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USA and Canada ready to resume rivalry


photo by Howard C. Smith/



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.


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.


  1. But I agree with your assessment of our roster…I just don’t think most of the Concacaf competition is any better.

  2. In 2007 we won the GC with Steve Ralston, Pablo “Redcard” Mastroeni and Justin freaking Mapp on the roster.

    Anything less than a finals appearance would be an embarassment.

  3. USA needs to lower expectations. Third place would be an accomplishment for this side. Coach Bradley has nothing after his first 11. They have 3 time losers in Kljestan, Rogers, Lichaj, and Bornstein, bench sitters in Bradley, Altidore, Adu, and Spector, and rehabs in Gooch, Edu and Jones who are trying to find past form.

    With this group, at this time, third would be an accomplishment.

  4. No not low confidence. Just a very cautious look at a national team coach in his second cycle.
    I think BB was the right guy last time around, not so sure this time, seems to me like we’ve extracted all we could from him and now we need new momentum.
    Relative to the friendly results, though they are just friendlies, and I do understand they’re meaningful, they do, over the long run tend to give indications of a team’s current form and its potential for major tournaments. For instance, Italy struggled in friendlies all year before the World Cup and, surprise, were totally not up to par. Same for France. Examples are many.
    My point is, one friendly result, taken by itself out of context means nothing. But when you string friendly results over the span of a year then they start delivering some lessons of where a nation’s soccer stands.
    The fact we lost to Brazil and Spain, couldn’t beat Argentina is pretty meaningless since they’re out of our league really.
    The fact we can’t muster a win at home vs. Poland, Colombia, Paraguay, or Chile, is, when combined with the Brazil and Spain blowouts, relevant that US soccer has pretty much regressed since the WC high.
    It doesn’t mean we won’t turn it around, and the GC is a good opportunity for that. I personally believe we have an excellent player pool, the best the US has ever had, so I’m not too worried about that. My concern is does this group still believe BB, can they gel together under him again or is a change of leadership required.
    Sometimes it’s all it takes to reinvigorate a squad. Take France: from WC joke to dominating England and Brazil in friendlies and well on their way to qualifying for the Euro. All because they dumped Domenech, after the blunder to renew him for another cycle (though he led France to the WC final)

  5. “When the US has a deeper pool of talented players, a coach with more international experience and record than Bradley might be interested.”

    The US player pool is the deepest it has ever been. We’ve more players than ever playing in Europe in first divisions and performing well.
    MLS talent is getting better, as well. People need to stop using the talent pool excuse. If you compare player pools of the USA and Mexico, you could almost make a point ours is the deeper pool. Teams like South Korea aren’t as deep as us, but are a very good international squad. Bottom line: we’ve got the players now to be a top 20 side.

    You mention comparing to Spain, which is ludicrous. We’re obviously not comparable to the Euro and World champs which is probably one of the best team in soccer history.

    However, nobody will ever convince me our squad doesn’t have enough talent to be a second tier soccer power.

    And for the record, I actually supported BB last cycle despite calls for his demise. But you need change in coaching after each cycle or else you tend to stagnate.

    Finally you say:
    “None of the players who have played for the USMNT at forward in the last 5 years have been able to lead their league (maybe even not thier team) for more than a single season.”
    => I think Clint Dempsey & Charlie Davies would disagree.

    BOTTOM LINE: NO MORE EXCUSES, we’ve got the personnel to be a very strong squad. We’ve proved it at the COnfeds and the World Cup.
    All I’m saying is that so far, looking at the USMNT results since the WC, you’d need to be really diffusional to think we’ve improved. We seem to be stagnating a bit, which is why this GC is BB’s last chance: if we bust out, then we need change. If he succeeds, then it’s proof his strategy works. It’s cruel, but welcome to professional sports. It ain’t a charity.

  6. Mostly, since Brian McBride, the US has not had a forward who can score. (Dempsey and Donavon are not forwards.) Until we do, draws against solid teams will be the norm and some setbacks against lesser teams will happen, no matter who the coach is.

    None of the players who have played for the USMNT at forward in the last 5 years have been able to lead their league (maybe even not thier team) for more than a single season. (Neither have any of the players who were not selected if you count only first division professional leagues). Cunningham might have come the closest and while I respect him he was not the answer.

