RECAP: Canada embarrassed by U.S. in Concacaf Nations League – Canadian Premier League

RECAP: Canada embarrassed by U.S. in Concacaf Nations League - Canadian Premier League
Gyasi Zardes pair of goals leads U.S. to rout Canada in Concacaf match
Canadas loss to the United States on Friday wasnt a case of chickens coming home to roost, but rather an entire hen house.

A month ago, Canada humbled the U.S. in Concacaf Nations League play, earning a historic 2-0 win in Toronto, its first victory over the Americans in 34 years.

Recap: USMNT comfortably beats Canada Soccer in Concacaf Nations League Group A action

Its pride stung from that defeat, the U.S. turned the tables and exacted revenge in Orlando in the cruellest of fashions via a convincing 4-1 victory

Believe it or not, this wasnt as close as the final score indicates, with the Americans completely outplaying a Canadian side that trailed 3-0 after 34 minutes, and was let down by underwhelming individual performances from key players and some very slopping defending. Had the U.S. not took their foot off the gas in the second half, the damage could have been far worse for Canada.

Jordan Morris got the Americans on the board early, giving them the lead in just the second minute. From a corner, Sergiño Dest flicked the ball over the Canadian backline, right to Morris, who fired a volley past Milan Borjan to open the scoring.

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A draw on Friday would have meant a first-place finish for the Canadians in Group A, as well as securing them a birth at next summers Concacaf Nations League final. Instead, their fate is now out of their hands.

With nine points, Canada still tops Group A, ahead of the U.S. (six points) and pointless Cuba. But the Americans have a game in hand, and play away to Cuba in their group-stage finale. The U.S. has a superior goal difference, the first tiebreaker, so if the Americans beat hapless Cuba (and they will, so don’t hold out hope for a miracle) theyll win the group and advance at the expense of Canada.

Canada pulled one back after the break, as Steven Vitoria headed home from close range. After a flick at the near post, the 32-year-old centre-back was in the right place at the right time and made no mistake.

The 2-0 victory at home last month spurred hope that Canada had finally turned the corner – that it could be considered among the elite nations in Concacaf and qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Serious doubts about Canadas credentials will be raised after this embarrassing performance, and this loss also harms the Reds chances of advancing to “the Hex” in World Cup qualifying for the first time since 1997.

As for Henry’s inclusion over Cornelius, it’s bizarre to split up centre-backs who earned a clean sheet against this same U.S. side in the previous match. Chemistry is vital for central defenders and the Henry-Vitoria partnership had not started a competitive game together prior to Friday’s game.

Serious questions must also be asked of Canadian coach John Herdman. His decision to play attacker Alphonso Davies at left fullback proved disastrous. The young Bayern Munich star was out of his depth in what was easily his worst showing for the national team – this after he brilliantly spearheaded the attack with forward Jonathan David in Canadas win last month.

Herdman defended the decision to play Davies at left fullback, calling it a “no-brainer,” and stating the teenager is “the best left-back in Canada, without a doubt.”

Then, the U.S. pounced in transition, catching Canada’s full-backs high up the pitch. Steven Vitoria misjudged the cross to Jordan Morris, goalkeeper Milan Borjan stormed out to stop Morris, but the deflection off Borjan carried the ball into Gyasi Zardes’ path.

“Alphonso, hes been playing fantastic at Bayern Munich at left back; hes been touted as hitting those world-class standards in recent games,” Herdman told reporters in the post-match press conference.

Crisis averted! USMNT fight off Canada while rediscovering a little bit of identity in the process

That might be true, but the teenager is also playing with teammates of a far greater calibre at club level than he is with the Canadian national team. Mistakes he makes as left fullback for Canada are ruthlessly punished, whereas at Bayern his shortcomings in the position aren’t as grievous thanks to a stronger supporting cast.

Defenders Derek Cornelius and Kamal Miller were replaced by Doneil Henry and Lucas Cavallini, respectively. However, Alphonso Davies — who started five straight games for Bayern Munich as a full-back before the international break — was moved to left-back.

