The party at Commonwealth screams that Edmonton has its groove back
By Steven Sandor | November 13, 2021
For Edmonton, it was more than a soccer game, The eyes of a nation were focused on this city Friday night, when the Canadian men’s national soccer team faced Costs Rica in a World Cup qualifier in front of 48,806 fans. Commonwealth Stadium was abuzz with chanting, songs and smoke, in an atmosphere that Canadian national-team coach John Herdman called “absolutely electric.”
Canada won the game 1-0 on a goal from Ottawa’s Jonathan David, and it was a Calgarian, Sam Adekugbe, who Herdman felt was the man of the match. Alphonso Davies, the global soccer icon who once played minor soccer on Edmonton’s balding grass fields, was not made available to the media after the game. But, at moments, it looked like he was trying to do too much out there, to take on three players at a time, in an attempt to wow his family, his friends, the people who watched him grow up.
The Voyageurs, the official supporters’ group of the Canadian national teams — men, women and youth teams — were in full voice, waving flags throughout the match and leading the crowd through their soccer songbook. These fans came from across the country — from Vancouver, from Regina, from Toronto, from Halifax. For the Voyageurs, a game in Edmonton is a true homecoming, as the organization was born in Edmonton during the mid-1990s.
And that’s what made last night so special. It was a truly national event. After nearly two years of COVID-19 fears, this was a giant scream that Edmonton has rolled out the welcome mat. The crowd of 48,806 was the third-largest to see a men’s soccer game on Canadian soil.
“Yeah, we had to grind that out, from an attacking perspective.” Herdman said of the game. “I never felt the result was in doubt, but we had to grind three points out there.”
And Herdman thanked Edmonton for the support. “Right from the moment we got out of the bus, they were shaking the bus.”
The festival continues through till Tuesday, when Mexico and Canada face each other in another vital World Cup qualifier.