    When the US has a deeper pool of talented players, a coach with more international experience and record than Bradley might be interested. Right now, coaching up the US national team is a job of minimizing the deficiencies and getting the team to buy into the effort required for good team defending, and trying to do that in a way that lets your few talented players have some chances to combine and attack. It is more a juggling act. Compare that to Spain who could afford to leave Iniesta on the bench for a half, trot out Puyol for a cameo and use Torres for only a half (after all, he is presently maybe their 3rd or 4th best forward, the US should have one so good never mind a few).

    Look around, what coach who is even equal to Bradley would want the job?

  7. I would like to see this too, but I have a feeling that BB’s gonna move Boca inside (probably for Ream) and put Bornstein on the left since he has a huge hard on for him.

  8. No disrespect taken It could be close/upset, but I could just as easily see the USA putting in 4 or 5.

    The reality is that the Canada is years away from being competitive. The Canadian Soccer Association is a mess, domestic player development programs were basically non-existent until the Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal pro clubs set up academies in the last 5 years.

  9. Lol. I know people build this up as a rivalry because of both countries being neighbors, but, at least in soccer, there is no rivalry. It’s not even close to the USA/Canada rivalry in hockey. That’s a rivalry!

  10. I think it’s almost guaranteed we see the following lineup:

    Dolo, Gooch, Goodson, Boca
    Dempsey, Bradley, Jones, LD
    Jozy, Agudelo

    We could see Edu instead of Jones, but I’d bet on Jones to start. CB is interested, I generally feel BB will always start Gooch, but MAYBE he’ll put Ream in there. Or maybe Boca in the middle with Lichaj, or god forbid, Bornstein on the left. It’ll be interesting when they flash that starting lineup on screen.

  11. I couldn’t agree more about the integrity of the game. It’s going to be very refreshing to watch a game without all of that crap.

    8pm (EDT) cannot come fast enough!

  12. “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.”

    I think his main point are on games like the ones quoted above. Aside from maybe Paraguay, I feel like we should beat each of those teams at home every time. A draw isn’t a bad result, but to me, it shows the team is at a plateau. I like BB, but like others have said, he has to win the GC.

  13. I agree with everything that Mat says. Bob Bradley was good for one round. Nobody is good enough for two four year cycles. Plus we need new leadership with the US Soccer foundation. I reitierate if we don’t win the Gold cup Bob Bradley and Gulati should go immediatley. Whether Bob Bradley goes or stays we need to keep Michael Bradley. He has consistenly been one of our better players over the past two years.

    i like Jozey starting and Aguelo coming in late.

  14. I think you are over-estimating our talent pool. The top nations in the world have players littered through the top leagues and playing in the Champions League, we have a few, at best who can play at that level.
    That is my contention when people slam BB. What are your realistic expectations for this player pool and can BB meet those? In my opinion, I expect the US to at least reach the finals of every Gold Cup and to at least reach the Round of 16 in every World Cup, after that in the WC, its all gravy. To me he can meet those expectations and has done that. We are a good team, nothing more and nothing less.
    That being said, even though I think BB is a good coach and gets an massive amount of unfair criticism in my opinion, he does make mistakes and I feel it was a mistake to hire him for a second cycle, for the same reasons described above. But as long as he doesn’t hold on to aging veterans too long and not transitioning to youth in a wise manner, which is the major mistake of two-cycle managers, he should avoid those types of mistakes.

  15. Mat I agree with a lot of what you say and you make good points but that their confidence is low I just don’t get. Why? How? Because they lost to Spain fielding inexperienced players? Because they only won 2 friendlies in the past year using experimental squads and tactics, etc.? The purpose for friendlies is to see who can do what for the team and winning is just icing on the cake. Winning is great but for BB, it is not the main objective. You can’t just put your A team out in every friendly. The same lineup tonight will not be the same line up we saw 3 days ago. That Spain game is already forgotten. The vets and coaching staff aren’t going to let past friendlies get them down.

    With respect to BB,we just do not know what the U.S.federation has in mind or what their priorities are right now. They are very difficult to understand. I like BB but we should have made a fresh change. 8 years is a long time. I do not think the federation takes into account the friendlies within the last year and maybe not even the Gold Cup. We just do not know with these guys.


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