The United States men’s national team had an embarrassing showing in Canada as their World Cup hopes were paused by a substandard 2-0 loss to Canada in frigid Hamilton, Ontario, on Sunday.
The temperatures weren’t quite as bad as thought when this match was scheduled for February in Ontario but not living up to the hype is something the American team is starting to deliver in a consistent fashion.
Canada’s goals came from Cyle Larin — off a comedy of errors starting with Matt Turner’s goal kick — and Sam Adekugbe, and the USMNT rarely looked like a group with ideas in the final third. The Canadians did not have their best player in Alphonso Davies.
The Yanks finished down a man thanks to Berhalter using all of his subs for who knows what reason, and now will host Honduras in a too-important World Cup qualifier with a question mark on one of its best players in Tyler Adams.
Canada moves onto 22 points with four matches left. The USMNT has 18 points and will be passed by Mexico if El Tri gets a win at home to Costa Rica later Sunday.
Berhalter’s United States hosts Honduras on Wednesday.
Canada vs USMNT final score, stats
Canada 2, USMNT 0
Scorers: Larin 7′, Adekugbe 90’+5
Shot attempts: Canada 8, USMNT 13
Shots on goal: Canada 4, USMNT 3
Possession: Canada 36, USMNT 64
Three things we learned from Canada vs USMNT
1. Berhalter outthinks himself at center forward (twice), Yanks look clueless in final third: Forget final third, let’s call it the space between the top of the 18 and bottom of the center circle. The USMNT had no clue what to do with the ball there, often looking like an oval without movement in the middle, and when Gyasi Zardes got the ball it was not ideal. The veteran center forward is a man best suited to be a super sub and was not put in a good spot, just like Jesus Ferreira against El Salvador, and did almost nothing to justify his coach’s odd choice.
Christian Pulisic is in the worst stretch of his USMNT career, and Berhalter may need to consider reining in his best player by taking away some of his responsibilities, in particular set pieces. Weston McKennie brought fire but was sloppy and his game degraded into trying to do too much. Sergino Dest did the same with less fire.
Tyler Adams delivered. Few others can make that claim.
2. Milan Borjan shines past bad defense: Canada’s weakness for this international break is undebatably their back line. John Herdmann started two out-of-season MLS players in Montreal’s Kamal Miller and Alistair Johnston, nomadic Sam Adekugbe (most recently in Turkey), and a 35-year-old center back in Steven Vitoria who is having the 58th-best season in Portugal amongst defenders (SofaScore).
3. Late subs, cold subs, and a whole lot of “too smart” stuff: Gregg Berhalter gave a halftime interview in which he said the team played very well, which seemed an inconceivable take, and subsequently showed he wasn’t bluffing for the microphones as he let the same bunch stew or marinate another 21 minutes. Out went an injured Tyler Adams (red alert), Gyasi Zardes, and Brenden Aaronson for Kellyn Acosta, Ricardo Pepi, and Jordan Morris. Ten minutes later, it was Paul Arriola and Reggie Cannon entering the fray. Sixty percent of those subs were MLS players out-of-season.
Pepi and Morris were bright and it would’ve been nice to see more of them in the game but let’s not make excuses for anyone or deal out too much credit to Canada. The Canadians were fine, and maybe we could say they were very good if we want to downgrade the expectations on this potentially Golden Generation of the USMNT. However, you could take it in a different direction and say that Berhalter looks totally prepared to waste a potential Golden Generation by trying to outthink the thinkers.
This USMNT feels like a team that could use what happened to Chelsea when Frank Lampard was fired and Thomas Tuchel was brought into the fold. Yes, that was a supreme upgrade in any world but just putting an adult in charge to put the best, experienced players on the field instead of trying to save a country flat-out did the trick.
It hasn’t been that long since Christian Pulisic begged for attacking third ideas from the national team. It has not responded and there are serious questions about how the Yanks could take apart CONCACAF, let alone make a run out of a World Cup group stage.
Man of the Match: Jonathan David
It’s tempting to give it to Borjan for his sensational save and stalwart presence between the sticks, but David’s 84 minutes were busy, busy, busy, with two key passes and the assist. He won 7-of-11 duels and drew two fouls.
Comedy of errors undoes solid USMNT start
Goal kicks like this are the reason people worry that excellent shot stopper Matt Turner doesn’t have a lot of hope of playing at Arsenal should his transfer go through, but it only gets worse from there when it comes to Canada’s opening goal.
The Yanks had all of the ball despite Canada’s energetic ball pressure, but Gyasi Zardes had to track back 10-15 yards to find Turner’s goal kick and the lapses in judgment and common sense.
Matt Turner's goal kick didn't even reach midfield.
About 15 yards short of Zardes.
Five seconds later, 1-0 pic.twitter.com/5pNP1Nchx5
— Henry Bushnell (@HenryBushnell) January 30, 2022
Milan Borjan is a monster of a man
He’s been Canada’s No. 1 for a while and Red Star Belgrade’s main man in Serbia (and the Champions League) for even longer. The 34-year-old has been Red Star’s athlete of the year.
And this save on Weston McKennie before halftime was A-plus stuff.
WESTON MCKENNIE OFF THE CROSSBAR. A HUGE SAVE FROM MILAN BORJAN. 🧤 pic.twitter.com/Y09wgnivZi
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) January 30, 2022
Turner bails himself out, then left for dead
The Yanks played out of the back and into trouble in the 70th minute, and Turner couldn’t hang onto Jonathan David’s rip but fortunately made amends for his error with a splayed save on Larin.
Unfortunately for Turner, the Yanks went down to 10 men thanks to using all of their subs and Canada scored again late to set themselves up for Qatar.