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.
The Canadians would have advanced to the final four of the Nations League with a win or a tie against the Americans.
Share All sharing options Share All sharing options for: Recap: USMNT comfortably beats Canada in Orlando, gets their revenge Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports The United States needed a big performance, and they sure provided just that on Friday evening, beating the Canadians 4-1 in Orlando.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
Milan Borjan (3/10) — Conceding four goals is never good for a goalkeeper. He didnt need to rush out to close down Morris on the second goal, leaving the net exposed. Made an error on that bizarre in-direct free kick late in the first half, too.
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.
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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.
A victory over Cuba next Tuesday will see the U.S. win Group A and earn a spot in the Concacaf Nations League finals next June. Canada would only advance if the Americans lose in the neutral venue match taking place in the Cayman Islands.
Brooks 8/10, Zardes 7/10 as U.S. avenges last months Canada defeat
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.
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 by earning a historic 2-0 win in Toronto, its first victory over the Americans in 34 years.
Its pride stung from that defeat, the U.S. turned the tables and exacted revenge in the cruellest of fashions via a convincing 4-1 victory on a rainy evening in Orlando.
Believe it or not, this wasnt as close as the final score indicates, with the Americans completely outplaying a limp Canadian side that trailed 3-0 after 34 minutes, and was let down by underwhelming individual performances from key players and undone by some very slopping defending. Had the U.S. not took its foot off the gas in the second half, the damage could have been far worse for Canada.
A draw on Friday would have meant a first-place finish in Group A for the Canadians, as well as securing them a birth at next summers Concacaf Nations League finals. Instead, their fate is now out of their hands.
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.
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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.
How things can change so quickly and turn on a dime. 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.
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.”
“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.
Then theres Jonathan David, Davies strike partner in last months U.S. tilt. The 19-year-old scored in back-to-back league matches (season total of eight) for KAA Gent before joining the Canada squad in Florida. David has played every minute of the Belgian sides group-topping Europa League performance this year, potting two goals.
That might be true, but the teenager also plays with teammates of a far greater calibre at club level than with the Canadian national team. Mistakes he commits as a left fullback for Canada are ruthlessly punished by opponents, as the U.S. showed on Friday. At Bayern, his shortcomings at the left back position aren’t as grievous thanks to a much stronger supporting cast.
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?
Canada dominated possession (63.6 per cent) and out-passed the U.S. by a wide margin (520-301). Statistical dominance aside, the visitors were outmuscled in midfield and were made to pay for their defensive errors.
“In my mind, when I look at the performance, the difference is they were bloody clinical tonight,” Herdman 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.
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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. Not even 90 seconds had elapsed, and Canada was already in a hole.
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, Vitoria failing to deal with a ball played into the box, and goalkeeper Milan Borjan rushing off his line instead of holding his position.
Davies was again culpable in the buildup to 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 took advantage of some slack defending before sending a powerful header sailing past Borjan.
United States 4-1 Canada: USA secure payback in CONCACAF Nations League
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.
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.
Canada broke up the U.S. shutout bid when Vitoria beat goalkeeper Brad Guzan with a header off a corner kick.
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.
Cavalry FC defender Dominick Zator and FC Edmontons Amer Didic were on the bench for Canada but did not feature on Friday.
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.