The Canadian men’s soccer team is halfway to the Octagon.
The Reds beat Haiti 1-0 away in the first leg of their 2022 World Cup qualifying matchup on Saturday, with Cyle Larin scoring a 14th-minute goal to provide the difference on the day at Stade Sylvio Cator in Port-au-Prince.
The two teams play again Tuesday in Chicago, with a spot in the Octagon — the eight-team group play that will send the top three teams to the World Cup — on the line.
Larin turned in a perfectly weighted cross from Jonathan Osario on the right-hand side 14 minutes in to give Canada the lead, then nearly extended it on a partial breakaway a few minutes later, but Haiti keeper Johny Placide stoned him.
Jonathan David had a full breakaway late in the second half, but Placide again stood tall to keep the score 1-0.
Canadian soccer fans started having PTSD as Haiti began to press, thinking back to the 2019 Gold Cup quarterfinal where Canada coughed up a two-goal halftime lead to Haiti and lost 3-2.
Canada hasn’t been to the Octagon since 1997, coming close twice — in 2016, when their 1-0 lead against Honduras turned into a 2-1 loss, and the infamous 8-1 loss to the same team four years before, when a draw would have been enough to advance.
It was nervy right to the end of Saturday’s game, with Haiti getting a free kick opportunity at the very end of stoppage time, but Canadian keeper Milan Borjan swallowed up the cross to end the threat and the game.