The USMNT and Canada set out to play in what has the makings of a great rivalry. With cold weather, possible snow, artificial turf, it’s clear that the teams were set to play what is distinctly soccer and distinctly not football. The stage was set for this to be a pure test of grit, athleticism, and preserving over skill and technical ability - whichever team did sports the best would win. Indeed, it may very well be the first international soccer rivalry in history.
The USA put together a lineup that featured three changes from the first match of the window. Miles Robinson got the start at center back, Brenden Aaronson replaced the not vaccinated enough for Canada Tim Weah, and since no American strikers can score on purpose, one who scores on accident got the nod with Gyasi Zardes up top. The Zardes move might have turned some heads, but he’s got better movement than Ricardo Pepi and knows how to play in what French Canadians would call a spectacle de merde than just about any other player on the roster. In fact, if anything it’s somewhat surprising that Berhalter didn’t go with a lineup that had more players accustomed to playing bad soccer really well given the conditions and field dimensions.
Here come the Americans.— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) January 30, 2022
Canada started a bunch of guys that love plaid and maple syrup.
In the end, the team with more MLS players starting won 2-0. Canada capitalized on an early mistake from the Americans, used an effective press to hold off the American attack, and got some timely goalkeeping to boot. For the USMNT, it was a rough game. The first 45 saw the visitors nearly completely unable to get any chances going forward and the second half was not much more productive. A second goal came in injury time for Canada and the match would end at 2-0.
Gifs of soccer and jokes I stole from a movie that came out in 1994*... and maybe one from 1983
It wouldn’t take long for soccer to happen, a goal kick from Matt Turner that Canada won and quickly played forward found its way to Cyle Larin. Chris Richards lost his footing and couldn’t close him down before the striker scored and watched the entire country of Canada pledge allegiance to the maple leaf.
This was an ideal situation for Canada, with the lead they could turn the game into a real poutine disaster, and just kick Christian Pulisic - they were clearly not there for futbol, their goalkeeper wears sweatpants.
In a twist of irony, Canada was able to do what the USMNT did against Mexico for years - somehow get a goal, and then run fast and do teamwork to make up for their comparative lack of skill.
The ref had let a fair amount go, but did produce a yellow card when Vitoria kicked Pulisic’s legs from under him when a nice counter was developing for the USA in the 31st minute. The US really struggled to create much in the half, Canada wasn’t even just sitting in a low block, the home team pressed the Americans and forced them to play out of the back. When the away team got the ball into the final third, a delivery to a forward in the box was missing and Canada would no longer be in danger.
The best chance of the half came in the 43rd minute when a corner found Weston McKennie. His header went on target, but Milan Borjan made a nice save to keep the lead as once again, Canadians are always dreaming up a lotta ways to ruin our lives. The metric system, for the love of God! Celsius! Neil Young!*
The half would end at 1-0 and Gregg Berhalter would have to once again hope to conjure up some magic in the second half after a listless 45 minutes.
It’s not entirely clear that there was an adjustment, but the USA did seem to come out with more urgency and intensity. For example, Sergino Dest tried to start a fight with Tajon Buchanan and Weston McKennie was intent on trying to score a hat trick on one shot it seemed like. His effort paid off at the hour mark when the midfielder worked a pass to Aaronson at the top of the box. The forward’s shot forced a save but was not good enough for an equalizer.
In the 68th minute Gregg Berhalter decided to match MLS with MLS as Kellyn Acosta, Jordan Morris, and Ricardo Pepi came in for Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson, and Gyasi Zardes. Adams had gone down before his substitution and seemed to be nursing the back of his leg, but it didn’t seem too concerning.
Just after the subs, Canada pounced on a poor USA effort at playing out of the back, Jonathan David forced Matt Turner into a save and Larin got a shot off on the rebound that the keeper also managed to keep out of goal.
The game got more MLSy as Paul Arriola came on for Yunus Musah and Reggie Cannon entered for Dest in the 76th.
As the clock wound ever closer to 90 minutes, the USA was a bit more convincing... well, it was different. Pepi was an improvement over Zardes and provided more of an option to pass to. Jordan Morris also offered a bit more in terms of at least attempting to deliver the ball into the box, but these were marginal improvements on an overall subpar performance for the team.
Arriola very nearly scored a spectacular equalizer in the 87th minute but just missed the far post with a bicycle kick. That would be the best chance the Americans would get late. The team franticly tried to produce something, but nothing materialized. Adding insult to injury, Sam Adekugbe scored on a counter in the last minute of stoppage time to put any doubt about final result to rest.
SAM ADEKUGBE SCORES HIS FIRST GOAL FOR CANADA. pic.twitter.com/AyCWcvrqox— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) January 30, 2022
Pure, Grade A light amber maple syrup.