After a qualifying campaign that felt like Canada was on top of the world, the men’s national soccer squad came back down to Earth hard and fast at the World Cup.
Both athletes and analysts agree the national team can’t — and won’t — take a step back.
“There’s a lot of emotions around it,” Cavalry FC goalkeeper Marco Carducci said. “I think everyone feels a bit disappointed that the team wasn’t able to get a result. But at the end of the day, I think it’s important to remember this wasn’t a World Cup we expected to be at.
“It’s kind of the icing on the cake that the team had such a successful qualifying campaign and ended up being in Qatar.”
As Canada looks onward to getting its first point, first win and potentially moving on to the tournament’s knockout stage in 2026, Carducci has set his sights on making the national team’s roster.
“Watching the team at this World Cup made that goal feel even more front of mind,” the Calgarian said. “Four years is a long time, but it’s also not, right? I think it’ll sneak up on us.
“Before you know it, we’re going to be hosting a World Cup here, and my goal as a player and as a professional is to be there.”
The 26-year-old’s resume certainly shows he’s worth a look.
The founding Cavalry FC goalkeeper has won two Golden Glove awards in four Canadian Premier League campaigns.
At the international level, Carducci has suited up for Canada at the Under-23, Under-20 and Under-17 levels.
His impressive showing with the Cavalry in 2019 earned him a call from national men’s coach John Herdman to train with Team Canada and serve as a substitute in five international friendlies.
He trained alongside the currently injured Maxime Crepeau and fellow Albertans Alphonso Davies and Sam Adekugbe.
“I learned so much just being in that environment,” Carducci recalled. “The level is so high, it was really cool to see the culture, the team spirit and everything that was built there.
“The expectations maybe weren’t that we were gonna make it to this World Cup — we weren’t so focused on that — but there was a collectiveness of brotherhood that was so, so special. I think that starts from the top with John Herdman and his staff.”
Seeing former Cavalry FC teammate Joel Waterman rise through the ranks from the CPL to Qatar also adds to Carducci’s confidence.
With no firm pathway or checklist to follow, he’s putting his head down and getting to work — after all, someone is always watching.
“My focus as a player would be to continually improve and get better and perform well for your club,” Carducci said. “With the national team, they cast a wide net and they’re always watching.
“There’s a big pool of players that they do communicate with and keep their eyes on — that’s how I got called up in the first place.”
Canada, Mexico and the United States are jointly hosting the 2026 World Cup.