Canada coach praises Copa run, sets priorities as 2026 World Cup looms


Canada made “incredible strides” in their run to the Copa America semi-finals, but still have much to do to compete with the world’s top teams as the country prepares to co-host the 2026 World Cup, coach Jesse Marsch said on Wednesday.


Developing more Canadian-born talent at a younger age and encouraging current players to be more vocal leaders on and off the pitch would help them on the international stage, the former Leeds United manager said a day after their 2-0 loss to World Cup winners Argentina.


“We’re establishing things at some high levels. But in order to be a real team that can hold up to the biggest moments and biggest matches, there’s more work to be done,” said Marsch, who took over just five weeks ahead of the Copa America tournament.


“Physically, mentally, intellectually, we’ve got to find a way to develop players faster.”


“When you play Argentina, when you play France, and you can see the speed of play and the power at which the best players play, that’s where we need to go.”


“We actually have the athletes in this country. We need to now develop them in a way where they understand high-level football.”


With an eye on Saturday’s third-place match against Uruguay or Colombia, Marsch ran a training session on Wednesday morning with players that did not start Tuesday’s semi-final.


He is still evaluating who will start that game, but he said some non-starters have clearly earned the honour and would benefit from playing elite opponents.


Marsch said Alphonso Davies’s x-rays were “negative” after he suffered a foot injury in Tuesday’s match, but it was unclear if he would be able to feature in Saturday’s game.


Canada’s storybook run to the Copa America semi-final marked their deepest run at a major tournament outside the Gold Cup, an experience that Marsch said he hopes will inspire a love of soccer in the hockey-mad nation.


“We want to inspire the nation. We want to develop the sport in the country. We want people to remember this as a moment in time that changed the trajectory of what this sport is in Canada.”


(Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by Toby Davis)

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