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USMNT exacts revenge on Canada in Nations League romp

ORLANDO — The U.S. Men’s National Team went looking for revenge, and came away with a healthy serving, along with a side of restored confidence in a victory that meant far more than the three points it secured.

Led by a rampant Jordan Morris, and displaying the tenacity it lacked in its October loss to Canada, the USMNT jumped all over their Northern neighbors on the way to a 4-1 victory at Exploria Stadium on Friday night.

The win sets up the Americans for a chance to win their Nations League group with a victory against Cuba on Tuesday in the Cayman Islands. A USMNT loss or draw against Cuba would put Canada through to the knockout rounds.

Gregg Berhalter deployed a surprising lineup, starting the likes of Gyasi Zardes, Jackson Yueill and Tim Ream over Josh Sargent, Alfredo Morales and DeAndre Yedlin, but the squad he turned to in a must-win match rewarded his faith almost instantly, with Morris scoring the opener in the second minute.

Sergino Dest marked his cap-tying appearance by helping set up the Morris opener, with a flick pass in the penalty area off a corner kick that Morris headed home.

The match played out like the exact opposite of the October meeting in Toronto, with the Americans playing the role of determined home team and Canada playing the part of nervous visitors.

Morris helped set up the second U.S. goal on a sequence showcasing the best soccer of the night from the Americans. Sergino Dest sent a header the defensive third toward Paul Arriola, who carried the ball up the right wing before unleashing a perfect long pass to Morris on the opposite flank. Morris touched it into space and sent a perfect low cross to the front of goal, where Zardes headed it home.\

The Americans added a third goal just 11 minutes later, once again thanks to some good work from Morris, who ran through the Canada defense before laying a pass off to Sebastian Lletget, who drew a foul, setting up a dangerous free kick for the Americans.

Ream cashed in with a perfectly whipped-in cross that Long rose up to head home to make the score 3-0.

Canada pulled one back when Steven Vitoria headed home from close range to make things interesting for the final 20 minutes, but Canada couldn’t find another goal to potentially put more pressure on the Americans in the goal difference category heading into Tuesday’s match against Cuba.

Instead, it was the Americans that created more of a cushion with a late goal courtesy of Zardes, who pounced on a loose ball and bounced a 12-yard shot past Milan Borjan in the 89th minute to make the final score 4-1.

Overall, it was the exact type of performance the Americans needed after their ugly showing in Toronto, and after consecutive losses to Mexico, in June and September, a stretch of results that had begun to put pressure on Behalter, who spent this week sounding determined to stick with the same tactical approach he has been trying to implement since being hired.

Ultimately, it wasn’t the USMNT’s style of play that carried the day on Friday, but rather the collective determination and tenacity the team displayed, as well as the outstanding performances of Morris and Zardes in attack, and the entire back four defensively.


  1. I will be a bit of the contrarian today. The US won because they were opportunistic and the Canadian coach played too conservatively. The fact is that Canada still plays better in possession than the US and the US still plays too slopp0y with a lot of turnovers, many unforced. Except for Davies, the US has better players, even without Pulisic and Adams, and with those two, man for man, only Mexico matches our individual talent. Why is it that Canada, with lesser quality players, presses better and can handle a press better than the US? This shouldn’t happen. This was a US type win that you would have seen 20 or more years ago, as if our players are no more skilled than a generation ago. As for specific players, we won despite some of Gerhalter’s selections, not because of them. Is Ream better than Yedlin? By his selection, Berhalter says yes. Ream did okay because Canada kept their wingers way back. Lletget was definitely our most creative player. He needs to play in every meaningful game until someone better shows up. I imagine the positive vibes for Zardes won’t last long, but as I’ve been saying for 3 or 4 years, he brings a lot to the table, not just scoring, that makes him valuable. McKennie has been a disappointment lately. He needs to step it up. We need to play better teams than found in CONCACAF to find out how good we are.

