Davies leads Canada past Curacao in team's 1st match after strike

Matthew Ashton - AMA / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Canada's men's soccer team defeated Curacao 4-0 in CONCACAF Nations League action Thursday in the team's first match after a player strike forced the cancellation of Sunday's friendly against Panama.

In a homecoming of sorts, Alphonso Davies scored on either side of the interval at BC Place, converting a penalty that he earned in the first half before finishing off a lovely team move in the 71st minute.

Davies now has 12 goals for the national team.

The former Vancouver Whitecaps standout, back in a familiar setting, featured in his first match for John Herdman's team since November. The Bayern Munich star missed Canada's previous six games - all World Cup qualifiers - after developing myocarditis following a bout with COVID-19.

It was a poetic evening for the 21-year-old, who also earned his first Canada cap against Curacao in 2017.

Defender Steven Vitoria's close-range header just before halftime sandwiched Davies' brace. Substitute Lucas Cavallini added a late tally to round out the scoring.

Thursday's contest went ahead despite the ongoing contract dispute between the players and Canada Soccer. Prior to sitting out Sunday's World Cup tuneup game, the players criticized the federation in an open letter, voicing their concerns over the distribution of World Cup prize money and Canada Soccer's broadcast and commercial rights deal, among other things.

"It was a tough decision for us on the team," veteran captain Atiba Hutchinson said Wednesday of the strike. "It took a lot for us, but in our eyes, we felt like we needed to make a stance. And we felt that we truly believe that was the right thing for us to do as a group."

The two sides are in continued discussions over a new agreement.

No deadline has been set, but Earl Cochrane, Canada Soccer's acting general secretary, branded the negotiations as "positive - perhaps even more than positive."

"I think how the conversations go will determine how long it takes," he said Wednesday. "But I don't envision it's going to take too long. I don't think we're going to be bouncing up against the World Cup."

Thursday's victory was Canada's first game since the team concluded its memorable World Cup qualifying campaign in March. The Canadians, ranked 38th in the world, will wrap up this international window with a Nations League tussle in Honduras on Monday.

Herdman's team will have one more international break in September to prepare for this year's World Cup in Qatar. It's expected that two friendly matches will be scheduled during that window.

Canada, which will be making its first appearance in the men's World Cup since 1986, was drawn alongside Belgium, Croatia, and Morocco in Group F. The Canadians will open play against the Red Devils on Nov. 23.

Davies leads Canada past Curacao in team's 1st match after strike
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