With Toronto and BMO Field set to host the first Gold Cup games in Canada next year, it’s worth taking a look back at one of the seminal moments in this country’s soccer history.
The 2000 Gold Cup served as a defining moment for a generation of Canadian soccer fans too young to remember Canada’s qualification for the 1986 World Cup.
That tournament in 2000, held in the United States, made heroes out of players like Craig Forrest, Jason de Vos and Carlo Corazzin.
A number of factors led to Canada’s triumph after two draws in the group stage left every team in Group D - Costa Rica, South Korea and Canada - on two points.
Canada won a coin toss at the expense of South Korea, leading to a quarterfinal date with Mexico, the tournament’s defending champions.
That game would be settled in extra time, where Richard Hastings played hero, scoring the golden goal in the 92nd minute.
Mark Watson, now an assistant coach with Orlando City SC, scored the lone goal in the semifinal against Trinidad and Tobago, setting up a clash with Colombia in the final.
de Vos scored just before halftime, giving Canada the lead heading into the break. Corazzin added vital insurance from the penalty spot in the 68th minute. From there, Forrest stole the show, as he had done all tournament.
Holger Osieck’s side managed to do what many pundits believed was impossible. Considering Canada’s spot in the knockout round was booked by a coin flip, those prognosticators weren’t exactly wrong.
Earlier this year the 2000 Gold Cup team was inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall Of Fame.
“It was a group of players who came together and had a tremendous work rate, a tremendous bond as a group that translated into success on the field,” deVos told MLSsoccer.com’s Daniel Squizzato.
“I remember going into the tournament and not being given a hope of advancing out of our group, let alone winning the tournament. … We certainly used that as motivation.”
The 2015 squad will look do what their forebearers accomplished some 15 years ago.
Bring that lucky coin just in case.