The United States men’s national team (USMNT) suffered another disheartening setback on Tuesday losing to Canada 2-0 in CONCACAF Nations League play.
The loss marked the first time in 34 years that the USMNT had lost a match to Canada, a streak that lasted 17 matches dating back to 1985 – a time before the United States began to grow into a regional soccer power.
Davies, Cavallini Give Canada Historic Win
Alphonso Davies scored the first goal for Canada 63 minutes into the game, with Lucas Cavallini adding a capper in extra time to give the hosts a two-goal margin of victory.
There were virtually no bright spots in a thoroughly disappointing performance from the United States. Christian Pulisic, who has struggled to find playing time at Chelsea, played for an hour before being pulled by US manager Gregg Berhalter. After the game, Berhalter would explain that Pulisic had been struggling with flu-like symptoms, though the young star wanted to stay in the game.
“You could see the disappointment in his face, and we had to make that decision,” Berhalter said. “We made the decision based on being not sure how much he had left. We wanted to inject some energy into the team.”
The loss comes on the heels of an unimpressive but reasonably successful run at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July, where the USMNT made it to the final before losing to Mexico.
USMNT Look Sluggish in Loss
But while that result may have been acceptable, it was hardly inspiring. A loss to Canada – a team that hadn’t even scored in its last four matches against the USMNT – could have the brass at US Soccer reaching for the panic button as qualifying for the 2022 World Cup approaches.
There was one consistent through line when it came to the comments made by USA players and coaches after the game: the fact that they didn’t play like they wanted the win nearly as badly as their Canadian counterparts.
“They treated it like it was a cup final,” midfielder Michael Bradley told reporters. “They stepped up harder, they reacted quicker to every loose ball. In all the little ways in a game like that, they were on top of things. We’re disappointed with ourselves that we couldn’t do more in terms of better reactions, stepping up harder, coming away with little plays in different parts of the field that make a bigger difference.”
The USMNT is in no real danger of dropping out of League A of the CONCACAF Nations League, though they may not reach the semifinals of the 2019-20 competition. The USA’s next match is a Nov. 15 rematch at home against Canada, followed by an away match vs. Cuba (to be played in the Cayman Islands) on Nov. 19. The United States beat Cuba 7-0 in their first meeting last Friday. The USA would have to win both games and beat Canada on goal differential to progress to the semifinal round.