Also, why did Herdman go with a centre-back pairing of Doneil Henry (coming back from suspension) and Steven Vitoria, when the Vitoria and Derek Cornelius partnership worked so well the last time out?

Canadian mens soccer team needs more country-changing moments to be taken seriously

Canada dominated possession (63.6 per cent) and out-passed the U.S. by a wide margin (520-301). So, how did Canada lose 4-1?

A furious first-half flurry by the host Americans spelled doom for the Canadians, and Jordan Morris put the USMNT up 1-0 within the opening two minutes. Canada seemed shell-shocked from the opening strike, and the swagger from last months improbable win in Toronto evaporated as Gyasi Zardes and Aaron Long gave the U.S. a three-goal lead just over a half-hour in.

“In my mind, when I look at the performance, the difference is they were bloody clinical tonight,” the Canadian coach said of the U.S.

Herdman made two lineup changes from last month, drafting in Henry and forward Lucas Cavallini for Cornelius and Kamal Miller. Herdmans counterpart Gregg Berhalter made seven changes, including three in defence. He also had to do without the services of goalkeeper Zack Steffen, midfielder Michael Bradley and attacker Christian Pulisic, who were all unavailable due to injuries.

23 ⚽️ GOAL – Its another for the USA after Vitoria completely misjudges a floated ball into the Canadian box. The defender misses the header attempt, allowing Morris to collect down the left. He whips in a cross for Zardes, who nods home from in close. USA 2, Canada 0 . 

It was a disastrous start for Canada, who was put on the back foot after a giveaway by Davies in the middle of the park. The Canadians switched off on the ensuing corner kick, as an unmarked Jordan Morris volleyed home at the back-post off a deflected pass inside the box from teammate Sergino Dest.

Gyasi Zardes gets his brace, just to spite all the people who complain about him. Good finish, after a good effort by DeAndre Yedlin. Canadas defense fell asleep once again, as they have all night. 4-1. #USAvCAN #USMNT #CanMNT

A quick counter-attack lead to the U.S.s second goal, with Gyasi Zardes nodding home a cross from Morris. The goal highlighted a series of comedic Canadian miscues, from Davies being caught too far upfield, Steven Vitoria failing to deal with a ball played into the box, and goalkeeper Milan Borjan rushing off his line instead of holding his position.

And what about Canada? Well, Les Rouges dont have a chance of playing in Gold Cup Qualifiers, since they were the first team qualified! So, to keep control of their destiny while other nations do their thing, the only real option is to make it to the Nations League by topping their group. As I mentioned earlier, that would require a win or draw against the United States, or getting lucky. If Canada loses, then the group would be decided when the US plays Cuba in the Cayman Islands. The US would have to beat Cuba, which would be the expected outcome given the rough start to the campaign from Cuba this fall.

Davies was again culpable on the third U.S. goal, failing to close down Morris in the centre of the park and then conceding a needless foul just outside the box. Moments later, Tim Reams free-kick was met by Aaron Long, who sent a powerful header sailing past Borjan.

A 3-0 lead for the U.S. after 33 minutes – if this was a boxing match, the ref would have called an immediate halt to the proceedings then and there, protecting a punch-drunk Canadian team that was unable to defend itself.

Curaçao – 8th: Curaçao is in League A, like Canada, but in group D with Costa Rica and Haiti. It is a group that remains up in the air, meaning that the Caribbean nation could still finish first, second, or third. From a Canadian perspective, the ideal is that Curacao lose to Costa Rica and end up second in the group, but really, as long as they dont make it to the Nations League finals, it will be danger averted. Either way, it is definitely a group to follow this window.

Matters grew worse for Canada in the first minute of the second half when Henry went down with a hamstring injury and had to be subbed out.

El Salvador – 7th: El Salvador, surprisingly, is playing in league B. They will almost certainly finish top two in their group, which would mean playing in Gold Cup Qualifiers. And, if they are upset by the Dominican Republic once again, they could play an extra round and have up to four more competitive matches. Given that they sit only three points back of Canada at the moment, this is most likely the country The Reds will be keeping their eye on closest until next June.

