HAMILTON, Canada – If it’s still unclear which country in North and Central America and the Caribbean has the best team in this World Cup qualifier, Canada made another resounding argument for its lead in Sunday.
With a 2-0 win over the United States on a chilly afternoon, Canada extended the lead of the group of eight qualifying teams that will determine the region’s landing spot at this year’s World Cup in Qatar. Currently four points ahead of nearest rival with four games remaining, Canada has positioned itself in the all-important position for one of three regional automatic slots in Qatar in November.
And with the toughest tests behind it – Canada is unbeaten at home and away against two traditional regional heavyweights, the United States (1-0-1) and Mexico ( 1-0-1) – a generational achievement may just be around the corner: If Canada makes it through qualifying, their World Cup trip will be their men’s team’s first since 1986.
The defeat to a raving mob in Hamilton was a blow to the United States, but hardly fatal. The Americans temporarily remain in second place in the table, just ahead of Mexico, who face Costa Rica the following Sunday.
The last – and only previous – time Canada played in football’s introductory tournament, only one player on their current national team roster was alive: defender Atiba Hutchinson, 39. pundits like Cyle Larin, who scored an early opener on Sunday, and Sam Adekugbe, who added a late iron hand, Canada has risen from its years as an afterthought into the present as a great power. .
With its win, Canada remains the only team unbeaten in the final round of regional qualifying, and has its first win over the United States in a World Cup qualifier in 42 years.
Canada took advantage of a sloppy start by the United States to score an early goal after just seven minutes, and held on for the rest of the game even as the Americans began to dominate. In front of a crowd that defied the cold of 18-degree winds at the time of the game, Canada sometimes gave up its possession but little land, matching American pressure with aggressive, physical and emotional responses. tenacious sometimes.
The opening goal came in the context of the United States making a series of mistakes. Canada won Matt Turner’s short corner in the air, then used a quick spin to convert an opportunity into a goal. Larin, after giving and going with Jonathan David, took a step above US center-back Miles Robinson, who slipped trying to keep up and hit a shot past a diving Turner.
As the first half passed, the United States gradually controlled the tempo and ball more. But the same problem that marked their earlier qualifying mistakes came back: They were unable to convert their chances.
USA coach Gregg Berhalter has relied on rotation of players, especially in the forward position, as he has pursued both balance and goals in World Cup qualifying. On Sunday, he started Gyasi Zardes as a forward over Jesús Ferreira, who made a surprise start to Thursday’s win over El Salvador, and Ricardo Pepi, the teenager whose form could be key to the win. America’s World Cup hopes. Called back by Berhalter on Sunday, Zardes looked stellar at times, and was eventually substituted after 67 minutes. Pepi provided a spark, but then Canada bent to close out their victory.
However, Zardes isn’t the only American who hasn’t been able to convert his chances. After 36 minutes, Christian Pulisic’s free kick from just outside the box missed the target.
When Adekugbe split the defense in an injury-time counter-attack and scored the second, the Canadians on the pitch, on the bench and in the stands all knew victory – and perhaps a spot. World Cup – theirs. It may take another game or two, but for the players, and perhaps for some of their fans, it’s starting to feel like the opportunity of a lifetime.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/30/sports/soccer/canada-usmnt-world-cup.html Canada defeats the US, consolidates the change of football power