Would the rainy field at the Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida be the site where the U.S. men’s National Team was drowned in the CONCACAF Nations League?
No one knew the stakes more than the American players, who came out aggressive from the opening, and no one more so than 19-year-old Sergino Dest, making his third appearance . Off a corner, Dest sent a hard cross from the right side of the box toward the Canadian goal and Jordan Morris finished from in front of the goal for a 1-0 in the second minute!
While the U.S. had more energy, the game changed with Canada taking more possession, and got a couple of good looks at the U.S. goal, both saved easily by Brad Guzan.
The game changed even more dramatically in the 23rd minute, when a clearance by Canadian keeper Milan Borjan was chested down by Paul Arriola in the midfield. He saw an opening for Morris on the left side and his perfect pass found Morris, who dribbled toward the end line and sent a laser-like cross right to the front of goal and Gyasi Zardes ran right onto it with a powerful header to make it 2-0.
Astonishingly, the U.S. scored again just 11 minutes later. Tim Ream sent a left-footed free kick from the left corner of the box into the middle of the scrum, right to the head of Aaron Long, whose shot crossed to the far left side of the goal and right past Borjan. 3-0? Yes, on the fourth U.S. shot of the game!
For the half, the U.S. had only 38% of the possession, but out-shot Canada, 7-3 and had all three goals. Wow!
The game got chippy at the end of the first half and into the second, with plenty of pushing and shoving. But the Canadians continued to hold the majority of the possession and after a Guzan save that led to a corner kick, the visitors scored. The corner sailed toward near corner of the goal, with Jonathan Osorio heading the ball on toward the back post and Steven Vitoria popped it into the net in the 72nd minute.
But the U.S. defense held up and in the 89th minute, a long ball from midfield found sub DeAndre Yedlin down the right side of the Canadian defense. He crossed it back into the middle of the field; the ball was contested and came to the foot of Zardes, who booted a rocket into the net for the 4-1 final.
Canada ended the game with a 64-36% possession edge and trailed the U.S., 11-12, in total shots. But it didn’t matter.
By avenging the stunning 2-0 loss to Canada last month – the first U.S. loss to its northern neighbor since 1985 – the U.S. is now 15-9-11 all-time vs. Canada and 12-1-9 in matches played on American soil.
This result sets up the U.S. for its final game of Group A vs. Cuba in George Town (CAY) on the 19th. The U.S. can win the group – and advance – with a win; Canada has nine points and a +6 goal differential, and the U.S. has six points and a +8 goal differential. So a win will do it; one game at a time.