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The Canada men’s national team cemented its place atop CONCACAF’s Octagonal standings, besting the United States 2-0 Sunday in a World Cup qualification game.
Cyle Larin opened the scoring in the seventh minute, capitalizing on some sloppy play out of the back by U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner and some porous defending by the U.S. defense and midfield. Stoppage time saw left wing back Sam Adekugbe open his international scoring account, slotting a shot past Turner to double their lead.
The United States was unable to seriously challenge Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan more than once or twice, and the hosts’ assertiveness in defense allowed the visitors to hold possession in non-threatening areas.
"I don’t think (Canada) dominated much of anything, but one thing that separates Canada from the rest of the group is the quality of their strikers to finish a small amount of chances," USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter said following the match. He added that it was difficult for him "to remember a more dominant performance away from home that didn't produce a result."
Canada will close its window with a visit to El Salvador on Wednesday. The United States will aim to end on a higher note with a game in Saint Paul, Minn. against Honduras.
(Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
January 30, 2022 at 9:02 PM EST
So while USA loses ground to Canada, they don't lose significant ground.
Here's a look at the table.
January 30, 2022 at 6:56 PM EST
It’s 0-0 at the break after an uninspired performance from Mexico in the first 45 minutes. Plenty of chances were created but the energy and intensity was not there. Fatigue seemed to set in very early for both sides. Costa Rica is bunkered in the back and hoping to surprise El Tri on the counter, and they’ve come close. Tico defender Celso Borges had a wide open header late in the half, but he put it right at Mexico goalkeeper Memo Ochoa.
Fortunately for Mexico, Tata Martino has several attacking options on the bench. Expect to see Alexis Vega, Henry Martin and Diego Lainez come on in the second half.
January 30, 2022 at 5:06 PM EST
Canada capitalizes on the biggest mistake of the match, with Cyle Larin's record-setter proving decisive and cementing the Reds' place atop the Octagonal standings — with Sam Adekugbe's first international goal adding an exclamation point. It's a sobering result for the United States, who must now shift focus from winning the Octagonal to ensuring solid footing among the region's top-three.
More to come at The Athletic — and we'll be back in this space on Wednesday!
SAM ADEKUGBE SCORES HIS FIRST GOAL FOR CANADA. 🔥🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/AyCWcvrqox
January 30, 2022 at 4:54 PM EST
For a while anyway, half of the field players on the pitch for the United States spent time in the FC Dallas academy: Chris Richards, Reggie Cannon, Kellyn Acosta, Ricardo Pepi and Weston McKennie.
However, Richards picked up an apparent ankle injury after a challenge from Jonathan David. The visitors are out of substitutions, making things tricky for the Hoffenheim center back.
January 30, 2022 at 4:45 PM EST
Still a five-sub maximum in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Reggie Cannon checks in for Sergiño Dest at right back for his first international appearance since the Gold Cup. In a more tactical change, Paul Arriola replaces Yunus Musah, sending Christian Pulisic into a more central role.
January 30, 2022 at 4:42 PM EST
The goalkeepers have arguably been the story of Canada-U.S. so far. While Matt Turner's poor goal kick led to a series of defensive issues on the only goal thus far, he comes up big with a double save to bail out some slow and sloppy build-up play on another goal kick. This time, Miles Robinson sat on the ball before sending it to Sergiño Dest, whose attempt to send it up ricocheted off of his mark and back into Canadian possession. The second shot by Cyle Larin appeared to temporarily knock the wind out of Turner, but he appears okay to continue.
As for Milan Borjan, whose massive save on Weston McKennie's header kept the U.S. from equalizing before halftime. stoppages in play allow for additional layering beyond his track pants.
Some heroes do wear capes. Borjan staying warm during a break in play. #CanMNT pic.twitter.com/KMNCML9wIH
January 30, 2022 at 4:37 PM EST
Throughout qualification, Tyler Adams has cemented his place as one of the very most essential parts of this USMNT. However, he appears to have picked up a knock and required a substitution; we'll keep you posted on his status as we learn more.
Kellyn Acosta comes into the midfield in Adams' place, stationed behind Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah. Simultaneously, Ricardo Pepi checks in for Gyasi Zardes at striker, while Jordan Morris makes his second straight appearance off the bench in place of Brenden Aaronson.
January 30, 2022 at 4:29 PM EST
The United States has done well to minimize Canada's attacking threat, and the hosts don't seem entirely uncomfortable with dropping deep, absorbing pressure and springing the counter with Jonathan David and Cyle Larin. Brenden Aaronson has had the only shot since the break, sending a chance from just outside the box right into Borjan's gullet.
Despite outshooting Canada 8-2, Aaronson's attempt was just the second the United States have put on-frame.
January 30, 2022 at 4:26 PM EST
In the first matchup against Canada, Sergiño Dest was largely a defensive liability against Alphonso Davies. With the Bayern man unavailable this time around, Dest is holding his own against the dangerous Tajon Buchanan, also offering good recoveries and toe-poke dispossessions in the attacking half to keep the United States on the ball.
He has yet to make much of an impact on the attack, but that defensive boost is a great sign of progress for the Barcelona wing back.
