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Analysis: Canada 0-0 USA

This game was a bit dead. With Clint Dempsey getting the start, the pre-game hype machine was ready for some fireworks, but Fabian Johnson’s very late withdrawal during warmups threw something of a wet blanket over proceedings, and the game never sparked to life.

The first half was dull, frankly. The U.S. had more of the possession, but did little with it, and only a friendly linesman kept Canada from opening the scoring. With Dempsey coming in, Klinsmann didn’t drop the obvious player, José Torres, and instead changed the formation to a 4-4-2. Maurice Edu made way and Dempsey played up front with Herculez Gomez. This meant that for the second straight game, Michael Bradley played at the base of the midfield, shielding the defense and starting the offense, but as against Brazil, the deep position limited his impact.

The second half was more of the same. Both teams had a few chances, but neither was able to exert much control. Jozy Altidore made an appearance after an hour. The U.S. continued to do little with their possession, so in the 73rd minute, Maurice Edu came on for Donovan, and Klinsmann switched the team to 4-3-3, at least until Chris Wondolowski came on in the 80th, but little changed.

In the end, the two best chances of the night came in stoppage time, as first Canada’s Simeon Jackson missed a sitter from inside three yards after a cross from Dwayne De Rosario, then barely a minute later Clarence Goodson powered a header in on goal from a free kick, but his attempt was saved with some style.

The keys
  • Edgar Castillo: Castillo came in to the side when Johnson dropped out, and was involved in the two most interesting incidents of the first half. For the first, he took a falling clearance from a US corner out of the air and unleashed a vicious, dipping volley from 40 yards. Only the keeper’s stretched fingertips pushed the ball onto the crossbar and out. For the second, Castillo had the ball deep in the U.S.’s left corner, under the close attentions of De Rosario and David Edgar. He was dispossessed, and Canada promptly scored from a very tight angle, but the goal was disallowed for a soft foul on Castillo. He was the liveliest U.S. player in the first half, but was also guilty of overplaying, and nearly cost the U.S. a goal. His second half was quieter, which was for the best.
  • 4-4-2: This should not be the U.S.’s starting formation. The fluidity and movement that were present in both the Scotland game and the second half against Brazil were totally absent against Canada. As I feared after the Scotland win, Dempsey’s return has given U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann some problems. Dempsey must play, but 4-4-2 does not work to the team’s strengths.
  • Fatigue: The U.S. team hasn’t had a day off since camp opened, training twice daily, and they looked tired, both physically and mentally. Especially late, the U.S. seemed content to take the 0-0 draw, perhaps looking ahead to the start of the meaningful games on Friday, when World Cup Qualifying begins.
The goals
  • Um, yeah, there weren’t any, though Canada may feel aggrieved they didn’t leave with at least one.
Final thoughts
  • Fabian Johnson’s injury was reported on the broadcast as a calf strain. Castillo played adequately in his stead, but the U.S. must hope that Johnson is able to return quickly.
  • Clarence Goodson looks to have won the starting job along side of Carlos Bocanegra in central defense. He’s not fast, but reads the game very well, and is excellent in the air.
  • Anthem Watch: Well, the anthem today gets a +1 for being sung by another laid-back dude, but a -1 for that dude being a Canadian. He sung both anthems, wearing a Canada jersey, which I think technically nullifies any possible American-ness in the performance. Luckily, the U.S. fans sang along loudly.

So, the U.S. finishes the first three games of this five-game stretch at 1-1-1. The points start counting on Friday, against Antigua & Barbuda. Look for Klinsmann to return to a 4-3-3, and get Michael Bradley further upfield. Let’s hope he gives the team a bit of recovery time before then, as well, so they get their legs back.


  1. James "4-3-3" Forever says:

    What pisses me off are all those dumb Americans who want to be overly critical after every game, especially when Mexico beat Brazil 2-0. International Soccer doesn’t exactly share the same timeframe as the NFL or MLB; it’s not like any team is a good draft or free agent signing away from greatness.
    International Football is measured in years, even generations. What Klinsmann wants for us is fantastic, but we will only see bits and pieces of it for years to come.
    Anyone who wants to banish a player after a game, or wants to put Klinsmann on the hot seat doesn’t understand the stakes involved.

    • Jeremy L. says:

      Agreed. I do hope that Klinsmann’s work is being noticed by US Soccer, because I think the team is making tangible strides in the way it plays. The proof is in the pudding, I suppose, and CONCACAF play isn’t a good indicator for World Cup play, but I think we’re improving, becoming more technical and interesting. But no team, especially in international play, plays well every game, and we have to accept that it’s a process.

    • I agree. Many of us though are just dying for some momentum so we tend to look to post game analysis for some glimmer of hope. Iwish that some commentators especially in main stream media would stick to MLB and NFL as they clearly have no idea about the game. Luckily we have PSP to bring us some informed opinion with a bit of a fans perspective.

      I do like what gomez brings to the game and agree bradley needs to be a bit higher upfield.

  2. James "4-3-3" Forever says:

    And as far as formation, I want to see a 4-3-3 as:
    Jones – Edu – Bradley
    Donovan – Altidore – Dempsey
    With Edu the destroyed and Bradley and Jones the ability to go forward.

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      They keep talking about how torres has been SOOO good that he’s undroppable. i’m a fan of his play, but he’s been pretty darn average of late.

      the formation shouldnt matter in tampa. if we cant put 6 or 7 past antigua and barbuda we have deeper issues.

      • James "4-3-3" Forever says:

        The weird thing is that in a way, Torres has what all we should hope all Americans will one day have: skill on the ball, vision, passing ability, comfortable with the ball at his feet.
        It’s just he doesn’t really have anything else.

      • Jeremy L. says:

        And it’s no knock on a player to simply say, “Clint Dempsey is better than you.” Sacrificing team play so one player (who isn’t Clint Dempsey or a handful of our actually “undroppable” players–and honestly, do we have any? Form should be king.) stays on the field is just not good tactics.

    • Jeremy L. says:

      I agree this is our best front six, though Gomez has impressed me. If Altidore can replicate his club form, then great, but I’d be comfortable swapping Herculez in.

  3. Jeremy L. says:

    One highlight I didn’t mention is how consistently good NBC Sports Network’s coverage has been. The whole broadcast team is worth listening to, and the production values have been excellent. I wish it didn’t require a cable subscription, or there was an official online stream, too.

    • I agree. I just hope it works out financially for them. In america cash is king and poor numbers will result in less money spent on quality commentators and production.

      • Bill Simmons says:

        WET Rocks!

      • Dan Walsh says:

        All right, pal. It’s one thing to sign in as Peter Nowak, Kyle Nakazawa, or Michael Nutter, as you’ve done in the past. But Bill Simmons? How could you? You’ve gone too far! You will now be punished as follows: wear the Manning face for a week, reenact at least six levels of losing in your personal life, and be forced to come up with a line that prompts me to say, “Yep, these are my readers.”

  4. DarthLos117 says:

    Mexico has the nasty.

    • and know how to pass and move off the ball: something the US lacked on Sunday. Too tired and overtrained?

    • James "4-3-3" Forever says:

      What I want to know is how someone like Gio can be such a mediocre club player yet make plays like that internationally.

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