Canada will play 20th-ranked Japan in Niigata in an international friendly during the October FIFA international window.
But the 43rd-ranked Canadian men will be idle during the September window.
Organizing friendlies is a delicate balance of finding a suitable partner on and off the field. And the process is more complicated than simply figuring out when and where.
The big questions are who and how much.
Citing sources, the New York Times reported in May that Argentina was in such demand that the going rate for a single game with the World Cup champion came with a $5-million US starting point.
“The challenges that we have with respect to financial constraints are, I think, well documented,” Jason deVos, Canada Soccer’s interim general secretary, said in an interview. “We are not sitting in a situation where we’re able to spend significant amounts of money to ensure opponents.
“The reality in the international sphere now is you want play against the top teams, you have to secure their appearances and that typically comes with an appearance fee or covering some of the costs or all of the costs of their travel, their accommodations and what have you.
“We explored every opportunity for September that we possibly could.”
DeVos, a Canada Soccer Hall of Famer and former Canada captain, stated Canada Soccer had a “very good opportunity” in early May to book a friendly in Europe in September.
“Unfortunately we just weren’t in a position to secure that at that moment in time,” said deVos, who was named interim general secretary on April 25. “I still needed to get my feet under the desk and get a better sense of what our financial reality.”
“Unfortunately when we went back a few weeks later to confirm that opportunity it was no longer there for us,” he added.
Canada a more attractive adversary
DeVos said Canada Soccer looked at other September options but “we just weren’t able to get the right balance of the competitive needs that the team has with our financial reality.”
Other top CONCACAF teams are taking advantage of the September window. The 11th-ranked Americans are hosting No. 73 Oman and No. 74 Uzbekistan while No. 12 Mexico takes on No. 27 Australia and Uzbekistan, with both games also in the U.S.
The good news is that, under John Herdman, Canada has become a more attractive adversary.
“We are delighted to host Canada, one of the best teams in CONCACAF, who are well organized with highly talented players.” Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu said in a statement. “Canada will be one of the host nations for the next FIFA World Cup, so this will be a good opportunity to get a glimpse of what is to come in 2026.”
The Canadians’ style of play combined with their World Cup qualifying run in CONCACAF and subsequent showing in Qatar have added to their appeal.
“It’s a credit to the players that they’ve made that statement to the world,” said deVos.
Being co-host of the 2026 World Cup doesn’t hurt either. But Canada Soccer’s tumultuous year, given its ongoing labor dispute with its national teams, has not helped future planning.
Canada’s last outing was July 6, a penalty shootout loss to the U.S. in the Gold Cup quarterfinal in Cincinnati.