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USA and Canada ready to resume rivalry

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photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com

 

By FRANCO PANIZO

DETROIT, Mich. – It may not be United States-Mexico, but the U.S. men's national team's rivalry with Canada still holds significant value to the two teams. Both sides said as much on the eve of their first match in four years, a Gold Cup opener that will likely determine the winner of Group C and shape the rest of the tournament.

The United States and Canada will do battle (8 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel) at Ford Field tonight, marking the first time they have met since a controversial 2-1 United States victory in the semifinals of the Gold Cup in 2007.

Getting revenge for that game is not on the mind of the Canadian players, though, or at least they won't admit as much. 

"It's enough to finally just put it aside and move on. That's how it is in life," said Julian De Guzman. "There's some things you've just got to put aside and carry on and wish for another opportunity, and here it is: the opportunity for us to kind of prove to ourselves that we belong in the top with the best of CONCACAF. This will be a good test for us."

Canada is coming off some mixed results in recent months, but they have been enough to lift team spirit. Combine that with the fact that the game is being played near the border of USA and Canada, and the United States has a tricky opening game on tap.

Not that the Americans aren't already aware of that, especially not the veterans who are familiar with and have played against Canada before.

"They've got some guys in the midfield who can take the ball, some creative players," said Tim Howard after Monday's training session. "Physically they're built in a very similar mold to us. We can get up and down the field, and battle, fight, scrap, so that's made us successful and that's what's going to make it an interesting game." 

Perhaps just as intriguing will be how U.S. head coach Bob Bradley approaches the game on the heels of a 4-0 shellacking to Spain in a friendly last Saturday. Several positions are still up for grabs in terms of who will start, including at forward, in central midfield and at centerback.

What is known is that several regulars who began the game against Spain on the bench will return to the starting lineup. Landon Donovan is also set for a start after recovering from an illness that kept him out of the friendly in Foxborough, making the match against Canada even more enticing.

"I think it's a big deal not only to the team, but to the country," said Dwayne De Rosario. "This is always a healthy rivalry. In any sport, U.S. against Canada is always a little bit of an edge and it won't be any different (on Tuesday)."

The Americans have seen Canada's most recent friendly, a 2-2 draw with Ecuador, and they know the Canucks have quality in their attack. From De Rosario to Atiba Hutchinson, Canada boasts players capable of unlocking the U.S. defense, one that has posted just two cleansheets since last summer's World Cup.

"I'm very pleased to say we're at a good point right now," said De Rosario. "Obviously everything is yet to be seen. It's easier said than done, so we just have to put forth the work. So far we've been playing very well, getting some good results, getting some wins here and there and some draws and hopefully we can pull a big one out."

Containing that quality will be part of the challenge for captain Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo and the rest of the American defense if they want to remain undefeated in Gold Cup group play and if they want to avoid their first loss against Canada since 1985. But it's a challenge that they say they're up for.

"Some positive energy, some motivation," said Bocanegra of what the Americans have to bring into the game. "First game of any tournament is a big one for us. The biggest thing for us is to have the energy and get off on the right foot."

Opening the Gold Cup with a good result against its northern rival is expected of the Americans, but with an improving Canadian team playing so close to home that's not going to be easy.

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Do you see the United States defeating Canada? Who on Canada's team worries you? Where do you think the United States has an advantage/disadvantage?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. This is a great opportunity for Canada to get a result. The USMNT is near it’s nadir, with three time losers, injured, bench sitters and never will be.

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  2. I’m sorry but I don’t think people are being intelligent/realistic with their lineups in the back. Canada is not a “world class” team, but Ream is still young and needs more time before being considered as a legitimate starter for us. We also need to realize that more often than not, playing with Bornstein on the left is like playing 10 v 12. Boca is MUCH better on the left than in the center in my opinion, and considering he played one half against the best team in the world, I think people are being a little hard on Gooch.

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  3. I think you’re underestimating our talent pool. Most of our guys start in pretty decent European teams and have had lots of experience in Europe’s top leagues: Dolo, Boca, , Bradley, Jones, Howard, Landon (at Everton), Dempsey, Spector, Holden all have seen significant PT in top leagues. Add to the list Edu, Goodson, Bedoya, etc… and mostly our whole team is ladden with players from European first divisions. And there are many more.
    Dempsey and Landon would make the roster of a few top national teams in my book.
    Basically, the fact is the USMNT has never ever had so many players playing regularly in European first divisions as it does today. Our player pool is pretty decent in fact, definitely to be within the top 15-20.
    Add the fact that MLS’ level is improving vastly, and I don’t think we can any longer say that our talent pool is poor. Sure we’re not a top 10 team, but definitely a top 20.

