USA 0, Canada 0: A Look Back

USAvsCanada (ISIPhotos.com)

There were no goals, and few quality scoring chances, only question marks and some concern for the U.S. national team as it heads toward World Cup qualifying following Sunday's 0-0 draw against Canada.

Credit to the Canadians, they stayed organized and compact and never let the Americans get comfortable in the final third. The result was a game where the USA enjoyed an edge in possession, but mustered fewer truly dangerous chances than Canada did.

Here is my Fox Soccer column on Sunday's game, which talks about, among other things, Jurgen Klinsmann's decision to build such a busy schedule and then run most his starters through it in order to try and replicate the conditions of a tournament.

Does the draw mean the USA is in trouble heading into qualifying? Not really. But the result does raise some fresh questions about the state of the team as we sit a year away from the Hex, and two years away from the 2014 World Cup. The U.S. team is very much a work in progress, and the recently friendlies have only served to magnify that fact.

Here are some other quick thoughts looking back at Sunday's match:

Here are my Fox Soccer post-match grades for the USA in the Canada match. Having had a better chance to digest the results of the match, and watch some of the action over again I'd say I probably graded Edgar Castillo a bit too high and Michael Bradley a bit too low. I still think Castillo was better than many are giving him credit for being. Way too many are pointing to the turnover he committed on Canada's disallowed goal. The fact is Canada was whistled for a foul against Castillo before the goal play began, and the linesman raised his flag. American players can be seen halting play as that sequence went on, so to still discuss the disallowed goal as some sort of robbery against Canada just doesn't fly. You can argue whether the foul on Castillo was a legit call, but you can't argue that the flag was raised and players were aware of this fact and briefly stopped playing as Canada's players kept going. We will never know if Canada still scores a goal if the flag is never raised, and for that reason it doesn't make much sense to keep harping on about the disallowed goal.

Is Edgar Castillo as good as Fabian Johnson? Certainly not. Is he better than Eric Lichaj? I still don't think so even though Klinsmann seems to disagree. These things being said, I still think Castillo showed signs of why Klinsmann liked him, and I think he fared better than he's being given credit for. He did better than most (including myself) expected him to do as a late fill-in for Fabian Johnson.

Clarence Goodson was very good, but we need to consider a few things. First, Canada played a variation of a 4-3-3, with Dwayne DeRosario and Tousaint Ricketts deployed wide. This left Olivier Occean to battle with the USA centerbacks, a challenge Carlos Bocanega spent more time on. This left Goodson with the freedom to help defend, break up plays and distribute. He did all these things very well, but again, we must consider the role and the degree of difficult of that role before anyone starts calling Goodson a defensive juggernaut. What Goodson did show is poise and confidence, which at the moment is enough to keep him in the starting lineup.

As I stated in my Fox Soccer column, I think the team was tired, and I think Landon Donovan was clearly tired. Blame for that falls on Klinsmann for playing three friendlies in nine days AND playing many of his starters in all three matches. Nothing wrong with scheduling friendlies, but to have his starters play so many minutes in all of them definitely opens Klinsmann up for some criticism. The five days off before the Antigua & Barbuda match should help the USA recover and look better on Friday.

Lastly, I'm not sure why people are writing off the 4-4-2. Dempsey spent too much time dropping deep for Sunday's formation to really be called a 4-4-2. Look for Jozy Altidore and Herculez Gomez to start alongside each other in a 4-4-2 on Friday.


What did you think of the match? Who impressed you the most? Who concerns you the most with the way they looked on Sunday?

Share your thoughts below.

  • GW


    Any objective observer will tell you the US Ghana game was very close and could have gone either way. I thought we were unlucky to lose.

    You have three out of four upgrades and one wash. To me that means we win the Ghana game.
    I also think you have not mentioned that our depth is upgraded from the Ghana game.

    36% of our starters are now different.

    Given that there is about one and a half years to go and you do not want to peak too early, I see no reason to for you to start climbing up on a 10th floor window ledge.


  • PetedeLA

    I want to see this, too.

    Let’s see what the boy’s got. We could be sitting on the next Pirlo (no sarcasm).


  • GW

    The US has the skill to play the way JK wants.

    The players just don’t quite believe it yet.

    If you had been manager the US would have gone into a defensive shell against Brazil and we never would have known that the players could mount the kind of comeback they did mount.

    The US was unlucky not to tie that game.

    And who knows what would have happened if the very iffy penalty had not happened so early.

    You want to put the training wheels back on as soon as your kid crashes the bike. That way your kid will never learn.


  • DC Josh

    Not ready to jump from the 10th floor, but the window is open.

    The team we have now will not be the group we send to Brazil. I thought we would see more fresh faces in the team by now, in particularly in defense. These friendlies and qualifying games against very weak opponents like Antigua are perfect situations for our future players to gain experience.


