Canada defeats the United States, cementing a power shift in football

HAMILTON, Canada — If it wasn’t already clear which North and Central American and Caribbean country had the best soccer team this World...

HAMILTON, Canada — If it wasn’t already clear which North and Central American and Caribbean country had the best soccer team this World Cup qualifying cycle, Canada provided another argument. resounding for his primacy on Sunday.

With a 2-0 win over the United States on a frosty afternoon, Canada, without their best player, extended their lead atop the eight-team qualifying group that will determine the region’s Cup berths. of the world this year. Now four points clear of their closest rivals with four games to go, Canada secured pole position for one of the region’s three automatic berths in Qatar in November.

And with their toughest trials behind them – Canada went home and away unbeaten against the region’s two traditional heavyweights, the United States (1-0-1) and Mexico (1-0 -1) – a generational feat fast approaching: if Canada qualifies, their trip to the World Cup will be the first for their men’s team since 1986.

Canada head coach John Herdman, who is from England, said Sunday’s events made him feel for the first time that he was living in “football country”. The team bus, for example, was greeted with cheering fans, confetti and smoke.

“That’s what we dreamed of,” he added later. “It’s absolutely what we dreamed of to excite people. And people who have always had to wear an Italian shirt or a Serbian shirt or a Greek shirt, they can put them down. That’s what we want them to do, put on their Canadian jersey and now be proud of us.

The loss, in front of a raucous crowd in Hamilton, was a blow for the United States, but not fatal. The Americans moved into a tie for second place with Mexico, which tied Costa Rica, 0-0, later on Sunday.

“The result hurts but not the performance,” said American coach Gregg Berhalter. He insisted he was not making excuses, but noted how a tight pitch and “very poor grass” made it harder for his side to create and process scoring chances. A few injuries in the game also plagued the Americans. Overall, Berhalter noted how the United States dominated possession but lacked precision at the other end of the court.

“When we talked about what we needed to do to win this game, we ticked almost all the boxes,” he said.

The last – and only previous – time Canada played in soccer’s showcase tournament, only one player from its current national team roster was alive: 39-year-old defenseman Atiba Hutchinson. from pros like Cyle Larin, who scored an opening goal early on Sunday, and Sam Adekugbe, who added the decisive final goal, Canada went from years as an afterthought to a powerhouse.

With the victory, Canada remained the only undefeated team in the last qualifying round in the region and earned its first win over the United States in World Cup qualifying in 42 years.

“Every time we’ve been to the United States they’ve got 50, 60,000 people yelling at us, and we’re sick of it not respecting us,” said Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan, adding that he doesn’t did not want his country to be “more humiliated”.

He later added, “But now when they come to us or we go there, they are scared. They are afraid of the last four or five matches; they were afraid against us.

Canada capitalized on a sloppy start from the United States to snatch an early goal after just seven minutes, and held out the rest of the game even after the Americans began to dominate play. In front of a crowd that braved the chill a wind of 18 degrees Fahrenheit at game time, Canada at times gave up its share of possession but little ground, matching the pressure from the Americans with aggressive, physical and sometimes pugnacious responses.

The first goal came amid a string of American errors. Canada won Matt Turner’s short overhead kick, then used a quick exchange of passes to turn a turnover into a goal. Larin, after a back-and-forth with Jonathan David, took a step past United States centre-back Miles Robinson, who slipped trying to follow, and fired a shot past a diving Turner. Canada have done all of this without Alphonso Davies, the Bayern Munich star who will miss games this window while recovering from a heart problem linked to Covid.

As the first half progressed, USA slowly gained control of the pace and the ball. But the same problem that marked his first qualifying missteps returned: he failed to convert his chances.

Berhalter relied on a rotation of players, particularly in forwards, as he tried to balance his players’ fitness and exploit clashes in World Cup qualifying. On Sunday, he started Gyasi Zardes ahead of Jesús Ferreira, the surprise starter in Thursday’s win over El Salvador, and Ricardo Pepi, the teenager whose form could be key to America’s World Cup hopes. Called up again by Berhalter on Sunday, Zardes seemed overwhelmed at times and was eventually substituted in the 67th minute. Pepi offered a spark, but by then Canada had bent down to wrap up their victory.

“Defensively,” Borjan said, “we played amazing.”

Zardes, however, wasn’t the only American who couldn’t find the back of the net. In the 36th minute, Christian Pulisic kicked a free kick just beyond the penalty area above the goal.

Weston McKennie had a head saved from the crossbar by Borjan just before halftime. And in the 85th minute, Paul Arriola – another late substitution as Berhalter chased a goal – sent a bicycle kick just wide of the net.

When Adekugbe split the defense on a counterattack in added time and netted the second goal, the Canadians on the pitch, on the bench and in the stands knew victory – and possibly a World Cup berth – was theirs. It may take another game or two, but for the players, and perhaps for some of their fans, it’s starting to look like the chance of a lifetime.

“We are the only undefeated team and we are proud of that,” said Canadian midfielder Jonathan Osorio. “It’s a big win, but it’s only three more points. We want to stay on top of this region.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Canada defeats the United States, cementing a power shift in football
Canada defeats the United States, cementing a power shift in football
Newsrust - US Top News
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