Ahead of a women's friendly soccer match in Toronto on Sunday, the Canadian Soccer Association held a news conference to announce a senior men's game in September.
This would have made more sense to do at a men's event – there's a game on Tuesday in Montreal. But in Canada, soccer at the international level – out on the field, at least – is an entirely female-dominated enterprise. If the men's team counted on its own star power as a draw, its news conference could be comfortably accommodated in a bathroom stall.
Sunday's women's game drew 20,628 at BMO Field. The men's game in two days hopes to draw half that. "Hopes" being the key word.
"We have a ways to go," CSA general secretary Peter Montopoli said.
He was speaking specifically about audience numbers, but it could still be said of the men's set-up in general. The women's game has been ascendant in this country since the London Olympics, but the divide between the two programs has rarely seemed as stark as it does right now.
The women faced Costa Rica on Sunday in what was a ritual humiliation rather than a contest. It was 3-0 Canada after 13 minutes. All three goals were slid around, behind or through Costa Rican defenders who were working on a tactical system that might best be described as 'Pillars of Salt.'
After the third Canada goal, Costa Rican goalkeeper Noelia Bermudez nearly burst into tears of frustration. After the fourth, she stopped speaking to her teammates.
That was just past the 20-minute mark. Canada took its foot off the gas and did not reapply pressure until the replacements began funnelling onto the field. It ended 6-0, and could easily have been 16-0.
The most notable of the subs was 16-year-old newbie striker Jordyn Huitema. Most forwards in the women's game have one of three attributes – size, speed or skill. Christine Sinclair has two. Huitema has the full package.
She scored an ugly one from a goalmouth scrum in the 73rd minute. Then she chipped a fantastically difficult one in from distance a minute later.
"I guess I was trying to make up for the first one," Huitema shrugged.
What's next for her?
"What's next is school," Huitema said. "Finishing my Grade 10 year."
Canada's women's team moves from one preposterously rich vein of talent to another. The finest players on this team are all 22 or under, and there are a bunch of them. The best of them all, Jessie Fleming, is only 19 and studies engineering full-time. Just how good Fleming could be when she starts treating soccer as a job rather than a hobby boggles the mind.
Based on present progress, it is not a question of if Canada's women's soccer team will be the No. 1-ranked squad in the world, but when. It will be among the firm favourites for the 2019 World Cup and Tokyo 2020. With the NHL removed from the Olympic picture, there is no more exciting Canadian national team at work.
Then (sad trombone sound) we move to the men.
They'll play Curacao on Tuesday. The tiny island country has the same population as Sudbury, yet stands 39 spots higher than Canada, which is No. 109, in the world rankings. It's more than disappointing. It's very close to inexplicable.
This may be why the decision of Alphonso Davies, a Ghanaian-born, 16-year-old prodigy, to assume Canadian citizenship last week was greeted in CSA circles as the miracle of loaves and fishes. New CSA president Steve Reed even showed up at the oath-taking ceremony.
"We wanted to put the jersey on his back as soon as possible," Reed said.
Reed wasn't being metaphorical. He actually brought a jersey. Davies was then rushed into the senior squad for Tuesday's game. The goal here isn't so much to see what Davies can do, but to ensure he can't change his mind and flee. Once he plays for Canada, he's stuck.
A young player such as Huitema will be protected from stress by all the stars around her. A young player such as Davies may very well be consumed by it for the opposite reason.
On Sunday, CSA executives were already speaking of Davies as the "cornerstone" of Canada's 2026 men's World Cup team. Davies has never scored a goal at the senior professional level. But, you know, no pressure.
That would be the World Cup that Canada can only reasonably make if we are given a bye as one of the host countries (along with the United States and Mexico). Though nothing will be confirmed until a FIFA congress one year from now, the CSA is talking as though that joint bid is a shoo-in.
"We're hopeful that we're only bidding against the [FIFA infrastructure] standards, rather than bidding against another country," Reed said. "We're very comfortable in each of the countries that we can meet those standards."
(Interestingly, Reed believes that the 10 Canadian-based games would be staged in only two cities. That means that out of a pool of Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal, a few burgs are going to be very disappointed.)
So if all goes to plan, the Canadian men will be playing in a World Cup. It won't be for a decade and there is no reason yet to believe they will not be wiped out in it, but a World Cup nonetheless.
Meanwhile, the Canadian women have a very good shot at being either world or Olympic champions by that point. They might have a couple of titles. They are so young and with so many overlapping layers of talent, they might be a U.S.-style dynasty.
Nothing much happens in women's international soccer over the next year, so there won't be a lot of talk about the women's team. All of the headlines will go to the 2026 World Cup bid.
But the real story was on display in Toronto on Sunday. Canadian soccer is in a great place, the best spot it has ever been.
Oh, and men occasionally play the game, as well.