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  4. The US match tonight will not be geoblocked for anyone within the continental United States 🙂

    Enjoy.

    You can confirm this on concacaf’s website if you would need closure. There is a live stream schedule downloadable as a PDF.

    The only matches live streamed in the United States are all of the USA matches, the QF, SM, and Finals.

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  5. I have to agree, and with no disrespect, that watching USA vs Canada is like watching the US play a slightly weaker version of itself.

    I think it will be a good game and a close one. From what I’ve seen, Canada has been playing pretty well recently so they seem in decent form, whereas the USA has been shaky and their defense has been dismal. With 2 wins in the past year, the confidence of the US is also pretty low. If Canada can pressure and score early… well as a US fan I won’t go there 😉

    In any case, I really do wish for our Northern neighbors to do well in general and make it back to the WC next time… but maybe they can start after tonight’s game ha.

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  6. I’m a Canadian and I would say the USA is a overwhelming favorite in this game. There’s always a possibility of an upset, and Canada has the attacking quality to finish chances if the USA makes mkstakes or doesn’t play to its potential.

    DaddyYanqui is correct, the USA dominated the 1st have of the 2007 game, but you have to admit that after being uutplayed and outclassed Canadian comeback attempt was gutsy/inspired. Both sides had some hard luck in that match (Donovon’s miss, Hutchison’s off/on-side goal, Hume’s push-off, and Bocanegra’s late two legger that flipped deGuzman). That was a great game and I hope we get more of the same tonight.

    USA vs Canada games are some of the best to watch in CONCACAF. The teams have similar playing styles and similar attitudes towards the integrity of the game (ie. minimal diving, faking and referee manipulation). Its nice to see two side’s just play hard with out all the theatrics.

    I agree that its not a heated rivalry and the results it has been one sided. But make no mistake that the chance to beat the US is a big deal for Canada – not because its heated rivalry but becasue the ‘little brother’ always dreams of beating the ‘big brother’. This is a big match in Canada, with lots of press coverage (Canadian media actually covers soccer).

    Canada’s goalkeeping and backine have regressed significantly since 2007 and deGuzman is a shadow of the player he was in 2007. So the USA probably has a greater quality/talent advantage this time around. For Canada the midfield is the strength, and they would need spark any upset.

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  7. One thing that your stats don’t take into account is the quality of the opposition. As recently as 2-3 years ago, our friendlies consisted mostly of CONCACAF minnows and other teams far from the top 30-50 in the world. That has changed leading up to last years world cup and since. I, personally think its great (barring the timing of the Spain match). Better competition leads to better results in the big tourneys – ’09 confed cup, ’10 world cup.

    Bradley is a quality manager who has punched above his weight class for his entire tenure. The truth is that the quality of our player pool is not at the level of the top 15-20 teams in the world. How many players do we have starting for a team in one of the four major leagues? How many for a champions league side? Answer: 1 or 2 and 0. Now compare that to the rest of the teams in the world top 25 or so. I love our guys and we are improving, but we are not there yet in terms of talent.

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  8. Yo I can’t believe my luck…my job has NEVER sent me to Detroit. Well, last week, they tell me I have to go for an all day shoot anytime this week, so they let me pick the day…SO I PICKED TONIGHT AND TOMORROW!! So yes, take heed working shmoes like me in America…sometime you CAN get over on your job, and use them to pay for you to get a free trip to go see USA take on those slimy Canucks. I’ll be rockin my Dempsey jersey while listenin to some Elzhi!! (every hiphop head should get that Elmatic, where he flips Illmatic. Seriously)

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  9. Yes BB is an enigma, his teams always seem to meet their objectives in competitions despite some questionable results overall. I’m mostly of your opinion: I generally like BB, though I think extending him was a mistake and we’re heading towards an Arena 2.0.
    I do disagree with you on the fact that the GC final is the minimum. I really believe we have no other objective than winning the GC. Anything less should, given the results of the US team since the WC, make the USSF reconsider its position on BB. We haven’t even started WCQ, no it’s not that big of a deal if we changed coaches at this point.