Canada broke up the U.S. shutout bid when Vitoria beat goalkeeper Brad Guzan with a header off a corner kick.

Of course, there are also Nations League implications in this US clash. A draw or win would send Canada through to final round as group winners. A loss, however, would leave the US with the best chance of taking that spot. Yes, it would be nice to make it to the Nations League finals, but if youre John Herdman, and for some reason you dont really care about the Nations League, theres a whole different meaning to it when you add in the knockout stages.

It was too little, too late. Any chance of a Canadian comeback was snuffed out by a sturdy American defence expertly quarterbacked by John Brooks, and another Zardes goal late in regulation time.

Gyasi Zardes wont be morphing into prime Ronaldo anytime soon, but you know what you get with the Columbus Crew forward. Hes going to give you energy, effort and a weird knack for scoring tap-in goals. One could argue that Zardes would be a better fit against a team that would try to play a little, as his energy could help ignite the press. Canada may or may not do that, but Zardes gives you consistency, even if that consistency isnt what many want to see.

Cavalry FC defender Dominick Zator and FC Edmontons Amer Didic were on the bench for Canada but did not feature on Friday.

The backline should be fairly straight-forward, with Sergino Dest making his competitive USMNT debut on one side with veteran DeAndre Yedlin providing a bit of pace on the other. John Brooks is the USMNTs best centre back when healthy, although “healthy” is the keyword there, and Friday is a great chance to see him play alongside another guy high on the depth chart like Aaron Long.

USMNT seeks payback during key revenge match against Canada in Orlando

NOTES: Canada hasnt won a competitive game on American soil in 19 attempts, a stretch that dates back to 1957… The U.S. plays Cuba on Nov. 19 in the group-stage finale. That match is being held in the Cayman Islands, even though its a home game for the Cubans – their stadium in Havana was deemed unfit to stage the contest.

The big one is that this match is do-or-die as only a win will keep the U.S. alive in the CONCACAF Nations League. Its not a trophy with any sort of prestige considering it was only created a few months ago, but it is one that the U.S. expected to at least compete for. A loss or draw would see the U.S. fail to escape the group, which, by and large, would be seen as a disaster.

U.S. players celebrate after forward Gyasi Zardes (9) scored a goal against Canada during the first half of a CONCACAF Nations League soccer match Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (John Raoux/AP)

Wil Trapp has also been subject to similar criticisms, as hes routinely been beaten by physicality since becoming a USMNT regular. However, with Michael Bradley out, Berhalter is left with Trapp, a returning Morales who has been gone for several years and a youngster in Jackson Yueill. Berhalter could just bet on the option he knows best in an effort to provide some stability.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Gyasi Zardes had a pair of goals to lead the United States past Canada 4-1 on Friday night in CONCACAF Nations League play.

Jordan Morris and Aaron Long also scored as the Americans (2-1-0) took a 3-0 lead in the first half. Sergino Dest set up Morris’s goal in the second minute of his American competitive debut.

A 4-2-2-2 system saw Jonathan Osorio and Scott Arfield, behind Samuel Piette and Mark-Anthony Kaye, put the American midfield under all sorts of pressure. As covered on the Centre Circle LIVE! podcast this week, earning possession where Canada did on the pitch meant they didnt need a hold-up or distribution option such as Lucas Cavallini. Instead, Canada could search for the piercing, line-breaking ball from their creative players to their forwards.

The Canadians would have advanced to the final four of the Nations League with a win or a tie against the Americans.

Player ratings from USMNT 4-1 Canada

Canada also needs to secure valuable ranking points to stay in the top six in CONCACAF. The top six teams in the region as of next June earn berths in the so-called Hex, the most direct route for World Cup qualifying.

A victory or a draw on Friday by the Canadians, who have played one extra game than the Americans, would see them win the group and advance to next summers Nations League finals, bringing with it additional competitive matches crucial to maintaining a spot in “the Hex” for 2022 World Cup qualifying.