    • It was a weird and fascinating game. This press the usa uses is strange because it leaves a gap in the middle, and if the opponent finds that gap, then it’s back and tight for all the players. But the difference tonight from the previous match was back tackling. When Canada would split the press, the us midfielders tracked the ball by recovering and won it back many times. That’s positive. The Canada press is all about making you play wide, and then putting pressure on the outside back and midfielder We just had better passers out of the back tonight, and Dest consistently solved pressure with his dribbling, his speed, his passing.
      That’s the future of the outside back in soccer a player who is fast, technical and who has vision. Look at Liverpool’s outside backs. Amazing. Yedlin has some of those qualities, but Dest is more refined in them. All in all, things went in the US team’s favor, but can we play like this all the time, with so little possession? Not if the midfield doesn’t get better with the ball. Off the ball they did very well tonight, but in the buildup not so much. So it’s a long way from good, but its not terrible. Happy with some of the adjustments, and obviously with the result.

      • @dibo, thanks for the insightful share. and I hear where you’re coming from Gary and for me we have to rebuild the belief first, the team resolve, then that rising tide helps float all instead of ebb it. So more is possible from the pieces instead of less, more belief in midfield for example to create as dibo is talking about on the ball…not that it would magically appear but the chances rise. pounding Canada after losing for the first time in whatever is a chance to rebuild some belief, and was needed. Canada has done some catching up too but herdman likes to thug it out as a coach, lots of crazy fouls and terrible crap from his team in that regard, but still, they’ve closed while we did whatever for a while…….

  2. Someone mentioned the glory days when the team played with real heart. It was because they had to. We didn’t have the pool of players much less the talent. So good or bad they learned how to play together. This team has no continuity and it shows in the 1/3 possession. Unless GB can settle on a primary set of starters we are going to continue with the legacy of the JK experiment.

  3. Curious how many US “fans” were unhappy as Zardes scored what turn into the winning goal.

    You know who you are and you should be ashamed.

    • Not sure who you are calling out here, but I wouldn’t get too excited about a response. This place is typically deserted after a US win. SBI folks are much more excited about b*tching

      • “………I wouldn’t get too excited about a response. This place is typically deserted after a US win”

        haha ???, OMG that’s a classic. Wow

  4. Glad we got the W. I am confused why they had Brooks put down as a LB? Also Davies is crazy I would have played for Ghana if I was him. Ghana has way more talent then Canada and Davies offense would not be wasted playing as a defender. Canada is never going to a WC. USA should never loose to Canada we have to much talent. We now need to work on playing a system that can match Mexico and some of the top 15 national teams.

    • And Pulisic could’ve played for Croatia. Sometimes there’s more to identity than choosing the most recently successful national team.

      • Exactly. A lot of people do not comprehend this and thinks it’s a foregone conclusion that you should play for a team that happens to be better.

        This is why many people don’t have an issue with Giuseppe Rossi

      • Pulisic has no connection to Croatia except his grandfather is from there. Davies lived in Ghana and was born there nice job Yev the MLS Apologist and Gomer Pyle for comparing Apples to Oranges.

      • Gary, I don’t think it is accurate to say the US will never be better than the Netherlands. Now if you don’t say never, but put some time frame on it, I dunno 10-20 years, I might buy your statement.

    • By your logic, Dest should play for Holland and a number of German Americans should never have played for the US. As I have pointed out in the past, people here often short change their own country or, in this case, Canada. . Our two countries are much better places to live than a lot of other countries, in case you haven’t noticed. If you are going to represent a country, you should be willing to live there.

      • Holland is not that good of a national team in my opinion they cant win a WC. So no dont try to guess my logic. Also Dest never switched back and forth. Canada has no future potential in players and will not go to a WC thats my point they will never qualify for a WC.

      • Holland is not that good? The US has never been close to as good as Holland, which has played in the final of a WC at least 3 times. As for Canada, T&T, Jamaica, Panama, and Haiti are CONCACAF teams that have gone to the World Cup. I think this
        Canadian team has more talent than Panama and probably Honduras, which both finished ahead of the US in the last Hex.

      • Also, Ghana ain’t anything special. This isn’t 2010 anymore. They failed to qualify in 2018 and just got knocked out of the African nations championship by Burkina Faso.

