USMNT exacts revenge on Canada in Nations League romp

USMNT exacts revenge on Canada in Nations League romp

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USMNT exacts revenge on Canada in Nations League romp

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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