FOOTBALL Preview: Redemption or disgrace for U.S. national team Friday vs. Canada?

U.S. midfielder Wes McKennie

How serious is the situation for the U.S. men’s National Team?

Consider this: the preview of Friday’s CONCACAF Nations League match vs. Canada in Orlando, Florida was titled “For the USMNT It’s Time to Respond.”

True.

Only the winner of each of the four preliminary groups in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League will advance to the final; Honduras (Group C) is already in, and Mexico (also 2-0) is poised to clinch Group B. In Group A:

1. 9 points ~ Canada (3-0; +9 goal differential)
2. 3 points ~ United States (1-1, +5)
3. 0 points ~ Cuba (0-3; -14).

Only the U.S. has two games left: vs. Canada in Orlando on Friday (15th) and vs. Cuba in George Town (CAY) on the 19th (next Tuesday). So for the U.S. to advance, the task is clear: win both games, and by a combined margin of five or more goals.

Given that the U.S. stomped Cuba by 7-0 in their first meeting, that’s possible, but the American side has to defeat Canada first. The Canadians embarrassed the U.S. in a dominant, 2-0 win in Toronto on 15 October, their first win against their southern rivals since 1985!

The U.S. will need to start by scoring a goal. Canada has out-scored the U.S. and Cuba by a combined 9-0 in its games so far. U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter will not have stalwarts Christian Pulisic or Michael Bradley available due to injuries. Brad Guzan will be in goal.

Simply put, the Americans must get more action from strikers Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes and Paul Arriola and midfielders Sebastien Lletget, Wes McKennie, Cristian Roldan and Wil Trapp.

Another loss to Canada, which clearly wanted the first game more than the U.S. did, would sink the American team not simply into irrelevance on the worldwide scene, but raise the question of who is the second-best team in the region behind Mexico.

The game will start at 7 p.m. Eastern time and shown on ESPN2, TUDN and Univision.

The two sides first met in 1925 – won by Canada, 1-0 – but the U.S. has a 14-9-11 lead in the all-time series and 11-1-9 in games played in the U.S. The only home loss was in 1957.

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