As far as dream starts go, a goal 20 seconds into a tournament match against a neighboring rival is a pretty good one, and on Sunday it was just enough to help the U.S. men’s national team hold off a tough Canada to finish Concacaf Gold Cup group play with a perfect 3-0 record.
Shaq Moore’s goal 20 seconds into the match wound up being the difference as the Americans earned a 1-0 win over Canada to secure first place in Group B.
Sebastian Lletget received an excellent pass from Kellyn Acosta on the left flank and quickly squared a pass to the back-post to a streaking Moore, who finished the chance to kick off celebrations at sold-out Children’s Mercy Park.
The early goal looked it might propel the USMNT to a lopsided victory, but Canada eventually shook off that early goal and actually took control of the match after the first 30 minutes.
The Americans were never able to find the game after that promising start, managing just three total shots all match, and never recording another shot on goal after Moore’s goal.
In fact, it was the Americans who had to endure a difficult second half as Canada piled on the pressure and tested Matt Turner, who made three saves to keep the shutout. Walker Zimmerman’s exit from the match with a knee injury in the 15th minute didn’t cause problems for the Americans in the first half, but Donovan Pines struggled badly in the second half and the Canadians looked like they would break through and find an equalizer as they outshot the Americans 14-6.
The Canada goal never came though, with Miles Robinson, James Sands and Sam Vines delivering strong performances to maintain the shutout.
The Canadians had a claim for a penalty on the play Zimmerman’s injury came on, when he brought down Canada defender Richie Laryea in the penalty area. Replays showed Laryea foul Zimmerman prior to Zimmerman’s foul, and match officials ultimately ruled there was no penalty foul.
The USMNT finished in first place in Group B, and will now play its quarterfinal match on July 25 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas against the runner-up in Group C, which will be the loser of Tuesday’s Group C finale between Costa Rica and Jamaica. A draw would pit the Americans against Jamaica.
Canada will face the winner of Group C between Costa Rica and Jamaica.