Substitute Lucas Cavallini scored a second-half hat trick as a young Canada side ran up a record goal total Monday, crushing the Cayman Islands 11-0 in World Cup qualifying play.
The Canadian men’s previous scoring record was 8-0 over the U.S. Virgin Islands in September, 2018, in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying play. The previous high in World Cup qualifying was a 7-0 victory in St. Lucia in October, 2011.
Alphonso Davies and Mark-Anthony Kaye each scored twice while Frank Sturing, Cyle Larin, David Wotherspoon and Alistair Johnston added singles for Canada, which led 4-0 after 27 minutes and 6-0 at the half.
Sturing’s goal came five minutes into his Canadian debut. Wotherspoon, Kaye and Johnston also opened their Canadian scoring accounts.
Cavallini, who could have had a hat trick last time out against Bermuda but had no luck in front of goal, upped his Canadian total to 14 with goals in the 68th, 74th and 76th minutes.
Canada is ranked 73rd in the world, 120 places above the Caymans part-timers. And the first-ever meeting between the two at the senior level quickly turned into a rout. For long stretches, it looked as if a training game contested in the Caymans’ end.
The Canadians showed no mercy at the IMG Academy, knowing that No. 141 Suriname had won its two first qualifying games with a plus-nine goal differential in CONCACAF’s Group B.
Canada (2-0-0) upped its goal difference to plus-15.
Canada opened its qualifying campaign with a 5-1 win over No. 169 Bermuda in Orlando last Thursday. The Caymans lost 3-0 Wednesday at Suriname, which improved to 2-0-0 with a 6-0 thumping of No. 200 Aruba on Saturday in Bradenton.
Next up for Canada is a June 5 match at Aruba and a June 8 home game against Suriname. Whether the team can play at home in June depends on whether the pandemic-related border restrictions are eased.
Thirty CONCACAF countries have been split into six groups in the first round of qualifying in the region that covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. Only the six groups winners will advance.
It was 27 degrees Celsius at kickoff Monday, feeling like 29 C.
The game was slated to be played Sunday but was pushed back a day so the Caymans delegation could undergo the PCR tests required by FIFA rather than rapid antigen tests originally taken.
Alfredo Whittaker, president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, said the testing problem occurred because of travel delays that disrupted the necessary COVID-19 protocols.
Canada coach John Herdman, rotating his squad against the CONCACAF minnow, made nine changes to the starting lineup that dispatched Bermuda.
Only Larin and Davies retained their starting spots. Midfielder Samuel Piette wore the captain’s armband for the first time, taking over for Atiba Hutchinson, who has returned to Turkey to rejoin club team Besiktas.
Maxime Crepeau started in goal, with Milan Borjan returning to Red Star Belgrade. He could have taken a cup of coffee and newspaper out on the field because he had nothing to do.
Canada’s starting 11 had a combined cap count of just 144, with 118 of those coming from Piette (51) Larin (33), Davies (19) and Kaye (15). Six of the seven other starters have single-digit caps.
Ricardo Ferreira and Sturing started at centre back, earning their first Canadian caps in the process. Winger Theo Corbeanu and Johnston made their first starts — and second appearances — for Canada.
Davies, who had started further up front against Bermuda, returned to the fullback role he fills at Bayern Munich.
Herdman said prior to the game that he expected the Caymans to park the bus, “maybe a couple of buses,” meaning it would stack its defence. But the defensive block was breached quickly with 21-year-old Caymans goaltender Albertini Holness finishing himself in a shooting gallery.
Sturing opened the scoring, knocking in a rebound through traffic in a goalmouth scramble after Larin’s shot bounced of the crossbar following a corner. Wotherspoon unselfishly set up Larin for a tap-in in the 13th minute to make it 2-0 with his 12th for Canada.
Kaye played provider for Wotherspoon in the 25th with the St. Johnstone midfielder beating a defender and then Holness. Taken down in the box, Davies converted from the penalty spot in the 27th minute.
Kaye made it 5-0 in the 32nd minute, tapping in a Wotherspoon feed from the byline as the Canadian attackers cut through the Caymans defence like a hot knife through butter. Johnston hammered a shot home in the 42nd to pad the lead to 6-0 after Corbeanu and Wotherspoon ripped open the Caymans backline.
Cameron Gray gave the Caymans something to celebrate when he nutmegged Davies early in the second half.
Canada showed its depth, bringing on Cavallini, Junior Hoilett and Sam Adekugbe on the hour-mark, with Davies pushing forward.
Still the Caymans managed to slow the Canadian attack to open the second half, holding them off the scoreboard for the first 18 minutes. Kaye made it 7-0, beating Holness after Wotherspoon hit the goalpost.
Cavallini made it 8-0 in the 63rd minute, heading home a perfect cross from Johnston.
After taking down Hoilett, Holness denied Kaye his hat trick, stopping both the LAFC midfielder’s spot kick and followup shot before Davis knocked in the rebound in the 73rd for his seventh Canadian goal. Cavallini goals in the 74th and 76th made it 11-0.
Monday’s game was officially a home game for the Caymans. But the three-island group with a population of some 63,000 has the same 14-day quarantine as Canada so opted to shift the site to Bradenton where the Canadian men had held a camp in January.
The Caymans have enjoyed some success under 31-year-old English coach Ben Pugh, a former academy coach at Ipswich Town. They won four of six League C matches in the CONCACAF Nations League in 2019, including a 3-2 victory over No. 162 Barbados.
This Caymans team was without 22-year-old winger Elijah Seymour, who plays professionally in Romania for CS Tunari. Whittaker said there were too many travel restrictions to bring him in.
“We are in a rebuilding process,” Whittaker said of his squad.
He said the Caymans roster included some “key players” from the national under-17, under-20 and under-23 and “a handful of players that we called experienced players that are 24, 25, 26.”