The U.S. Men's National Team played Canada to a scoreless draw on Sunday in front of a crowd of 15,247 at BMO Field that was celebrating the centenary of the Canadian Soccer Association. The two teams now turn toward the start of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying later in the week.
The U.S. pushed its unbeaten streak against Canada to 15 games (8-0-7), dating back to April 4, 1985. With the scoreless draw, the team also posted its fourth clean sheet in six games, moving to 4-1-1 overall in 2012. However, the USA saw an end to its three-game winning streak outside of the country as the group was looking to become the first to post four straight victories away from home.
The U.S. is in the midst of a five-game stretch in 18 days in what head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is approaching as a tournament. The U.S. begins World Cup qualifying at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, June 8 against Antigua & Barbuda at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. The match will be televised live on ESPN2, ESPN3 and Galavision. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and via Twitter @ussoccer.
"I think the first half we were doing quite well in terms of possession and moving the ball around," said Klinsmann. " I think what we were lacking was creating more chances in the final third to get down to the endlines and get crosses in. We trained on that and wanted to do that more. The second half was more open. Either team could have scored a goal, especially in the last couple of minutes. Overall the result is fine, and we're now 18 or 19 days into the camp where we have done a lot of hard work. Now we will really be able to focus on the World Cup qualifiers, and we're looking forward to getting the process started."
The U.S. had to make a lineup change just before the start of the match after left back Fabian Johnson sustained a mild right calf strain during warm-ups. With Johnson unable to play, Edgar Castillo - who wasn't even in the original 18-player game day roster - was tapped for the start.
On the offensive side of the field for the U.S., Clint Dempsey earned his first start after recovering from a groin injury he suffered near the end of his club season. With Landon Donovan also getting the nod in midfield, it marked the first time under Klinsmann that Dempsey and Donovan were in the starting lineup together.
Despite dealing with the surprising start, Castillo had one of the best early threats on goal in the 15th minute from nearly 40 yards out - a dipping left-footed shot that forced Canada goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld to tip the ball over the crossbar. The sequence began with a free kick by Jose Torres from the left side. The ball was partially cleared out of the box, but Castillo lined up a shot attempt with a looping strike into the wind that would have found the inside of the frame if not for Hirschfeld.
Tosaint Ricketts had the first clear scoring chance for Canada in the first half following a deep throw-in. The U.S. could not clear Julian de Guzman's initial 23rd-minute strike, and Ricketts came into the picture with a lunging volley toward the right side of the goal. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard dove to his left to make the key save and keep the scoreboard empty.
Canada's Nik Ledgerwood thought he had the game's first goal in the 34th minute, but the assistant referee spotted a foul when Canada's Dwayne De Rosario and David Edgar were battling against Castillo on the right sideline. While the official lifted his flag, Ledgerwood played on and struck the ball that found the far side netting. It was all for naught, though, as the play was already ruled dead.
The U.S. started to make a little more noise toward the end of the first half in the final third. Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan played a nice give-and-go in the 40th minute, springing Dempsey into the six-yard box, but Hirschfeld stepped up in the nick of time to force a deflection and a U.S. corner kick. Later in the 41st minute, Dempsey found space to unleash a shot on goal that went directly to Hirschfeld.
Jermaine Jones, who leads the U.S. in minutes played this year, had an active start to the second half with a 52nd-minute header that Edgar deflected away with his leg. The chance was the result of a strong counter attack that originated when U.S. center back Clarence Goodson headed the ball clear on the defensive end. The U.S. quickly moved the ball up the field until Donovan served in a cross from the right side that found Jones for the opportunity.
Canada forced Howard to make a couple of saves in succession, starting in the 65th minute. The first was a low Ledgerwood shot that forced Howard to dive to his right for the save. Two minutes later, de Guzman took a shot from just outside the box that Howard easily smothered.
Though no goals were scored Sunday, the three minutes of second-half stoppage time included a relatively frantic finish where both teams had some of their best scoring chances of the entire match.
Canada had the best opportunity to corral a victory when De Rosario crossed the ball in from the left side and found an unmarked Simeon Jackson at point-blank range, but Jackson pushed the shot wide left of the goal.
The U.S. came right back and Goodson drew a foul against Canada's Iain Hume, setting the table for a Michael Bradley free kick. Bradley whipped a cross into the area where Goodson rose to power a crisp header on frame, but Hirschfeld pushed the ball over the crossbar to maintain the scoreless draw.
Additional Match Notes:
-- U.S. Men's National Team Game Report --
Match: U.S. Men's National Team vs. Canada
Date: June 3, 2012
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: BMO Field; Toronto, Canada
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Weather: 60 degrees; cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
CAN 0 0 0
USA : 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo (2-Michael Parkhurst, 80), 21-Clarence Goodson, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.) (5-Oguchi Onyewu, 62), 15-Edgar Castillo; 4-Michael Bradley, 13-Jermaine Jones, 10-Landon Donovan (7-Maurice Edu, 73), 16-Jose Torres (17-Jozy Altidore, 62); 8-Clint Dempsey, 9-Herculez Gomez (19-Chris Wondolowski, 80)
Subs not used: 20-Geoff Cameron, 22-Nick Rimando
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
CAN : 1-Lars Hirschfeld; 15-David Edgar, 4-Kevin McKenna (capt.), 5-Andre Hainault, 21-Ante Jazic (3-Mike Klukowski, 88); 9-Tosaint Ricketts (7-Iain Hume, 86), 2-Nik Ledgerwood (16-Pedro Pacheco, 73), 6-Julian de Guzman (20-Samuel Piette, 86), 8-Will Johnson, 14-Dwayne De Rosario; 17-Olivier Occean (10-Simeon Jackson, 65)
Subs not used: 12-Dejan Jakovic, 13-Atiba Hutchinson, 18-Milan Borjan, 19-Ashtone Morgan, 22-Kenny Stamatopoulos, 23-Issey Nakajima-Farran
Head coach: Steven Hart
Stats Summary: USA / CAN
Shots: 9 / 9
Shots on Goal: 4 / 3
Saves: 3 / 4
Corner Kicks: 8 / 3
Fouls: 10 / 13
Offside: 1 / 1
CAN - Julian De Guzman (caution) 14th minute
CAN - Andre Hainault (caution) 54
USA - Jermaine Jones (caution) 78
Referee: Mauricio Morales (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Marcos Quintero (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Salvador Rodriguez (MEX)
Fourth Official: Paul Ward (CAN)
Budweiser Man of the Match:
Match report courtesy of www.ussoccer.com
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