The U.S. Men’s National Team suffered its first loss to Canada since 1985 on Tuesday. A 2-0 defeat to the Canadians at BMO Field saw the team lack the energy that it showed against Cuba just four days prior, and saw its star attacker disappointed with the result.
Christian Pulisic started for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but only played 60 minutes before being replaced by Paul Arriola. Pulisic had a lackluster showing against Canada, being denied by Milan Borjan from point-blank range on his only shot on goal. He left the field with visibly upset after not looking ready to leave with the scoreline still 0-0 at the point.
“I still felt that I could help my team and I didn’t want to come out of the game,” Pulisic said postmatch. “It’s very disappointing, playing is the one thing we can control and we weren’t able to do that tonight. It should’ve meant just as much to us as it did to them, we needed that win badly. Even a point would’ve helped, but it just didn’t happen.”
“We knew that’s how they were going to come out tonight, we just didn’t match them. We didn’t have the same energy that they did. We just lacked a bit of energy tonight and urgency. They were winning every second ball, I had a chance that I should’ve scored but I didn’t. I guess it just wasn’t our day.”
After the high of last week’s 7-0 thrashing of Cuba in Washington, the USMNT were expected to get something from Tuesday’s match but instead played second fiddle to a resurgent Canada side. Alphonso Davies and Lucas Cavallini completed the historic win with second-half finishes, propelling the Canadians to nine points from their first three matches of Nations League.
Although Pulisic lacked the cutting edge that he provided so well in the Concacaf Gold Cup, replacing him was a head scratcher. Berhalter called on the likes of Arriola, Gyasi Zardes, and Nick Lima as second-half substitutions, but neither could help the USMNT draw level or avoid conceding a second goal. After the game, Berhalter said Pulisic was dealing with flu-like symptoms, a reason why the head coach decided to take him off.
“The decision to take Christian out of the game, he was struggling with flu-like symptoms, light fever for the last two days,” Berhalter said. “He wanted to continue. You can see the disappointment in his face, and we had to make that decision. We made the decision based on not sure how much he had left and we wanted to inject some energy into the team.”
Tuesday’s defeat was the fifth for the USMNT this year since Berhalter took over, and unlike the others, it comes at the end of the an international break. The team will be back in action on Nov. 15th in Orlando for the second of its matches against Canada, knowing anything but a win will condemn them to nothing higher than second place in Group A.
With the chances of winning its last two matches of the group stage still possible, Pulisic isn’t giving up on the fact of a comeback just yet.
“I mean we’re going to win and lose games,” Pulisic said. “It was a tough one tonight, but we’re still going to stick together and fight for good results. We’re not out of this Nations League yet.”