Canada 0-0 USA - as it happened
Oh, it’s ON! This one is going to be NASTY! The most heated rivalry in Concacaf (if you don’t count the other minor, Rafa-and-Cobi, dos-a-cero, border skirmish - and having been taught local sporting sensitivities by no less an authority than Jürgen Klinsmann, I don’t…) plays out tonight. BE THERE!
Or be here with me as I hack at a laptop. Welcome to BMO Field for coverage of Canada’s game against the US - both teams’ final warm up game for their World Cup Qualifying campaigns. The US will be facing Antigua and Barbuda on Friday night, while Canada will have a qualifier against Cuba on the same night. The US of course have had a busy and high-profile week - beating Scotland 5-1 in Florida last weekend, before losing 4-1 to Brazil in Maryland a few days later. So, if we extrapolate results from the relative location of the games the USMNT are on course to lose something like 12-minus 3 in Toronto tonight - though predicting anything in relation to the US team based on previous results is a pretty thankless task. In an ongoing trait that has continued under Klinsmann, it seems they can beat or lose to anyone.
If their hosts want to take heart from that American inconsistency though, they might have to look past the statistic that says they haven’t beaten the United States in 27 years - during which time that Mexico v USA rivalry has tended to be the dominant one in Concacaf - which is a shame, as there’s plenty of potential edge to this one - especially as the Canadian domestic game continues to grow stronger. But the fact remains that since that 2-0 victory in Vancouver in 1985, there has been a 14 game stretch without a Canadian win over their neighbors to the South. DeRo and co would love to change the record tonight, while the US would like more of the free-flowing soccer they played against Scotland (and which despite the scoreline, they showed flashes of doing against Brazil).
More on the teams, how to be “more nastier”, and the pre-game shortly. And do send me your tweets and e-mails over the course of the evening to @KidWeil on Twitter or emails here. In the meantime here’s some of last week’s action to whet your appetite.
Canada haven’t played since February, when they lost 3-1 to Armenia. They last played the US a year ago - losing 2-0 in a Gold Cup game in Detroit. Stephen Hart will obviously be hoping that Dwayne De Rosario can replicate some of the club form he has been playing himself into recently with MLS Eastern Conference leaders DC United, while perhaps also hoping that Preston’s Iain Hume build on his promising domestic form if he gets on.
And of course there’s home field advantage in Toronto - where an enthusiastic crowd are expected for the visit of the US, and where according to our regular Toronto FC game previewer, Duncan Fletcher, of Waking the Red, the “Canada supporters bar is currently packed. Stupidly long lines for beer.”
The Guardian. First with the news that counts.
I asked Duncan if he’d be tweeting to me throughout the game, but he said he “always pledged I wouldn’t be the guy in his phone during the game itself”, which is a stance I thoroughly support. I for one certainly won’t be playing Angry Birds during injury breaks.
What else? Other than Hume, there are a couple of other Canadian players in the squad who may be familiar to European viewers: Kevin McKenna of FC Köln and Atiba Hutchinson of PSV.
Looks like we might see Dempsey and Donovan up front tonight - though with Dempsey just coming back from injury, Klinsmann may be tempted to wait until the competitive game on Friday, just to be on the safe side. Whatever the combination up front, seasoned USA-watchers will be looking at the deeper midfield three and seeing if they can provide a platform for the front line to find space.
During the Guardian minute-by-minute coverage for the USA v Scotland, the announcement of the line-ups was followed within seconds by the first tweeted comment on the US team’s shape:
“@KidWeil Holy Defensive Midfielders, Batman!”
It was a not unreasonable reading of the US team sheet, given the role most of these players perform for their club sides - but with Johnson actually deployed in the problem full back position and reinforcing his claim for it, Bradley constantly getting his head up and looking for either the quick transitional ball or chance to forge forward, and Jones consistently bringing wide players in on the overlap, only Edu consistently sat in front of the defense - and unlike some other unsure performances in national team colors, looked all the more settled for the clearly defined role (with Edu anchoring the 3, Jones also benefited from having the freedom to get forward).
So despite the attention on Donovan’s performance, there’s an argument that says that just as important to the outcome was the space he got to operate in, because of the success of the players behind him (and yes, this comes with a certain caveat that Scotland’s own attempt at 4-3-3 conceded as much space as the USA created). Even in the Brazil game, with more collective errors at the back and less space all round, there were signs that the system (whether 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, 4-1-2-3, 4-3-1-2) could cause problems to even the best teams going forward.
Can: GK Hirschfeld; Hainault, McKenna, Edgar, Klukowski; De Guzman, Ledgerwood, Johnson; Ricketts, De Rosario, Occean.
