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Late Jozy Altidore winner leads USMNT past Canada

Photo by Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports

Carson, Calif. – After opening the 2016 campaign with a late win over Iceland, the U.S. Men’s National Team repeated the feat Saturday against Canada.

Relegated to the bench after starting last time out, Ethan Finlay did not take long to have an impact on Saturday night.  Subbed on in the 87th minute, the Columbus Crew winger corralled a long ball on the left flank from Michael Bradley, and with his second touch, rifled a cross onto the head of Jozy Altidore. The forward leapt at the six-yard line and headed the ball neatly into the corner to give the U.S. a deserved 1-0 win against a lackluster Canadian side that showed little desire to press the attack.

Keeping a spine of veteran players – Jozy Altidore up top, Mix Diskerud and Michael Bradley in the middle, and Matt Besler and Jermaine Jones paired as center backs – Klinsmann sent out waves of young talent on the edges of his 4-4-2 formation and allowed them to run free.

It made for a spotty affair, with the U.S. on the front foot for almost all of the night, outshooting Canada 18-4 but just as frequently fumbling the ball away in the final third.

Altidore had one of his more active nights of late, manufacturing five shots of his own while working to keep his younger teammates involved in the attack.  His hard work paid off when he sealed the victory in the final minute, earning Man of the Match honors.

The Toronto FC forward came close to netting a few minutes before the eventual winner, when he pulled down a long ball at the edge of the area and attempted to chip Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau, who was caught well off his line.  The lob had a bit too much air under it, however, and Crepeau was able to race back and bat the ball out of play just a yard shy of the goal mouth.

While Altidore grabbed the headline with his late tally, several USMNT prospects shined on the night. Jordan Morris was active in the attack, and tenacious in his high pressure of the Canadian back line. Lee Nguyen  showed well too, controlling the attack and generating multiple chances for the US with smart passing. David Bingham, meanwhile, earned his first start in goal for the senior team, and while he had little to trouble him on the evening.

As the game wore on, Canada backed further behind the ball, spending large chunks of the second half with only a lone striker, Orlando City’s Cyle Larin, in a forward position.

This gave the US considerable possession in the Canada half of the field, but multiple promising forays were undone by poor touches in the final third by the gaggle of youngsters Klinsmann had on the pitch. Gyasi Zardes started and played well at times, in particular when he sent in a quick through ball onto the foot of Altidore that created the USMNT’s first shot of the night, but also saw several opportunities evaporate when he couldn’t hang onto the ball.

Overall, however, Klinsmann and his squad left the pitch all smiles, happy that they could nab a result at the end of a long month in California.  The USMNT will reconvene in the spring when they resume CONCACAF world cup qualifying against Guatemala on March 25th.


  1. surprised at the amount of criticism for mix in these comments. i thought he played well, and most importantly, that he was a good complement to bradley, who is going to be around for a long while.

    the type of game that canada played (please can we not play them again), you shouldn’t expect lots of penetrating balls (heh) from the midfield; it’s more about keeping possession in the opposition half, moving it out to the wings (which we didn’t do often enough), and beating them in the box.

  2. It’s true that Mix did not do a huge amount offensively in this particular game but unlike many USMNT players who have the touch of a bricklayer and have trouble receiving a pass, his touch receiving and passing are pretty darn good.

    Also, he has been labelled as an “attacking” player which he is, but if you choose to watch that game again (fanatics only) you’ll see how many of Canada’s plays he disrupted with those long legs. I’ve noticed he wins a lot of balls in situations where most players would be beaten on the dribble. I think his defense is underated. I love Stuart Holden but I think he was hard on Mix (yes, I know Stuart Holden knows a lot more than I do about soccer). Just my 2 cents.

  3. What I saw was more zardes terrible touch and killing chances, and not sure why people are talking bad about mix he had a good game. Thought Acosta and Vincent looked like decent left back options

  4. This was a scrimmage game not a “true friendly” I’m sure the coaches knew of the snooze fest error filled this game was going to be. Jozy isn’t finally not Aduing it and finally is taking it serious. Mix is done for a while. Bingham thanks but no thanks. I noticed a lot of people saying that Morris was in the wrong places but what I noticed is that he looked for the open space and relieved the wrong pass. Overall I wasn’t concern win or loss, I was looking forward to see who is usmnt caliber and we got that. Adios mix

      • Nagbe brings handfuls more to the table and does what Mix does with it. I don’t think Mix is a good player but he has shown a role on the USMNT that he can’t at club, however, he isn’t even the best player at that specific role.

