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Jul 4, 2024 6:16 pm

Canada out to continue surprising Copa run against Venezuela

Salomon Rondon

History is at stake for both sides when Venezuela and Canada meet Friday night in Arlington, Texas, in the second Copa America quarterfinal.

Long considered a minnow in South American football, Venezuela would guarantee tying its best Copa America showing by advancing past Canada, ensuring at least a match of its 2011 fourth-place finish.

“We know that we have to motivate ourselves a little bit more than maybe how we motivated ourselves for the group phase because we are very close to surpassing the best performance historically of Venezuela in Copa America,” Venezuela manager Fernando Batista said, through an interpreter. “We know it’s important.”

Venezuela won all three of its Group B matches but perhaps rode its luck a bit in the process, aided by Enner Valencia’s early red card in a 2-1 win over Ecuador and Orbelin Pineda’s penalty miss in a 1-0 win over Mexico.

That said, its ability to advance is in line with promising early results from CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying, where it currently sits in fourth place through six matches.

Salomon Rondon, the nation’s all-time scoring leader, has added his 42nd and 43rd goals of the tournament, and Eduard Bello has also scored twice.

In its first Copa America appearance, Canada also received some breaks in its path to the quarterfinals, defeating Peru 1-0 and drawing Chile 0-0 in matches in which both opponents suffered red cards.

Canada’s one goal scored via Jonathan David is the fewest among teams that advanced. And it will be without winger Tajon Buchanan, who suffered a broken tibia in training following the Chile draw that clinched the second-place finish in Group A.

But manager Jesse Marsch, who was only hired in May, thinks it makes sense that there are some rough spots to clean up.

“There’s so much room for improvement,” Marsch said after the Chile draw. “But I have to say the overall mentality and commitment to try to be the team that we want to become has been at the highest level I’ve seen of any team I’ve worked with. And that part I’ve really enjoyed. I’m proud of them, but more so, I’m happy for them.”

–Field Level Media

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