With World Cup qualifying in the balance, Canada dub USMNT rematch “life or death”

The Canadians jumped into sixth in CONCACAF and 69th in the world after their 2-0 win over the U.S. (second in CONCACAF, 23rd in the world) on Oct. 15, but their place in the rankings is far from secure.

Alphonso Davies is the one to watch Friday after starting four straight matches for Bayern Munich, including his first start in the UEFA Champions League. He was influential in Bayern’s 4-0 dismantling of Borussia Dortmund, too, roasting Jadon Sancho at left fullback.

Panama, ninth in CONCACAF, hosted top-ranked Mexico in Nations League play later Friday, and a win would mean a significant jump in the rankings.

Wil Trapp will likely replace Bradley, leaving Weston McKennie and Christain Roldan in the middle. But without Pulisic, the side is missing a key attacking outlet in a match where they need to score in order to win and keep alive their chances of topping the group.

El Salvador sits seventh in CONCACAF, and while it doesn’t have a lot of points to be gained from upcoming matches against Montserrat and the Dominican Republic, it currently trails Canada by just three ranking points.

Keeping an unchanged lineup from the first matchup in October allows Herdman to switch tactics throughout the game. Canada would have numerical advantages across the pitch with the more conservative Miller at left-back, Piette in the heart of the midfield and Kaye’s ability to cover ground. Jonathan Osorio and Scott Arfield also like drifting to their respective flanks when necessary, further protecting the wings if the U.S. has possession.

United States 4, Canada 1 | 2019 Concacaf Nations League Recap

Morris volleyed the ball into the net from the back post on a quick redirect from a corner kick in the second minute of play. It was Morris’s eighth goal at the international level. Canada had not allowed a goal in its previous 284 minutes.

Scott Arfield thought he had earned a free kick — or even a penalty — after being taken down near the box in the 20th minute but the officials kept the play going.

Berhalter wants intense US in must-win Canada clash

Morris sent a cross to Zardes, who scored on a header in the 23rd minute as the Americans quickly picked apart Canada’s defence to take a 2-0 lead.

Lucas Cavallini and Samuel Piette got tied up with U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan in 30th minute while challenging for a high cross. After getting knocked to the ground Guzan exchanged words with the Canadians and had to be separated by the referee.

The U.S. was very static for the majority of October’s game. There was very little off-the-ball movement, so within a few passes, the Americans lost possession. Canada was the polar opposite and that is why they created high-quality chances, according to expected goals (xG) metrics.

Poor defending again cost Canada in the 34th minute. Tim Ream sent in a long curling cross on a free kick outside the box and Long jumped up to send in a header to make it 3-0.

Concacaf Nations League 2019: USA vs. Canada – Preview, Schedule, TV Channels, Start Time & Standings

Milan Borjan earned a yellow card in the 45th minute while arguing a call with the referee. He was angry after the U.S. was awarded a penalty kick in the box after Alphonso Davis juggled the ball on his feet and then headed the ball to Borjan, who caught it.

Several Canadians had to restrain Borjan as he shouted at the official. After he was calmed the Canadians managed to clear the ball out of the area and keep it 3-0 heading into halftime.

Canada finally got on the scoreboard in the 72nd minute when Arfield’s corner kick was tipped by Jonathan Osorio to Vitoria, who headed in near the back post.

The corner kick was made possible after Junior Hoilett fired a stinging shot at the top-left corner of the American goal but Guzan got a glove on it to send it over the crossbar.

Zardes rifled his second goal of the night into the net when a deflection bounced to him in the box. He was unmarked and able to settle the ball down before taking his shot.

The U.S., which has not lost a home game to Canada since 1957, was missing several injured regulars, including midfielder Christian Pulisic, goalkeeper Zack Steffen and midfielders Michael Bradley and Tyler Adams. Just four of the starters were on the field for the opening whistle of last month’s loss: Long and defender Tim Ream, McKennie and Morris.