      • Mouf,

        with everybody healthy and available, mix doesn’t start. but i thought he played well enough to be an option, and maybe show that his club form is simply a product of playing at his club.

  5. The announcers were very kind to Morris. It is true he ran around a lot, but too often it was into the wrong spaces and when he got the ball, his touch let him down time and time again. It seemed to me like he was trying to do much more than he could accomplish technically, so I thought, “I can see what he was trying to do, but it did not work”. Still he is fast, but so are Nagbe, Finlay, Keiswetter, Zardes… At least t
    hree of those guys looked more dangerous.
    Mix had yet another game he would like to forget. It is not so much that he did anything particularly bad, just that he never did much productive.
    Bradley was the player the others looked to to get them out of tight spots and he was there time and time again. I did think that he could have made some better attacking passes, but with Canada clogging the middle, only the wings were reliably available for long balls that would be better than 50-50 balls. Still, he had so much time, I expected a bit better from him in the form of switching the point of attack more quickly.
    Finlay was smart to not cut in from the left and run into traffic, instead, used the space available out wide. Cutting inside repeatedly was something that hampered Nguyen’s and Nagbe’ effectiveness. (Though that shot by Nagbe was a real rocket.) In general the US attack would be better served by using the space the other team gives them rather than repeatedly dribbling or passing into clogged space.
    Jones spent a lot of time playing in midfield (so did the fullbacks). That is something they could get away with vs Canada, but a better team would have found a way to exploit the US having a single defender in the back for long stretches.

    • Regarding your comment about Bradley, after a while I felt that the US players looked to him too much. There were times when they could have pressed the attack more but would pass it back to Bradley and let him decide where to push the play. Maybe that comes from having a lot of internationally inexperienced players on the pitch, but I think sometimes players needed to take more individual initiative

    • re: morris

      i thought he was trying to play a different game than he usually does. he seemed to be playing a hold-up role for much of the game, with jozy dropping back and making runs from behind him (until canada really packed it in). it didn’t really work for him, but i don’t think he was too bad in a role that he hasn’t played at the international level.

  6. We’ve seen enough of Jones anywhere on the field but especially at CB. I have no idea why Mix and MB were played together yet again. Did we really need to use this friendly to establish that partnership doesn’t work?

    Altidore, Morris, Birnbaum had good games I thought. Otherwise, not a particularly encouraging camp. Against low level opposition they didn’t look too great.

  7. Players came to camp fit, we are passing the ball around well, creating opportunities without:
    Fabian Johnson
    Geoff Cameron
    Clint Dempsey
    Danny Willians
    Bobby Wood
    Aron Johannsson
    Omar Gonzalez
    John Brooks
    Christian Pulisic
    Matt Miazga

    very encouraging

  8. For the most part the camp accomplished what it’s suppose to have accomplished. It gave the coaches a chance to look at a bunch of new faces while giving them a coordinated conditioning camp before their club preseasons started.
    Winners: Nguyen, Nagbe, Morris, Kiesewetter, Jozy, Acosta, Birnbaum, Vincent
    Losers: Jones, S. Johnson, Evans, Orozco

  9. Jones has no business on the back line and Mix was trash, Bradley had a so-so game (prolly cause he was trying to do his job and Mix’s).
    Would of loved to see…


    Josie, Keisweiter,Zardes

    • Yeah, I’m done with Jones. Time for the next generation to come through. I liked what I saw from Tchani, Wil Trapp is making his way into the picture, and maybe some day Kitchen will get his chance. Then there’s McCarty who should be in there as well. It’s time.

      • Don’t forget about Danny Williams. Although not in camp, I really think he is next in line for the defensive mid position. He has been excellent for Reading. He didn’t have the best game last time out for the US, but I think once he settles in, he will lock that spot down.

      • wychijeff,

        +1, williams *has* been excellent. kind of surprised that a bigger team hasn’t gone after him yet.

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