  • Adi from Oregon

    Yes, this game was against the Swiss which Germany had beat for the last 50 years. They had the same problem as the US, their defenders were too slow and had insufficient talent.


  • beachbum

    Agree with what you are saying

    On fitness, never seen a more fit US team than Bradley’s WC team. hopefully we’ll see Klinsmann’s team display that level of fitness too. US teams have to own the fitness battle


  • Skinnyj

    yeah, we need a taller player, someone like Messi, he never wins any balls or distributes. I know he’s a striker- but he still has to win balls all game. That being said, one of the best players ive ever played with was on my college team and he played def mid and was a total stud- all 5 foot nothing of him. I really couldn’t disagree more with you, coach.


  • louis z

    How can you say he needs rest when he hasn’t seen the USA NATS jersey for over 8 months, and with Galaxy he frequently misses games because of fatigue. Let’s face it, his tank can’t hold as it used to.


  • Louis Z

    actually he took the team in the 2002 WC, specially in the Germany game. Has he looked that good since? probably not, he is very good and being in the right place at the right time. The problem with him is that he is not playing with the same intensity. At Everton I thought he was ok, very good at setting up people but back then he was no longer able to beat players off the drible.
    Last year when Galaxy won, it was with mostly the same players as they have today. what has changed? for one Becks doesn’t have the same drive, while LD is playing the same as last year which is so so.


  • louis z

    If you are right, I would have wanted to see Jones take on Marcelo, why both pick on little guys, just like in elementary school, you seldom see one big vs another big, always they go after the little guy.


  • Louis Z

    i was also expecting to see fresh faces for the Antigua game but after us crapping the bed in the Brazil and Canada game, I don’t think JK will chance it. he wants a “W” big time.


  • GW

    “I thought we would see more fresh faces in the team by now, in particularly in defense.”

    Well you did but Chandler bailed on us, Lichaj got hurt, Gonzo blew out his knee, Ream has been just okay, George John bombed at West Ham, Cameron has been underwhelming, Whitbread’s body is 28 going on 58, Zach Loyd has been just okay, Potts is not interested and is ineligible anyway, Henley is Welsh, Boss is with Traffic and may actually play a high level game someday, Seb Hines may not be eligible, and all the Under 23 guys were unimpressive failures.

    How is all this the fault of JK and his staff?

    At least he got Johnson in and Castillo and Parkhurst may yet work out. And maybe Morales will get a game somewhere, sometime. I think he should call in Jeff Parke.

    “These friendlies and qualifying games against very weak opponents like Antigua are perfect situations for our future players to gain experience.”

    Not really. It’s a fine line. JK CANNOT afford to draw with A & B.
    JK has to build a team and yet MUST get points. Our opponents are pretty weak on paper but I remember how the Under 23’s were supposed to go through their group like crap through a goose and we all know how that turned out.

    If we slaughter A & B and Guatemala and get full points from all the games can we start messing around. And maybe not even then.

    The LA Kings were an 8th seed, the Orioles were supposed to be 30 games out by this time, Barca and Bayern were supposed to handle Chelsea easily, do I really need to point out to you that beating “weaker” teams is never guaranteed in any sport and there are no easy games? Look back at the New Zealand vs. Italy game in the last World Cup.

    People quickly forget, if they ever knew, that WC qualifying for the USMNT has never been particularly easy and it’s harder now than it has ever been.


  • GW

    Because Neymar is the BIG money man, the star.

    Brazil can live without Marcelo.

    It’s like going after Messi or Gretzky to make a point, be nice or I’ll hurt you where it really hurts you.


  • GW


    I’m sorry but you are wrong. That 2002 team was arguably the best team we’ve ever sent to a World Cup.

    Landon and DMB were the 20 year old spark plugs but that team also had arguably our two best midfielders ever, Reyna ( who went on to be named to the World Cup Best XI, first and only time so far for an American) and JOB in great form, Friedel doing his human wall imitation, Tony Sanneh and McBride in great form, Josh Wolff and Clint Mathis giving maybe their best USMNT performances. If those guys were in that same form now they walk right onto today’s squad.

    “At Everton I thought he was ok, very good at setting up people but back then he was no longer able to beat players off the drible.”

    Donovan has never been very good at beating people off the dribble, not even in 2002. Taking one touch and blowing by people, something he can still do occasionally, is not the same thing as stopping with the ball, faking someone out of their shoes and then blowing past them, which he was never any good at. Donovan does not do that.

    Everton loves him because he is committed to defense, is not a prima donna there, will do anything and everything Moyes asks him to do and generally gave them a shot in the arm. Moyes himself said Donovan was NOT a goal scorer.

    “Last year when Galaxy won, it was with mostly the same players as they have today. what has changed?”

    They are all one year older, have won the MLS Cup and are out of the Champions League which was supposed to be the big prize this year. Their defense has collapsed without Gonzo and it seems like they have nothing to play for I would say, at least as far as they are concerned.


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