Mark-Anthony Kaye must’ve been excited to return to BMO Field to play for the team in red that expected to win on that pitch. It didn’t happen on Tuesday night, and Jamaica served up some cold lessons for the Canadian men’s national team to learn.
“There’s too much quality to be like ‘ah, we missed a window and we’re not cohesive’” Kaye told reporters in the post-game mix zone. “We didn’t manage the game as well as we could’ve.
“The guys did really well in the first half and we let it get away from us in the second half.”
Canada scored first on Tuesday thanks to superstar Alphonso Davies but saw their 2-1 first-leg advantage erased by three second-half Jamaican goals in a span of 16 minutes to lose 3-2 on the night and fall 4-4 on aggregate via the away goals rule.
Related Read: Canada miss chance to automatically qualify for Copa América with CONCACAF Nations League quarter-final loss to Jamaica
It’s easy to forget now, but Canada took control of the match early and looked far more comfortable than they did playing under the hot sun and on the high grass in Kingston on Saturday morning. CanMNT were considerably better than the team that was played off the pitch in Japan last month.
But for all the swagger and individualistic flair — or arrogance — that was on display from Canada in the first hour, the final half an hour did Canada in and has most likely cost interim head coach Mauro Biello the full-time CanMNT head coaching job.
Related Read: Is interim CanMNT head coach Mauro Biello to blame for Canada’s CONCACAF Nations League quarter-final exit?
“We need to do better at understanding how to manage games,” Kaye said. “Mistakes happen, that’s part of football, but how do we respond to them? How do we adapt when a team is pushing the tempo? We didn’t do a good enough job today. It’s frustrating.”
The decisive moment on Tuesday night was Jamaica’s game winning penalty that was awarded after a lengthy VAR review deemed CanMNT star Stephen Eustáquio to have handled the ball in the box. When asked what he thought of the penalty call, Kaye didn’t mince words.
“It’s CONCACAF,” Kaye immediately replied with a stare. “These refs are playing more prominent roles in these games than we’ve ever seen.”
The former TFC midfielder, who was dealt to the New England Revolution in July for Latif Blessing, started on the bench and was brought into the match for Ismaél Koné in the 74th minute as part of Biello’s criticized triple substitution. Bobby Cordova-Reid converted the penalty to score Jamaica’s go-ahead goal just four minutes later. Canada could not find an equalizer but Kaye did not make excuses.
“We have to hold each other accountable,” Kaye said. “We just have to look at ourselves and figure out how we’re going to hold ourselves accountable all the time.”
“It’s frustrating but we still have an opportunity and that’s what we have to focus on.”
Canada will face Trinidad and Tobago in a one-game playoff in March at FC Dallas’ Toyota Stadium for a chance to qualify for next summer’s expanded Copa América, which will include six CONCACAF nations.