Colorado Rapids 27-year-old attacking midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye was not even born the last time the Canadians played in the World Cup Soccer Tournament.
In 1985, Team Canada defeated Honduras on their home soil in Newfoundland and earned an all-inclusive invitation to play in the 1986 World Cup football tournament that was then hosted by Mexico.
Fast forward 37 years, today’s scorching hot Les Rouges team is just a matter of three games away from returning to the sport’s most prestigious competition.
Sitting very comfortable in first-place with 25 points in the 2021-22 Concacaf Octagonal World Cup qualifying tournament, Canada is practically a shoo-in to advance to play in Qatar this coming fall. One convincing win will put the team over the top and on their way.
Win and we’re in. A draw or loss could also see Canada qualify for the FIFA World Cup on Thursday, but ultimately we are in control of our own destiny and the goal is clear. #CANMNT #ForCanada #WCQ pic.twitter.com/AHuK1ko1OS— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) March 22, 2022
For the Toronto native Kaye, it is a dream come true to be on the team’s roster. He has evolved to an often ‘go-to’ player that head coach John Herdman employs either as a starter or a substitute. For the crafty Kaye, the Rapids’ newest all-around good guy, who has a knack for seeing the playing field well, attacking the goal with both his feet and head on his tall frame, and making precise through passes, he is poised to contribute in whatever capacity his manager, John Herdman requests of him.
Ahead of learning that he was called up to Canada’s final qualifying camp, Kaye spoke with the Burgundy Wave after a Rapids practice session at Dick’s Sporting Good Park last week.
Kaye expects his team to clinch first-place and continue to “keep the way we have been going.” as they have with unprecedented success to date.
“We want to go into every game with the mentality that we want to win three points. We set a clear goal before we started this campaign and we want to finish that,” he said. “We are so close. We have three games left. They are really important, and we want to win them all.”
The unpretentious Canadian said that the team has so many talented-filled players who can play the midfield. He leaves it up to Herdman to make the final call who is in the starting XI or who comes off of the bench against his hungry opponents.
“It just depends on any given day and the tactics that he thinks will help win the game. It is always for the team,” Kayne stated. Whether I start or come off the bench or do not play, my role is to be there and be the best version of myself and make sure whoever is on the field had a good training session before the game so they can do their job. It is an all for the team mentality. Whatever his plans are for me, I will accept them and then do my best.
The Reds will play two games away and one at home. Kaye and his teammates will open verse a must-win Costa Rica side tonight in Estadio Nacional in San Jose. The Ticos have climbed up the table quickly by netting 10 crucial points in their last four games.
Team Canada will then fly 2030 nautical miles north to Toronto and host Jamaica at MLS BMO Field on Sunday, and close out their qualifying play on the 30th in Panama City.
During his impromptu conversation, Kaye commented on how the Canadian fans have helped underwrite the team’s recent successes. “It has been great. There has always been support for the national team throughout the country. I think now we are seeing it even more because we are doing very well,” he said with a warm smile. ”But we know whenever we play at home, our fans come out in full force to support us. They come when it is cold or when it is hot. And do they make noise.”
He continued, “They make us feel like we are supported, and that we have by the backing of our country. And that is amazing.”
Thursday’s game will be televised from Costa Rica at 8:05 pm MT on Paramount+, Sportsnet, and OneSoccer.
Team Canada’s Schedule
Thursday, March 24, 2022
Jamaica vs El Salvador – National Stadium, Kingston, Jamaica
Panama vs Honduras – Estadio Rommel Fernandez, Panama City, Panama
Mexico vs United States – Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
Costa Rica vs Canada – Estadio Nacional, San Jose, Costa Rica
Sunday, March 27, 2022
Canada vs Jamaica – BMO Field, Toronto, ON, Canada
El Salvador vs Costa Rica – Estadio Cuscatlan, San Salvador, El Salvador
United States vs Panama – Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL, USA
Honduras vs Mexico – Estadio Olimpico, San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Mexico vs El Salvador – Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
Costa Rica vs United States – Estadio Nacional, San Jose, Costa Rica
Panama vs Canada – Estadio Rommel Fernandez, Panama City, Panama
Jamaica vs Honduras – National Stadium, Kingston, Jamaica