USA: GK Howard, Bocanegra, Bradley, Cherundolo, Dempsey, Donovan, Goodson, Gomez, Castillo, Jones, Torres.
Johnson pulled up in the warm up and will be replaced by Castillo. Another of our regular Guardian previewers, Sofiane Benzaza, is taking a break from Montreal Impact thoughts for international duty, and comments:
“@KidWeil not sure on Castillo’s value or previous performances but Fabian Johnson is injured and is a hell of a player and outside back”
Johnson had solved a headache at the back - interesting to see how Castillo copes there.
Looks like a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 for the US. Strong looking side though. Canada should have their hands full.
story on the 99th year of the US Open Cup from last week.For history buffs, there’s a pre-game parade going on to honor the 100th year of Canadian soccer’s governing body today. And if you want to read more on North American soccer tradition, you could check out our
Short ad break to watch David Beckham selling burgers and we’re back for the anthems.
I am saying nothing about last week’s performance. Nothing. Oh go on then…no, best leave it.
Let’s just say that this week’s versions are sung carefully.
Lots of USA!USA!USA! chants then - which will please regular readers of the Guardian’s Fiver feature. Canada in their centennial commemorative blue kit, USA in their new red and white stripes (which are slowly growing on me).
Canada kick off. Immediately Patrick Sheehan (@hologram_pat) is on to honk:
“@KidWeil American anthem sung properly; things already off to an unusual start.”
First long ball through for Gomez, who does well to earn a corner by generally being a nuisance, if not exactly nasty.
Torres whips it in and it’s not properly cleared. Donovan gets in to the box and forces another corner…
…chance of sorts, as the ball comes to Goodson from the corner, but it’s behind him and he can only improvise a back heeled flick over the bar from an unmarked, close range position. Good start from the visitors.
US have started brightly and are pinging the ball around. MBM regular Daniel Joseph (@BDanielJoseph) is on fashion watch:
“@KidWeil Those Canada track jackets are sick.”
Decent cross from the left by Torres, which Gomez can’t head on goal. All the action taking place at one end of the field so far.
Canada sitting in a 4-5-1 off the ball, which doesn’t help their attacking prospects but…
Suddenly De Rosario gets behind the defense and turns and shoots just past the post to keep the USA honest. It takes a deflection for a corner which is cleared easily. Warning shot for the US though.
Canada inching into the game now - they try to get DeRo in possession on the left but he can’t keep it in. Kyle Martino thinks Dempsey needs to drop deeper to stop De Guzman picking up the ball so easily. He has a point. Still 0-0.
Ricketts has a half chance on a long ball that Howard has to be smartly out to. Now the US try to get going with some possession football but it’s broken up and Canada try another long ball forward…
The ref misses a glorious chance to make a farcical name for himself by spotting that Hainault’s bike shorts, beneath his regular kit, are not the regulation color, then deciding to let it go - when under FIFA and Physical Education laws, his entire team should have been forced to play without shirts for the rest of the game. De Guzman gets a booking for a more conventional foul a minute later.
CHANCE! Castillo wallops a great one from distance that Hirschfeld does very well to tip over. Would have been a wonder goal. That’ll do his confidence good.
Occean gets beyond Goodson for another half chance for Canada, but can’t connect. Daniel Joseph is tickled by what is now officially Shortgate:
“@KidWeil We just missed the greatest forfeit in the history of the game due to compression shorts.”
Canada trying to pressure a little now, but Bradley breaks up the play and gets forward on the right. Now Torres runs at the back line and tries to get Dempsey free. Ledgerwood gives up a free kick on the far right…
…it’s driven in and half-cleared but only as far as Castillo, who utilizes his newly found long-shot prowess to almost snap the corner flag.
Semantic watch. Arlo and Kyle in the NBC booth are discussing the difference between “snarling” at the referee and “lobbying” them. Jürgen knows.
Chance! Long Canadian throw causes confusion in the US box and breaks for Ricketts to get off a half shot that Howard has to get down to quickly. Decent chance that. But still 0-0.
USA definitely started the stronger, but Canada are growing in confidence, even if they’re not committing too many men forward. De Guzman keeps finding space to turn, look up and seek out the front men. He tries it again here, but this time the US break it up and get forward. Great flick from Castillo for Gomez, who forces a corner…
…it clears everyone, but Castillo picks it up and goes on an exploratory run at the heart of the Canadian defense. He’s looked very lively so far, since being thrown in at the last minute.
Bocanegra sent sprawling into the advertising hoardings as he tussles with Occean. Sofiane (@MtRoyalSoccer) is back:
“If #CMNT can find a way to pressure Bradley that would be key to the game.. my humble opinion #USMNT @KidWeil”
Bradley is sitting deeper this game, with Edu out for Dempsey. I think as it stands, and the little bit of space De Guzman is finding, Canada can be reasonably happy with balance of the midfield battle.