      • @GPUSA was close in 1930 when we made 3rd place so yes USA has been close. who cares if it was almost 100 years ago. Also Gomer Pyle Ghana did not get knocked out 2021 cup on nations. You obviously dont know how the ACON work. They play qualifiers for two years and in 2021 is when the final tournament is. Also home field advantage can make a great team look awful. Look at how sometimes mid and lower EPL teams play at home and against a top three table team and win. Mancester City and Wolves for example.

  5. all this talk about the changed lineup or “attitude and effort”, as berhalter put it, is missing the point: berhalter set aside his fetish with patient possession and he let the team do what it does best, which is defend aggressively and strike in transition. add the fact that we should *always* be beating canada, and this is a routine win that is to be expected, not lauded.

    • this. Brooks was really struggling early too trying to do it, Guzan had a bad giveaway early trying to pass that could have been terrible. Good on GB to adapt, wasn’t sure he would go for it

  6. 1. Lletget was very good in the first half and made a huge difference. Several times his first touch or dribbling put Canada on the back foot or broke down their lines. He seemed to fade after the 60’ but great game.
    2. Someone mentioned that playing with Bradley is like playing a man down. I agree. (Although he was very good in MLS Cup). A huge difference today was Scott Arfield. He didn’t pick us apart. That is because he did not get unlimited time and space to feed David, Davies, and Hoilette. Yueil, McKennie > Bradley, Trapp at clamping down. Without him pulling strings, Canada is average except Davies. (Disclosure: former Vancouver STH here— he is something, but very left footed).

  7. Did we notice? Everybody except Ream and Morris was in their preferred/ natural position! 4-2-3-1- Zardes-9, Arriola-RW, Lleget was the 10, McKennie -8, Yueill-6, Brooks-LCB, Long- RCB, Dest- RB! Formation is the system. Every player who went out of position got covered by a teammate. That’s what we see, when players are in their best position. Hopefully, this puts the 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1, 4-1-4-1 back in the cave, where it belongs with the other Neanderthal thinkers. Since the semi, in the GC, GB has either used a 4-3-3, or a 4-2-3-1. Did we notice? Dest has an extra something in the final 1/3. He is an attacking player! A future winger! Watch his highlights! He wants to score, that’s not a fullbacks mentality. I like to see him closer to goal. Tell me, in the ‘88, Dest would’ve brought the ball down better than Yedlin! Lleget’s pass inside the 18, with the outside of his right foot was sick, only to be missed by our 9 & RW, in the 1st half. McKennie in his best role as an 8, was missing most of the match. 2 out of 3 matches, he puts in a performance like this. His overall sharpness is lacking against better CONCACAF countries. He’s not a CB, or 10, nor a 6, and IMO, not ready for the captain’s armband, yet. Against weaker competition, play him wherever! Adams makes a lot of players look good, including McKennie. Did we notice? Yueill is a pure 6! Faster than MB, better passer than Adams. Morales is an 8! Long is RCB, he plays on the left side next to Tim Parker. He has impressed me this year with his overall play. Nice to see a healthy Brooks. Brooks & Long looked very sharp. Yedlin 61 caps, 1 assist, no goals, why is he playing more than Cannon? No Bradley or Altidore?!!! I see you, and raise you a … No CP, no Adams, no Steffen, no problem! I’m glad I wore my Orlando City gear, lol. The US usually plays well in Otown! Even though, most have no faith in GB, that’s why 13,000 showed up! We have goal differential, let’s beat Cuba, win the group and advance, while stringing another performance on the back of this one.

      • It was a lot, Gomer! Thanks for taking your time to read it! I realized, years ago, SBI writers, as well as commenters are apart of a community, whether we disagree or not!

    • I actually got through that also. I think lol. Regardless, thanks for it.

      I’m anxious for a full fit starting roster at some point. It seems as though our boys are always lacking key features. Like a lineup comprising specifically Steffen, Adams, CP, Sargent, Brooks (I’d include Dest here also) amongst others and all having benefits of training for great cohesion for a change. It just seems like we’ve become a rag tag assemblage of “whomever’s around”.. Finally it’s time imho to bid adieu with thanks for the memories. to Bradley, Jozy, Ream and especially Guzan who’s a heartbreak for us away from every game he guards the pipes.

