Seven years ago, Samuel Piette played in his first game for the Canadian men’s national team against the United States men’s national team. The Montreal Impact midfielder came on for former Toronto FC midfielder Julian De Guzman, who Piette says is a role model for him to this day.
“That was something really special to be on that pitch with big players from Canada and even the U.S.,” Piette said during a phone call Thursday. “To have [Michael] Bradley and all these big guys in front of me, I felt like I was in a commercial and it wasn’t real.”
Piette and Canada will take on the U.S. in Concacaf Nations League play Oct. 15 at BMO Field in Toronto. The 24-year-old feels the time is now for the Canadians to impose themselves against the Americans on home soil.
“This is one of the most important games that matter for a very long time,” Piette said. “I think that we have a chance to place Canada on the Concacaf map and to show that we are a serious team.
“There isn’t just the U.S. and Mexico.”
Gold Cup nightmare
Piette said a good performance against the American rivals will also help Canada forget its 2019 Gold Cup run. The Canadians had the ambitious goal of winning the Gold Cup, but were eliminated by Haiti in the quarterfinal round. However, Piette believes Canada’s first two results in Nations League play — wins of 6-0 and 1-0 against Cuba — put the team back on its feet.
“We knew we had the ability to go all the way through and win that thing,” Piette said. “I think that right now against the U.S., this is the game that everybody is looking forward to. This is where we can prove to everybody that what happened in the Gold Cup was just a mistake.”
For Piette, a positive result against the USMNT next Tuesday would go a long way in ending the 2019 season on a positive note. Furthermore, it would set the tone for the next meeting between both clubs, a Nov. 15 Nations League game at Exploria Stadium in Orlando.
“I think that right now, we just got to finish the job, finish what we’ve done the entire year and make sure we put on a good performance,” Piette said. “Most importantly, get a result against the Americans because we want to impose ourselves as Canadians in Canada, but also across Concacaf.”
Pivotal, but not yet crucial
On a cultural level, the Canadian national team is eyeing Tuesday’s game as an opportunity to notch a historic victory. If Canada comes out on top, it would be its first win over the U.S. since May 6, 1990.
But Canada isn’t exactly in a do-or-die position with a 2-0-0 record so far in Nations League play. Still, a victory would go a long way.
“It is a pivotal game,” Piette said. “I wouldn’t say that it’s a must-win game, but obviously if we do win we put ourselves in a great position for the rest. But we know that we play them again at their home in November, so we have a chance to push ourselves ahead if we have a good result.
“It’s not the big game that will decide if Canada qualifies for the World Cup, but it’s a really important game.”