DeRo is fouled as he turns and releases a sharp through ball from the center of the park in search of Ricketts. He’s drifted in from the left a little now in search of the ball. Free kick is wasted though.
Dempsey and Gomez break but the latter has to hold the ball up as support is too slow to arrive. Canada back quickly and the move is snuffed out. A little ponderous from the US so far.
CONTROVERSY! Ball is in the net as Ledgerwood shoots from an acute angle, but the assistant has flagged for an earlier infringement involving DeRo, that on second look looks very dubious. Canada can feel aggrieved.
Will that fire up Canada or wake up USA? Donovan knocks a deep cross on which McKenna gets clear.
Looks like the US have picked up a little since that let off. Torres sends another teasing cross in, then in the next sequence look to get the ball forward from the back again. Still not wholly convincing movement though and Canada not looking too troubled. 0-0.
Johnson thinks about a long shot, but the window closes and US win a goal kick. Replay of the disallowed goal being shown, and the very minor contact from DeRo looks like…minor contact.
CHANCE! Neat one-two between Dempsey and Donovan sees Dempsey clean in on goal, but Hirschfeld is able to smother the ball at his feet. A minute later Dempsey has another shot that goes straight at the keeper. Game getting livelier before the half.
Another tweet. Darius Tahir (@dariustahir) writes:
“@KidWeil Castillo regressing to the mean rapidly.”
Which is maybe a little unfair. Wild shot aside, Castillo has looked lively.
Dempsey has come into the game a little in the last few minutes - dropping deeper now and finding space. But as the commentary team are pointing out, he only has Gomez in front of him when he does this. US not getting players forward quickly in this formation.
No added time. Landon Donovan stalks off, looking peevish rather than nasty - but it’s a start. Not a great game. Half time thoughts in a minute.
The Twitter has been twitching:
Darius Tahir is back to take me to task for defending Castillo:
“@KidWeil Not unfair at all. Basically gave up a goal if not for a lucky call and has been sloppy and had many other poor decisions.”
“@KidWeil basically, never confuse activity with achievement.”
Which given that confusing activity with achievement is my one true talent, is doubly unfair…
Christopher Dwyer (@dwyercd) says:
“@KidWeil I’m stealing from someone else’s tweet, but this is exactly what we’re going to see from Guatemala, minus the diving and play-acting”
The American social media consensus seems to be that Canada are getting men behind the ball and being difficult to break down - true enough. But the US aren’t helping themselves with a formation that is making them look rather leaden at times. Bradley is sitting very deep and looks wasted there, while Dempsey, bar a flicker of an exchange with Donovan, has not had many outlets when he finds space outside the box.
Will Klinsmann shake things up a little in the second half?
Speaking yesterday, JK insisted he was misunderstood regarding his comments about the US team getting more nasty. Thought he was quite clear, myself…
We’re doing an international week “5 things we learned…” for tomorrow’s US Guardian, and we’ll talk about his remarks a little there. For this game though, a little more cavalier attacking play and a little less cautious pragmatism, might make the difference.
And we’re off again. Klinsmann was just interviewed pitch side and mentioned that the team will now have the wind at their backs and the sun out of their eyes - wafer thin margins at the top level, people…
Both Dempsey and Bradley deep in their own half looking for the ball. Bradley gives it away and Canada have a glimmer of a chance with a ball whipped in just in front of Occean, which Howard gathers.
There’s the wind then… Bradley picks up the ball deep and Quarterback’s a long ball way too long for Donovan up front.
Hainault cuts out a ball intended for Gomez and Canada get forward. Ricketts barges down the right and hits a dangerous cross that just evades Occean. Decent chance.
Dempsey still dropping very deep to try to get touches/fitness, but he needs to be further up the field with Bradley still very deep. Loud chorus of “God Bless America” ringing out from the American Outlaws supporters behind Howard’s goal.
Another Canada attack, another example of persistence from Ricketts as he forces a shooting chance. For once the US counter quickly and a Donovan cross for Jones forces a sharp stop. Still no goals.
Decent chance as Dempsey forces the tempo going forward, before almost getting on the end of a move he initiated, but the cross just clears his head as he hangs well in the box. Better from the US with him in that advanced position.
Houston’s Hainault picks up a yellow for a foul on Jones. Free kick near right corner of box…
…curled in well by Donovan and Bocanegra reaches it, but gets too much on it. Ball flies over.
USA have a throw on the left but throw it back to try a patient build up again. they earn a corner which Donovan will take…
…deep into the Canadian box, but won’t fall for a US attacker and Canada clear. Still 0-0
We may see the first subs soon. Game very scrappy at the moment. Looks like it’s Onyewu getting ready for the US.