January 30, 2022 at 4:13 PM EST
…but that doesn't mean Alphonso Davies isn't making his presence known, Twitch-streaming his reactions for a second straight qualifier.
We’re here for Alphonso Davies reacting to @CanadaSoccerEN goals 💪
(📸: https://t.co/E2GsEUcPH2) pic.twitter.com/9bQyshavwX
January 30, 2022 at 4:12 PM EST
Canada is incredibly physical. They've got great athletes all over the field, and clearly want to make the US really feel them. The US actually played relatively well in the opening 45, unlocked Canada a few times in the attack, moving with decent pace in possession, but they can't match Canada's physicality. The Americans have the athletes, but they don't have the same edge.
January 30, 2022 at 4:03 PM EST
While the United States have outshot Canada 7-2, the hosts had by far the best scoring chance of the interval.
🇺🇸 #USMNT had 63% possession and outshot Canada 7-2.
🇨🇦 Canada had the only shot over 0.1 xG. pic.twitter.com/Axp23hoeJa
January 30, 2022 at 4:01 PM EST
Canada's physicality may have gotten them in trouble a few times, and it'll hurt not having Steven Vitoria available against El Salvador due to yellow card accumulation, but being the aggressor seemed to suit them. The Americans were able to maintain a healthy amount of possession in the Canadian half but Canada quickly pounced on loose balls and didn't look intimidated in the slightest. And of course, as has been the case throughout qualifying, their quick vertical play helped them in transition.
January 30, 2022 at 3:57 PM EST
It's been a bit too predictable from the United States since the October window. Aside from Timothy Weah, few U.S. attackers have been able to really test a defense with individual verve. With the Lille winger unavailable, it's been too routine for the visitors.
Canada a deserved leader at the break.
January 30, 2022 at 3:54 PM EST
While Tyler Adams and Christian Pulisic are both the types to lead by example, Weston McKennie is trying to catalyze the visitors. He isn't backing out of challenges and has thrown a little extra into his shoulder-to-shoulder challenges. He also nearly leveled the scoring on a corner kick from the left, as Pulisic found McKennie in a mismatch. However, the Juventus midfielder's attempt was parried away by Milan Borjan, who had a demonstrative celebration worthy of the stop.
Berhalter, for what its worth, has gone into his bag of tricks for a behind-the back pass to a USMNT throw-in specialist. It's the little things when you're down 1-0.
THESE HANDS ARE FROM HAMILTON, ON. 🔨
Milan Borjan makes a HUGE save to keep the #CanMNT up 1-0 over the #USMNT at the stroke of HT 🧤 pic.twitter.com/DkhPbHf4Sf
January 30, 2022 at 3:43 PM EST
Steven Vitória will miss Canada's next qualifier after the center back's heavy challenge on Christian Pulisic to stop a counter.
Ref finally pulls a yellow on Vitoria for a foul on Pulisic. I'd say it's the third yellow-worthy foul on Pulisic through 31 minutes. Not unfamiliar existence for Pulisic, but still been frustrating for him each time he hits the cold turf.
January 30, 2022 at 3:35 PM EST
While the intense cold is changing how the ball bounces off of the turf, the scarcity of turf pitches outside of North America does give a slight advantage of familiarity for those with MLS experience. Both teams are turning up the physicality and getting increasingly chippy, daring Mexican center official Cesar Ramos into using his whistle. Perhaps the cold is giving him second thoughts about putting lips to metal, but Ramos is thus far letting the teams play even as they show extra aggression.
The United States is starting to find more momentum in attack as they look to work the ball into the wings. One area which needs addressing, however, is the team's corner kicks. Christian Pulisic has taken the first three from the right side, and without a left-footed option to swing them in, all three have been easy for Canada to suss out.
January 30, 2022 at 3:25 PM EST
Canada showing their superior center forward play on that goal. Incredibly direct. Looked like Turner's goal kick got held up in the wind, which allowed Kaye to nod a relatively uncontested header forward to Osorio. From there, it was on touch to Larin, one touch to David, one touch back to Larin and then in on goal. Really nice, effective move from Canada. US maybe switched off just a little bit. Only for a moment, but the margins are fine against this attack.
January 30, 2022 at 3:21 PM EST
Early on, pants-clad goalkeeper Milan Borjan sent a goal kick directly at Yunus Musah, suggesting the ball isn't flying as usual between the cold climate and how it sets on the hard turf. Mere minutes later, Turner's struggles on a restart set his team back right away.
Poor work from the midfield and central defenders to slow Canada down. Just too easy for the hosts all around.
🔴 https://t.co/7JFAUhgjL6 pic.twitter.com/gDkF8XJfMO
January 30, 2022 at 3:18 PM EST
Canada punishes the United States for a lackadaisical goal kick to open the scoring in the seventh minute. Matt Turner gets his goal kick all wrong and sends it into the heart of the midfield, and it's too easy for Kamal Miller to get the turnover and start a break. Cyle Larin picked his place well to beat Matt Turner to his right, leaving Gregg Berhalter with little more to do than shake his head.
The goal is Larin's 23rd for Canada, surpassing Dwayne De Rosario as the nation's all-time leading men's goalscorer.
HE'S DONE IT 🚨
A NEW ALL-TIME LEADING GOAL-SCORER FOR THE #CANMNT 🍁