The US Men’s National Team was back in Nations League action as it looked for its second win of the tournament at BMO Field in Canada. It would not come for the Americans. Rather, Canada was determined to play defensively and try to counter or take advantage of an American mistake. The USA was not up for the task on the evening and goals from Alphonso Davies and Lucas Cavallini carried the day for the home team. Canada may have had the advantage of playing at home on more rest, but the US is undoubtedly the more talented team. That didn’t show on the field or in the scoreline with a bad loss in the second Nations League game for the Stars and Stripes.
Despite late night training sessions after the Cuba match, Canada outmatched the US who also lacked any ideas about breaking Canada down and even seemed to be unable to find the drive and energy to try and equalize. In the end, it was a well deserved result for the team that puts the North in North America as the US once again lost in unimpressive fashion.
A historic night in Canada’s capital
It didn’t exactly start off historic. Canada’s night got off to a rough start as Mark-Anthony Kaye went down with what looked like a hamstring injury before the 10th minute, he would come off for Liam Frasier as the teams settled into the match.
As it progressed, the US patiently worked possession to little effect and Canada almost stole a goal in the 16th minute when Jonathan David ran on the end of a bad pass as the US was building from the back. Zack Steffen charged from goal, but only a poorly taken shot from David kept the game at 0-0. The Americans responded with a chance of their own, but it only resulted in a corner.
With the half wearing on, the match seemed to settle into a familiar pattern with the Stars and Stripes trying to work possession while Canada did enough to disrupt the buildup and send long balls down the wing toward Alphonso Davies. That’s what everyone tried to do. In practice, it looked like a giant tub of maple syrup had been spread across the field and the ball would just periodically not move at all, or be bounced off of two opposing players sanding near each other.
To their credit, it was clear that Canada had taken a needed step in their development as the team CONCACAF’d to devastate the US build-up play. As the Americans searched for... anything, most of it came in the form of hopeful crosses from DeAndre Yedlin and Jordan Morris or Christian Pulisic trying to dribble in from the wing without much success. The first half ended at nil-nil, though both teams could go into the locker rooms knowing that a full stadium did not have to endure their performances.
Canada managed to make an adjustment it would seem as the team in red nearly scored to open the half, but David’s chance was sent just wide of the net in the 50th minute. The US answered with a ball that found Morris who drew three Canadian defenders to him to open space for Pulisic, but the Chelsea man sent his shot directly into the arms of Milan Borjan. As the hour mark approached, Canada continued being dangerous on the counter while the Americans didn’t offer much going forward. After a tough night, Pulisic was subbed off for Paul Arriola as Gregg Berhalter looked for a spark on the left side of the attack.
While the American wonderkid watched on, Alphonso Davies continued to show why he was so sought after by Bayern Munich. The forward tapped in a cross sent across the box beating Aaron Long to the ball giving Canada the lead.
It was the kind of goal that a team that is forcing a buildup allows. Rather than either clear his lines or make a good pass, Tim Ream gives up a costly turnover leading to the score. It was a thoroughly dispiriting, if not inevitable feeling, goal in a game that saw Canada put its game plan in effect while the US failed to adjust.
Up a goal, John Herdman went to the bench and brought in David Hoilett for Davies and Lucas Cavallini for Jonathan David to give the attack fresh legs. The score also gave his team more reason to sit deep while the US shuffled the ball around the 18 yard box but did little more than that. As time began dwindling, Berhalter again went to his bench in the 73rd minute to bring Gyasi Zardes for Cristian Roladan and DeAndre Yedlin departed for Nick Lima.
As throwing strikers on late in games when the team needs a goal is an American tradition, the USA didn’t do any better with Canada bunkering and the added benefit, whatever it is, of Zardes and Sargent being on the field at the same time. There was little the Americans could do to break the bunker and the disheartening performance was punctuated by an injury time goal from Cavallini. The game would end with the US falling to Canada 2-0 in a truly awful showing from the Stars and Stripes.