CHANCE! Ricketts again makes a nuisance of himself on the right and eventually a ball is crossed in behind the US bak line where De Rosario is lurking. Howard is forced to make a point blank save, though DeRo was offside anyway. But the US were caught flat-footed. Still no score though.
Altidore and Onyewu on. Bocanegra and Torres out. Dempsey hits a decent free kick just wide from a decent position.
De Guzman sends an awkward looking cross across the six yard box and Canada press a little as the US struggle to clear. Jones is down having picked up a blow to the face from Ledgerwood.
Norwich City’s Jackson comes on for Occean for Canada.
Ledgerwood has a snap shot from a Canada throw that Howard has to get down to again. Canada have had some decent chances, while the US have struggled to find space all evening.
Jackson feeds De Guzman on the edge of the box as Canada get more adventurous. De Guzman’s shot lacks power but at least makes Howard stop it. Hard to remember last US shot on target.
Chance! Another giveaway by Bradley, lets in Jackson who runs at the heart of the US defense and tries to chip Howard off his line. just over, but yet another warning for the USA. Still 0-0 though.
Johnson spreads the ball nicely for Canada, as he’s done all game, but Canada ultimately can’t make anything of it. Edu warming up for the USA.
US have a throw to the left of the box. they work it right where first Cherundulo, with a drive,then Donovan, with a lob, try to ask questions of the Canadian defense. Nothing doing though. Let’s see what Edu’s introduction brings, formation-wise.
Another throw to the US deep in Canadian territory. Before it can be taken, Ledgerwood comes out for Pacheco, and Edu comes on for the very quiet Donovan, with the switch to 4-3-3
Will we get a livelier last 15 mins with the formation change? Should hopefully be a little more open. Canada have a free kick on the left…
De Rosario knocks it in towards the near post but McKenna can’t direct his header and now US will try to build again.
Now it’s a US corner which Bradley will take…
…it’s bundled clear and Canada break at speed. Jones seems to bring down Jackson outside the box and is booked. Canada can’t make anything of the free kick though. Still 0-0.
Bradley tries to send one forward but is immediately on the back foot as Canada intercept again and De Rosario runs at the Americans. It breaks down but Bradley has not been at his best tonight. Parkhurst and Wondolowski on for Cherundulo and Gomez.
Last ten minutes then and Canada may be thinking they could nick this, though Wondolowski plays for a San Jose side with a habit of scoring late… Would be a great time for him to get his first US goal.
Johnson picks up a yellow for Canada. Bad ball from Parkhurst from the free kick and Canada can attack. they take a quick free kick and Jackson forces Goodson to concede a throw as he gets in on the last man.
Onyewu has to be up well to clear a dangerous cross, with Canada looking the more lively team at this stage of the game. At the other end Jones goes down rather easily under a challenge from Jazic, but the referee doesn’t look at it seriously. Up the other end again and Canada have a corner…
Preston’s Hume is on for Canada, and 17-year old Piette comes on too, for De Guzman.
Another Canada sub as Jazic comes off for Klukowski. The game has never get going enough to describe what’s happening now as it “petering out”…but the energy has dropped.
Canada have a corner which DeRo will take. Altidore gets a head to it, but the US make hard work of getting it clear. Finally they get forward…
…but seem to change their mind and pass it backwards at walking pace. Seems the US may be happy with a 0-0 draw. 3 minutes to be added on.
Hume harries at the edge of the US box and eventually earns a free kick some 40 yards out, which De Rosario is over…
TERRIBLE MISS! The free kick isn’t cleared well and De Rosario scurries down the left to fire a low cross across the six yard box, which Jackson meets two yards out, but can only direct his shot wide. Still 0-0, should have been a winner for Canada. But now the US have a free kick at the other end…
CHANCE! …and now it’s the USA’s turn to almost steal it as Bradley’s free kick is headed powerfully at Hirschfeld by Goodson, with the keeper forced into a reflex save for a corner…
…corner comes to nothing and that’s that. Final score: Canada 0 USA 0. Final thoughts in a moment.
Well it wasn’t pretty and the US formation looked pretty static throughout. Dempsey had a muted game, but in the greater scheme of things will be glad to have got 90 minutes as he builds up back from injury. Canada will be happy enough that after the first few minutes of US pressure they held their own throughout. Ricketts looked lively on the right, as did Jackson when he came on.
The qualifiers are next - hope you’ll join us for those. I’ll leave the final word with Daniel Joseph:
“@KidWeil Literally all I got out of this friendly is that I am buying a Canada jersey and wearing it. It’s old school, yet snazzy.”
It’s just like the Guardian… See you tomorrow for 5 things we learned - good night for now.
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