Sunday’s Canada/USA game is not only essential to the men’s World Cup qualifier, it brings regional pool teams from eight countries to Tim Hortons Field playing the most exciting and exciting styles of soccer. entertaining.

And two of Canada’s most dynamic players have strong ties to Hamilton soccer, through Forge FC head coach and general manager Bobby and Costa Smyrniotis.

Striker Cyle Larin and midfielder/full-back Richie Laryea both got their football start as children at the Sigma FC Academy, owned by the Smyrniotis brothers, and played most of their class football there. of age. And both played for Sigma in semi-pro Ligue 1 before going on to full pro careers

“Richie was 10 and Cyle was 11 when they came to our house and they both went through the whole system, all the way to going to college and getting drafted (both by Orlando City of MLS),” explains Bobby Smyrniotis. “We have a very good relationship with both of them and have spoken a lot together throughout their professional journey.”

With both goals in November’s pivotal 2-1 win over Mexico, Larin tied Dwayne De Rosario for the men’s national team all-time lead with 22 goals.

“I always thought Cyle would score everywhere,” Smyrniotis says. “He will put the ball in the back of the net. He’s had it since he was young: knowing where to go on the pitch and having a high conversion rate. He’s not looking for the perfect shot, the perfect scenario, he knows when he’s hitting the goal.

Smyrniotis says Laryea, who will be important in the absence of the world’s Alphonso Davies, “was absolutely brilliant from the first time I met him. At the age of 11 he was part of the first Sigma team reunited to go to Spain. As a teenager, he was smaller than everyone else but his technical ability was above everyone else. I always believed he would be a fantastic pro.

Emerging national team winger Tajon Buchanan also played in Ligue 1 for Smyrniotis in 2018.

The law of limited demand and supply

What is the value of a ticket for Sunday’s match here, especially after the stadium’s capacity was cut in half to 12,000 spectators? It depends on whether it hits the asking price. As of early Thursday afternoon, the cheapest ticket available on resale site stubhub.ca was $121 and the most expensive, for the best club seat on the west side, was offered at $1,678. That’s almost 10 times the face price of $175 (plus tax). When tickets originally went on sale in December, the price range was $35 to $175, according to the Canada Soccer website.

Veteran and congratulations to Herdman

Milan Borjan, who was Canada’s number one goaltender for a decade and returns to Hamilton on Sunday, says head coach John Herdman “has something special about him. From the first day he arrived here (in the men’s team in 2018), he made me believe in the whole program. I was so excited and told him I was supporting him all the way. John has changed a lot, brought in young players. He likes everything to be neat and he brought us a different style.

“When the coach believes in it, the players start to believe in it too. Maybe we didn’t have that before; someone who gave us so much confidence and belief. With him it’s just a another level. Canada, every year, is getting better.

National team merchandise, locally

Even those who don’t have tickets to Sunday’s Canada/USA game can support the national soccer program.

The Ticats/Forge FC store offers Team Canada jerseys, t-shirts, jerseys, pins, scarves and hats. The store is located on the southeast corner of Tim Hortons Field and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and this Sunday from 11 a.m. Kiosks inside the stadium will also sell merchandise on game day.

Where to watch on screen

All of Canada’s remaining World Cup qualifiers will be shown on Sportsnet and streamed on OneSoccer. Thursday’s game against Honduras at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula begins at 8:05 p.m.; Sunday’s game against the United States at Tim Hortons Field is at 3:05 p.m.; and that three-game qualifying window ends next Wednesday, February 2 at 9 p.m. with Canada taking on El Salvador at Estadio Cascatlán in San Salvador.