The United States men’s national team lost 2-0 to Canada in World Cup qualifying Sunday — a performance U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter celebrated as “dominant” despite the defeat.
Cyle Larin scored in the seventh minute and Samuel Adekugbe clinched the result in the final seconds of stoppage time to give the Canadians the three points at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario.
“I think it was an entire team effort that was outstanding,” Berhalter said. “We asked them to be dominant, we asked them to embrace the conditions, embrace the physicality of going and I think we did that and more.
“It’s hard for me to remember a performance away from home this dominant without getting a result.”
– ESPN+ viewers guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, more
– Futbol Americas on ESPN+: MLS, Liga MX, USMNT, El Tri
– World Cup 2022 qualifying: How it works around the world
The United States out-possessed Canada (63% to 37%) and had more shots (13 to 8), but it was the Canadian side — perfectly content to concede possession and attack the U.S. on the counter — that created the more dangerous goal-scoring chances. Canada tallied 1.17 xG to 0.94, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
GP PTS GD
1 – Canada 10 22 +12
2 – USA 10 18 +6
3 – Mexico 10 18 +5
4 – Panama 10 17 +2
5 – Costa Rica 10 13 0
6 – El Salvador 10 9 -5
7 – Jamaica 10 7 -6
8 – Honduras 10 3 -14
1-3 qualify; 4 into playoff
It was Canada’s first win against the United States in World Cup qualifying since 1980 and one that provides plenty of breathing room atop the CONCACAF standings. With four matches to play, Canada has 22 points — four points ahead of the United States, which came into the day a point ahead of third-place Mexico.
After starting Jesus Ferreira against El Salvador on Thursday, Berhalter turned to Gyasi Zardes — whom he coached at the club level with the Columbus Crew — at striker, but the move didn’t pay off. Zardes didn’t register any of the Americans’ three shots on target and was replaced by Ricardo Pepi in the 69th minute.
“That was an easy one,” Berhalter said, when asked why Zardes started. “We knew what the game was going to look like. We knew it’s a very narrow field, small field. We knew it was going to be a very physical game and we thought that Gyasi would give us that physicality. And from looking at his performance. I think he did that. Again, I don’t think we got him enough service in the box to get him dangerous.”
Canada took a page out the USMNT’s playbook in World Cup qualifying role reversal
Solo, Dempsey, Boxx into Soccer Hall of Fame
Despite playing on the narrow turf field in Hamilton, Ontario, the United States still elected to play the ball down the sides and send in crosses.
“It probably has the width of Yankee Stadium and we’re playing on a very poor field turf,” Berhalter said. “So that also translates into some difficulties in processing and creating chances, but that’s not an excuse. We still want to be better in front of goal.”
Canada’s physical approach was something Berhalter said did not impact the way his team played.
“They couldn’t handle our physicality. That’s plain and simple,” Berhalter said. “We were running them all over the pitch and when you look at duels won, when you look at our pressing — they had a very, very hard time dealing with what we were giving them.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Canada won 50.7% of the duels in the game.
The United States will fly to Minnesota on Sunday in advance of Wednesday’s game against Honduras.
Got a story or tip for us? Email Sports Gossip editors at email@example.com
Want More From Sports Gossip?