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  10. Also, did anyone else happen to notice Gooch (in the Spain game) running up into the box when it wasn’t even a corner ? Did I see that right ? Or maybe I’m taking crazy pills here.

    If I did see it right… what was up with that?

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  11. When I wrote Arena, I wasn’t suggesting him as a coach for the USMNT. I was using him as a classic example of how extending a national’s team coach tenure for successive WC cycles if not a good idea.

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  12. I also think we will see altidore, and I, unlike many others think he still deserves the start.

    I do agree with needing Boca at left back though. Here’s the lineup I’d like…

    ———Altidore———
    ———Dempsey———-
    –Bedoya——–Donovan—
    —-Bradley——Jones—-
    Boca–Gooch–Goodson–Dolo

    I honestly would rather have Ream playing than Gooch (who looks immobile as all get out), but it’s still too early for him in a game of this magnitude, and Gooch’s experience will count for something. I expect we’ll see Ream against Panama or Guadeloupe.

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  13. I have to agree with you mostly.
    BB is very infuriating at times by his I don’t really care about the results attitude.
    One thing he has going for him is he tends to meet his objectives when it matters: winning the Gold Cup when it mattered, 1st in CONCACAF qualif, Confederations Cup, World Cup.
    At times it just seems like impossible luck (confed cup scenario; Algeria game), though at the end of the day he brings the team where it needs to be.
    It’s really a mind baffling situation: we never really seem to win friendlies, we have these horrible games, but then the team pulls through somehow.

    This said, I DO think it was a blunder to extend him through the next WC, as second time around coaches rarely fare well (you need a new vision for each new cycle).

    So it’s hard to be totally anti BB because he’s pulled the team through in major tournaments, but at the same time it’s frustrating to see the US play poorly for the vast majority of its international games.

    The Gold Cup is the litmus test: win it or call it quits.

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  14. Univision might also be “geoblocked” depending on where scott is located.

    If that won’t work, try looking it up on rojadirecta.es

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  15. very interesting stats Mat

    but i think you have to judge Bob in competitions that matter – not so much the post world cup friendlies.

    Confed cup, world cup, concacaf (every other one at least)- results have been mixed in those compettions in recent years, but certianly in line withe realistic expectaitons for our talent level.

    I have generally supported BB but I am ready to agree with the premise that this Cup is a very important test, and if we dont show well (A minimum making the finals), we should make a change for the next cup cycle.

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  16. I agree. With Mexico, there is definitely a rivalry, since we’re both competing to be the best team in CONCACAF. With Canada… not so much.

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  17. “I think it’s been a long time since the U.S. has had so many questions about how they will come out tactically and who is going to take the pitch.”

    June 2009, Confederations Cup, following demoralizing defeats to Italy and Brazil. It was Armageddon time for Bob Bradley, our formation, US soccer, etc. (sound familiar?), and then some strange things happened. Soccer is a series of highs and lows…people are considerably depressed at the moment, just as they were in ’09. If you ask me, losing to Italy, Brazil, and Spain is not shameful ever, but people around here get so worked up.

    Have faith, people. Playing CONCACAF teams is the cure for what ails you.

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  18. I would like to see Altidore + Wondo up top, leaving Agudelo as an ‘impact’ sub.

    Altidore-Wondo
    Donovan-Bradley-Jones-Dempsey
    Boca-Goodson-Ream-Dolo
    Howard

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  19. That’s a typical pro-Bob excuse. How else can you judge a coach? Let him have a free ride until a tournament so he can go bust and we waste another generation of players?

    Fact is Bob was barely providing for us before the WC and since, the US family has been starved for wins. We need a new father to lead us to greener pastures.

    In no other respectable soccer country would a manager go that long without a win (or even a good 90 minute performance) and be let off so easily.

    Bob had one tournament where we fared well in – one which his tactics nearly cost us every game and when we needed an utter implosion by Egypt.

    As manager of the national team Bob has two duties: Tactics and choosing the team. His tactics are – screw up in the first half, put on the players everyone was begging to start in the second half, watch a drastic, last minute goal. And his choices for players are baffling – Rogers? Bornstein? It’s a slap in the face for game-going fans.

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  20. This. I see absolutely no rivalry with Canada. Hard to have a rivalry when they haven’t beat us in recent memory. It’s artificial since we are neighbors, nothing more.

