Canada pushed into play-in series for Copa América 2024


Story by Richard Scott

Canada will need to win a one-match play-in series next March to qualify for the CONMEBOL Copa América for the first time in program history. Canada were relegated to the 2024 Concacaf Play-In Series after they were pushed out of the Concacaf Nations League Quarterfinals from a November home-and-away series with Jamaica.

Canada lost on away goals after the series was tied 4-4 on aggregate across 180 minutes, combining a Saturday morning 2:1 away win with a Tuesday night 2:3 home loss. In March 2024, Canada, Costa Rica, Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago will compete in the Copa América Play-In Series in Frisco, Texas while Jamaica, Mexico, Panama and USA (who all qualified for Copa América) will compete in the 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League Finals in Arlington, Texas.

Jonathan David and Stephen Eustáquio were Canada’s Saturday goalscorers in Jamaica while Alphonso Davies and Ismaël Koné were the Tuesday goalscorers in Toronto. Jamaica’s Shamar Nicholson scored once at home and twice on the road before Bobby Reid scored the series winner from the penalty spot.

Canada had a 3-1 series lead in the first half of the second leg in Toronto, but they failed to put the series out of reach and they were stopped several times by standout goalkeeper André Blake. Blake made notable big saves in the ninth and 14th minutes against Davies and Cyle Larin before Davies finally beat him for the 3-1 series lead in the 25th minute.

In the second half of the second leg, Jamaica turned things around scored three times in less than 20 minutes. Their pressure started with an open chance in the 48th minute that Leon Bailey somehow hit the crossbar instead of the open net. Jamaica finally broke through in the 62nd minute after Damion Lowe tackled Stephen Eustáquio from behind and then played in Nicholson for their first of three goals in Toronto.

Less than four minutes later, Bobby Reid pushed Koné to the ground and took the ball up field on a counter attack that ended with Nicholson third goal in two matches.

Canada took back their lead in the 69th minute when Koné headed in a cross from Davies, but the lead was short lived until Reid scored the series winner from the penalty spot in the 78th minute. Jamaica won the penalty kick when Lowe flicked the ball off the ground and into Eustáquio’s arm.

Canada had the man advantage for the last part of the match after Jamaica’s Demarai Gray was shown two yellow cards from the referee César Ramos, but they were unable to beat the Jamaica defence and goalkeeper Blake. Without the extra goal, Canada were eliminated from Concacaf Nations League because they had fewer away goals than Jamaica.

Canada have never participated in the CONMEBOL Copa América, which only 30 years ago began to include non-CONMEBOL nations in the biennial South American Championship. The 2024 CONMEBOL Copa América will be played in the United States with all 10 CONMEBOL teams plus six Concacaf nations. This 2024 CONMEBOL Copa América runs from 20 June to 14 July.

In the 2024 Copa América Play-In Series, Canada will face Trinidad and Tobago while Costa Rica will face Honduras with both matches to be played on Saturday 23 March at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas near Dallas. Kick off times and ticketing information will be announced at a future date.

​Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team have recently finished as runners up in 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League and reached the Quarterfinals at the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup. Just one year ago, Canada returned to the men’s FIFA World Cup for the first time in 36 years after they finished first in the 2021-22 Concacaf Final Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Canada previously won titles when they lifted the Greg Kafaty Trophy at the 1985 Concacaf Championship and the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2000. ​