As they advanced to the Copa America 2024 semifinals on Saturday, the Canadians wrote their own chapter in soccer history.

They played Venezuela in the quarterfinals, and the match proceeded to penalties due to a 1-1 stalemate. It took a tiebreaker, but the North Americans prevailed 4-3.

The Reds’ journey to the Copa America semis has been nothing short of remarkable. Invited alongside five other CONCACAF nations to expand the tournament, Canada managed to advance from a group featuring previous Copa America finalists. This was a significant achievement; especially considering Canada’s poor showing at the World Cup 18 months ago, where they ranked 31st out of 32 teams.

Appointed less than two months ago, the 50-year-old has revitalized Canada’s approach on the field.

Under his predecessor, John Herdman, the team prioritized loyalty and experience, often at the expense of results. Marsch, however, has brought a fresh perspective, trusting young and relatively untested players to deliver. This shift has paid off, with players like Derek Cornelius and Moise Bombito stepping up in critical defensive roles.

Jessie Marsch, a former USMNT midfielder and experienced coach in Germany and Austria, faced a fresh challenge in leading Canada. His initial language mishap symbolized the broader adjustments and cultural integrations he would need to navigate. Yet, despite these early hurdles, Marsch has successfully instilled a sense of internal belief, within the team; allowing them to tackle challenges with newfound confidence and resilience.

How Marsch helped Canada overcome difficulties

Marsch’s tactical acumen has been evident in his ability to maximize the team’s strengths, particularly their pace. Contrary to expectations, he has not relied solely on high pressing but has instead focused on selective pressing and physical battles. This approach has allowed players like Jonathan David, Cyle Larin, and Maxime Crepeau to shine, contributing significantly to Canada’s success in the tournament.

Despite some setbacks, such as Tajon Buchanan’s injury, the team has rallied together, demonstrating a strong sense of unity and resilience. Marsch’s emphasis on preparation and adaptability has been crucial. His training sessions are designed to mimic game situations, ensuring that the team is well-prepared for any tactical adjustments their opponents might make.

What did Marsch say about facing Argentina again?

As Canada prepares to face Argentina, Marsch’s leadership and the team’s internal belief will be crucial. The absence of external pressure has allowed the players to focus on their performance and development, creating a positive and supportive environment.

New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium will play host to Tuesday’s semi-final match between the debutants and La Albiceleste. Prior to their clash against the world champions, the former head coach of Leeds said that his squad must showcase their greatest performance to advance to the final of the tournament.

“Argentina will have to be the best match we’ve ever played and it still might not be enough”, the 50-year-old told reporters after the game, according to Oliver Platt of OneSoccer. “But, whatever. We’re going to go for it.”

Canada face a difficult game against Argentina
Canada face a difficult game against Argentina

Canada face a difficult game against Argentina

The Reds endured a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the world champions in their first encounter of the competition. In the semifinal, they will surely be looking to get revenge for that loss and keep their historic streak going. In fact, the two will meet again only weeks after Marsch demanded a sanction for Argentina.

After last month’s first Group A encounter, the manager unleashed a raging tirade against the 2022 World Cup winners. The Canadians were doomed to a 2-0 defeat following halftime goals from Julian Alvarez and Lautaro Martinez. Nonetheless, Marsch took issue with La Albiceleste’s tardy start to the second half of their match.

Photo credit: IMAGO / NurPhoto