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  21. I’d also say Bedoya is no where near starting. He has just started playing well for club, but his appearances for the national team (even Saturday’s) was less than inspirational.

    A proper striker up top, Dempsey and Donovan on the wings like it should be.

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  22. Dislike Edu in defense. Sorry, but you can’t just flop a guy around like that on the national level when he hasn’t played there for club and barely for country. On top of that, when he has played there his positioning has been more than suspect. And positioning is key as CB.

    Just because he’s faster than what we’ve got is no excuse to toss him there. Coupled with Bradley not playing him there for awhile and you can safely bet he’s start in midfield or on the bench.

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  23. I think it’s been a long time since the U.S. has had so many questions about how they will come out tactically and who is going to take the pitch. Hopefully, this tournament will help give us some direction that we can build on for our next WC run. I support Bob Bradley 100%, but I think his job has never been more difficult or more important than it is right now. We need an identity, something that we can build on over the next 3 years. It starts tonight. USA!!!

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  24. Also, I don’t expect us to win the games vs the likes of Argentina, Spain or Brazil. These are teams vastly superior to ours, and I understand that for those games it’s all about experience and getting the boys acclimated with top international play, which is fine.

    However, Poland, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, these are teams we should beat at home: all four games were played in the USA, we lost 1, drew 3, won 0. Sorry, but that IS a major issue for me.

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  25. Sorry, but how else can he be judged?
    At some point as coach of a National team, you need to be held accountable for its results, no?
    As I said, the Gold Cup should be his last strike: win it or leave.
    To his credit, BB has always managed to get results in all competitions he’s put the USMNT in (save Copa America fiasco), so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

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  26. I don’t think it’s fair to judge him using those stats, since nearly all (if not all) of those games we fielded a weaker/younger squad to test out players and give them some international experience.

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  27. yes, we will def see something along the lines of what you outlined. i just would like to see something like what i detailed rolled out. just outside the box thinking that will def never come to fruition

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  28. It’s time for the USA to start winning again.
    Since the start of the World Cup, June 12 of 2010, the USA has played 12 games, and won only 2 vs Algeria and South Africa, each by only 1-0.

    So in about a year’s worth (12 game), our record stands as:
    Wins – 2
    Draws- 6
    Defeats – 4
    Goals scored: 10
    Goals allowed: 16

    We’ve played 7 home games during that stretch, and won none of them (4 draws, 3 defeats).

    Now I’m not specifically anti BB. I was actually an advocate for him all the way through the World Cup. But I was also one to thing we needed someone new for the current cycle.
    Stats don’t lie. This time around BB and the USMNT are not getting the job done so far.

    This Gold Cup is his last strike in my mind: win it or we need to move forward with someone else. Keeping coaches for 2 WC cycles is to often a huge blunder (Arena anyone?).

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  29. I wouldn’t say it’s a rivalry for the same reason Columbus and Toronto can’t be a rivalry. The Canadians cannot find a way to win.

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  30. Interesting lineup. I would wager a healthy sum on some variation of Altidore, Wondo, or Agudelo starting in some order before we see Deuce on an island up top.

    Bedoya/Adu as a sub. Dempsey will play on the left. Altidore and Wondo up top is what I think we will see. Boca in place of Edu, and either Lichaj or Bornstein at LB.

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  31. I want our boys to come out firing on all cylinders tonight. No excuses. I want to see commitment and a high level of energy, if we keep that up over 90, no doubt we will get the result we need regardless of the lineup Bob goes with tonight.

    USA! USA! USA!

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  32. My lineup (4-2-3-1)

    ——-Dempsey——-

    Bedoya—Adu—Donovan

    —-Bradley–Jones—-

    Boca–Edu–Goodson–Dolo

    ——-Howard———-

    Intrigued? Disgusted?

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  33. Canucks can whine all they want about concacaf refs and conspiracies. But they forget the rest of that game. The USA was up 2-0 at the half and if Landon hadn’t whiffed on the ball with the goal open, it would have become a rout. Instead, Hume comes in and gets away with fouls that should have drawn a red. Canada was lucky to still be in a position to draw after playing horrible soccer for most of the game. Hope I am not proven to be overconfident, but I think a USA rout is as likely as or even more probable than a Canada win tonight.

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