  8. I was not happy with the starting lineup, but they did play well. For all his faults, Arriola does bring that energy. Really liked Lletget tonight and Morris too. Zardes did well also, but his runs were inconsistent.

    It was still sloppy at times, but the fight was finally there. It needs to be there consistently going forward. That Will helpmake up for off nights. The Donovan interview said a lot, be difficult to play against.

  9. Very nice performance. Gotta say having Brooks back there is awesome. Pleasant surprise to see Arriola/Dest form something of an understanding on the right. Davies was his dangerous self, but we clowned him going the other way a couple of times to the tune of a goal or two

    • Arriola helped a ton on defense. In this game, I was able to see Dest limitation when defending. Davies is a beast. Fortunately for us, he was put too far back to give us much of a problem. When Davies was moved further up GB brought in Yedlin. Yedlin has the speed and size to match up better against Davies.

    • Yep early 2000’s USA team was good too. Mathis, Convey, Donovan, Reyna, Donovan, Mathis, Beasley, Boca, Pope, Mcbride, and O’Brian. Glad we got the W

  10. While I’m happy for the win, I’m still not a believer that this “Team” or Coach are making progress. The fact that Berhaulter had an extra 7-10 days to prep the team….time he will not have during normal International Breaks…minimizes the accomplishment. Even considering the fact our 2 best field players were not available for this game.

    Honestly believe that our best possible XI would be something along the following:
    —A. Robinson——–McKennie——————Adams————–Dest—

    Bench: Horvath, Long, CCV, Yedlin, Cannon, Morris, Jozy
    Fringe: Guzan, Johnson, EPB, M. Robinson, Yueill, Morales, Boyd, Ledezma, Parks, Sabbi, Mihailovic, Wright, Arriola

    As our young players mature and develop we can switch to a back 4, but right now a 3 back system helps provide a more stable foundation while still providing attacking width.
    We still need a back-up to our 3 best players (Pulisic, Adams, & McKennie), but there are options emerging….they’re just not ready just yet.
    Still wish there were more options at striker right now….but we may have enough to get us started while we continue to search.

    • Actually, unless MLS changes its schedule, we always have time to run a camp just like this prior to this November fixture window (ie historically the first fixtures of the Hex…. where we lost both times in the last cycle). Why not congratulate those involved on recognizing the opportunity that had never been utilized by their predecessors?

  11. Leave Bradley / Altidore at home and you have 11 players playing for each other, chasing, closing down opponents, playing selflessly and actually see some cohesiveness. We have enough players in our pool to put together a whole other team that can beat Canada, so i hope GB gets better with player selection.

    Night and day from the last game and the difference is our midfield and EVERYONE PUT IN THE EFFORT. Got to give credit to Zardes. (didn’t think he should start…..and he did well)

      • Gomer,
        True, you are 100% correct. He is not to blame but it’s just eliminating the narrative that he is the best US striker in the pool. He, like Bradley, brings own the overall cohesiveness of the group (as he doesn’t chase, cover defensively etc.) and you put anyone in that position long enough eventually they will score goals. We don’t have a STAR striker yet so we have to rely on ALL 11 PLAYERS playing for each other, chasing, closing down opponents and covering selflessly for each other. You cant do that with both Bradley / Altidore on the field.

        I called US spanking Canada for the mare fact of no Bradley and Altidore on the field. Eliminate those two and now we match Canada man-for-man on every play and they (and most in CONCACAF) cannot compete toe to toe. But playing with Bradley, Altidore, Trapp etc. is almost like playing a man down (like someone got sent off). You are right though, Altidore is not to blame directly but is more so not suppose to be a starter for the USMNT if we want to win.

  12. Credit where it’s due Zardes scored twice in an important game. All around everyone had a great game. Yueil looked very good and was making tackles and disrupting play and recovering possesion. The defense looked solid minus the free man on only canada goal. The next bench mark should be playing like today against better teams.

    • Congrats to three players I think shouldn’t have been in the starting 11. Tim Ream had I think the best game he’s had for the USMNT. Zardes two well taken goals AND Arriola very nice pass to switch play on the second goal. With this said GB still needs to do a better job of calling in the right players, there are too many call ups that I have no idea what they are supposed to bring.


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