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USA vs. Canada, CONCACAF Nations League group stage: What to watch for

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The USMNT head to Toronto for their first road test.

Cuba v United States - CONCACAF Nations League Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The United States Men’s National Team will hit the road in CONCACAF Nations League when they travel to Toronto to play Canada tomorrow night. The USMNT had a great night at the office against Cuba, and they will look to have a similarly good performance against Canada. A win will see the USMNT in first place in Group A with 2 matches to go, so will they take care of business in The 6?

Recent Form

USA

W (7-0) - Cuba - CONCACAF Nations League Group A

D (1-1) - Uruguay - Friendly

L (0-3) - Mexico - Friendly

L (0-1) - Mexico - Gold Cup Final

W (3-1) - Jamaica - Gold Cup Semifinals

Canada

W (1-0) - Cuba - CONCACAF Nations League Group A

W (6-0) - Cuba - CONCACAF Nations League Group A

L (2-3) - Haiti - Gold Cup Quarterfinals

W(7-0) - Cuba - Gold Cup Group A

L (1-3) - Mexico - Gold Cup Group A

What to watch for

Keep possession. The USMNT will need to be more diligent about keeping possession against a much improved Canada squad. They must take care of the ball and make crisp passes, moving the ball forward to the attackers. They will want to have 60% possession to be successful, and against Canada that should be a priority.

Don’t let anyone behind the defense. Guys like Alphonso Davies and Mark-Anthony Kaye will try to fly past the defense. It’s easy to say that the defense shouldn’t let anyone behind them, but they can’t lose track of Canada’s attackers that can beat them. The back line needs to hold steady and make sure they’re following their marking assignments. If they do that, they won’t have much to clean up in the defensive half.

Play with fire. Canada will be jacked up for this. They already have expressed their “natural hate” for the USMNT and they clearly consider us their main rival. They need this win to have any chance of moving up enough to get into the Hex for World Cup qualifying. They’re going to want to play well and get their home crowd behind them to generate some momentum. The USMNT have to match that fire. If they don’t, Canada can shock them. But, when you’re on the road, you have to dial up the intensity several times higher than normal. Let’s see if they can bring that fire to a chilly BMO Field.

Lineup Prediction

There will probably be a few changes for head coach Gregg Berhalter from the lineup that appeared against Cuba on Friday night. Canada is a much better opponent than Cuba, so Berhalter will likely go with what he thinks is his best lineup from the players on the roster:

USMNT Predicted Lineup vs. Canada

Zack Steffen will be in goal, and DeAndre Yedlin will join Daniel Lovitz, Tim Ream, and Matt Miazga on the back line. Yedlin will be called upon to move into the center defensive midfield position at times, but he will get his first action for the national team in a bit after returning from injury.

In the middle, Michael Bradley occupies the defensive midfield role, while Weston McKennie and Sebastian Lletget hold down the middle as well. McKennie’s performance on Friday was one for the ages, and having him involved in the offensive attack will be excellent against Canada.

Up front, Christian Pulisic will move back to the right wing and Tyler Boyd will likely get the start on the left. In the middle, while Josh Sargent had a nice game against Cuba, you have to expect Gyasi Zardes to get the start up top. He has been Berhalter’s preferred striker and he will turn to him for the biggest road match left on the Nations League schedule.

Score Prediction

Canada’s going to be fired up for this one, and we won’t see a hat trick in the first 13 minutes of the match. However, the USMNT find a way to break through in the middle of the first half and add another in the second half as well. It’s a 2-0 USMNT victory, and they leave Toronto as Group A leaders.