time that happened it was 1985 — years before the young men who make up the team were born. 

The 2-0 victory over the Americans ended the decades-long drought, but it also helps position the team to qualify for a spot in the final four of CONCACAF Nations League.

As It Happens host Carol Off spoke to the team's head coach John Herdman about the historic win and why he hopes it signals a new era for the sport in Canada. Here is part of their conversation.

For you, personally, what was it like to beat the United States for the first time in 34 years?

It was just pride. Absolute pride. That feeling of we did it. You know, just at the end of the game, I've not cried much in the last 20 years, but yeah, a few tears.

So it was emotional. It really was emotional.

We had a tough World Cup and we took that hard as a group. To come out last night with the win — it was special, really special for everyone.

Canada midfielder Alphonso Davies celebrates a goal against the United States during second half of the historic game. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)

What was it like for those young fellows who just gave their all last night? What was the emotion around them?

The emotion was exactly what you'd expect with young men. They were loving it. You know, we had a great celebration back at the hotel. And on the field, just watching them celebrate with their fans, it was brilliant. They really stayed behind with the fans and got the drum going and that's what we want to feel in this country.

We all believe we can make this country feel proud of our football team and get all of the fans behind us. We need a few more results like this and nights like that. And I think we can really galvanize our men's team and men's soccer in this country.

When you talk about the fans, there was that scene of fans leaving BMO Field, leaving the stadium, after the match, all singing O' Canada at the tops top of their lungs.

Look, we know it's there. We know it's there. You know, as a group, we've talked about that. We just haven't given them those opportunities and they're there. They want to support us. And there's more.

But for 30 plus years, you know, it's been a while since we've really done something that the fans can get excited about and last night was one of those nights.

Only sport does this. You can do lots of other things in life but sport has a way of touching people and connecting people in ways. And we know we have that ability to really bring this country alive and it's just the start, hopefully. We want more of it and hopefully we can bring more to the fans.

These are very young men, aren't they? I mean, they were not alive, they were not born, in 1985, when Canada won this last time. They're just out of being kids, aren't they?

It's a very young team. It really is. You know we had 18, 19, 21. It is a young team and we had some wise heads out there, guys that have experienced that before.

So it was just exciting and exciting to see the older guys enjoying it as much as the young kids. They've been waiting for this for a long time and to be part of it with them — man, priceless. Priceless.

Coach Herdman says after defeating the United States the team is well-positioned to qualify for the final four of the CONCACAF Nations League. (Cole Burston/Canadian Press)

What are your hopes for the team now? Where do you go from here?

Well, we've just got to keep our feet on the ground. I mean it's just one result. And we've seen teams can have one result and it really means nothing outside of the excitement and the thrill of the final whistle blowing.

We have to take this forward now and I think the next step for this country is to go and do it again. But on U.S. soil, which will be in three weeks time to qualify for the final four of CONCACAF Nations League, where we'll play, hopefully, Mexico and Costa Rica. And then keep pushing to qualify for this World Cup.

I mean this was only a small step last night. But it was one our country has been waiting for.

Written by Sarah Jackson and John McGill. Interview produced by Sarah Jackson. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. 


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