Colorado Rapids midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye earned a spot in Team Canada’s head coach John Herdman’s starting XI Thursday night. The start was the first of possibly three in a few days as the Canadian’s kicked off the final series of the Concacaf 2022 World Cup Qualifiers.
Kaye played a gritty style until surrendering to the confines of his locker room after a controversial red card was raised in his direction. He received two quick yellow card penalties in a span of 34 minutes.
Kaye first found the high ankle of Costa Rican fullback Ronald Matarrita, and minutes later, he lost his admirable controlled demeanor, went shoulder-to-shoulder with a Tico, and then the bump turned TIMBER fall to the ground, cost him again.
Canada is down to 10 men after this……— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) March 25, 2022
Mark-Anthony Kaye picks up his second yellow
Thoughts on that red card?#CanMNT #WCQ pic.twitter.com/XDJSy935oL
Out went Kaye, and in came a tidal wave of slanderous and abusive remarks on social media. So hideous were the statements that the National Team’s governing body responded with its own response yesterday.
“Canada Soccer strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and is appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at a member of our squad on social media. Such vile and disgusting behaviour is unacceptable. Full stop. We will do all we can to support our players — who have given everything to represent our country honourably — while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible,” the Team posted on its bilingual Twitter account.
Canada Soccer strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and is appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at a member of our squad on social media.#NoToRacism pic.twitter.com/igafqXjoN7— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) March 25, 2022
The game was billed as a must-win match for Costa Rica was sitting on the bubble of winning the 4th and last spot in the Concacaf World Cup Qualifying tournament.
The high-pitched intensive screamed from all sides of the stadium. The match opened with high pressure on both ends of the pitch. Evident to television viewers was the taunting of Les Rouges players by the Ticos, which was followed by entertaining flops after the most minimal contact. Even the field judges played into the onfield act and boisterous fans in Estadio Nacional in San Jose Stadium. It was the very first time the venue was at the capacity since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Highlights: #CANMNT 0:1 CRC #ForCanada #WCQ pic.twitter.com/c6zSv1E78d— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) March 25, 2022
In the end, Costa Rica defeated the 10-man Canadians, 1-0. They earned three valuable points, and edged up the standings into the cherished fourth slot.
The situation with two matches to go.#OnlyForward #SoloPalante pic.twitter.com/DfgBhtBSuF— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) March 25, 2022
But the positive outcome for the Costa Ricans turned ugly after the final whistle blew. Tico fans were relentless in attacking Kaye, a Toronto, Ontario native, a genuine big-hearted good-guy and fine ambassador of MLS. For that matter, it has not stopped.
His loyalists, both in Canada and in the United States have responded to the mountain of across-the-borders hate.
This is an @MarkThEwizz appreciation post. He plays at 100% for the country and belts the anthem like no other. Send your love and support by Retweeting this. We will not let hate win. #CANMNT @CanadaSoccerEN pic.twitter.com/alz5aWDs53— TFC BIPOC Fan Coalition (@tfcbipocfans) March 25, 2022
Kaye wore his emotions on his sleeves during the game’s halftime intermission. Herdman, one of Kaye’s biggest fans, told the media, ”I just had a moment with him and said- ‘Look, it is football, we learn. Pressure does things to people. It’s normal. We love you. You’re our brother. And we move forward. We’ll fight again together.’ That was it.”
The gaffer added, “I mean, the lad’s devastated. Absolutely devastated. He knows what that meant tonight.”
Team Canada has returned to Toronto and will host Jamaica at MLS BMO Field tomorrow They will wrap up the Qualifiers, with or without Kaye, on the 30th in Panama City.
Should they win just one of the remaining two matches, The Reds will punch their ticket to the World Cup tourney in Qatar, a first in 37 years.