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Four years later, Canada gets another crack at USA
by Ridge Mahoney, June 6th, 2011 10:19PM

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TAGS:  canada, gold cup, men's national team

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[USA-CANADA PREVIEW] As the tale is told north of the border, the narrowest escape for the USA at the 2007 Gold Cup came not in the final with Mexico, but rather in a semifinal squeaker against Canada.

At Soldier Field in Chicago, the same venue at which they would edge past Mexico three days later, the Americans prevailed, 2-1, with a goal by Frankie Hejduk and a Landon Donovan penalty kick just before halftime. After Ian Hume pulled a goal back for Canada, an apparent equalizer by Atiba Hutchinson that would have forced overtime was disallowed for offside.

How close -- or incorrect -- that call was depends on who’s describing it, but the Americans who were on the field that day acknowledged they’d been in a tough battle.

The stakes for their rematch Tuesday at Ford Field in Detroit (8 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel and TeleFutura) aren’t nearly so high – this is the Group C opener for both teams – yet in addition to past encounters including the one four years ago, the players know each other from club play in MLS as well as abroad.

The Canadian roster is dotted with players from leagues in Scandinavia, England, Germany and the Netherlands and other leagues whose clubs have employed American players for the past two decades. Dwayne DeRosario (New York), Andre Hainault (Houston), Julian de Guzman (Toronto FC) and Terry Dunfield (Vancouver) play in MLS, as does D.C. United defender Dejan Jakovic, who has been sidelined by a hamstring injury and will miss the tournament.

The loss of Jakovic could weaken the middle of Canada’s back line, which instead will probably feature Kevin McKenna (FC Cologne) and Hainault. An injury deprives Canada of European veteran Paul Stalteri, whose experience at outside back will be sorely missed. In the past year, Canada coach Stephen Hart has used Nikolas Ledgerwood, Michael Klukowski, Marcel de Jong and Jaime Peters on the corners with limited success.

Canada’s strength is in its midfield, where RSL veteran Will Johnson and former TFC teammates De Rosario and Julian de Guzman help form a powerful unit with Hutchinson, who leads the supply lines to massive (6-foot-5) striker Rob Friend, a Chicago selection in the 2004 SuperDraft out of UC Santa Barbara who opted for Europe instead and currently plays for German club Hertha Berlin.

Hart may opt to pair Friend with a partner up top, or use a five-man midfield with wingers in support of his lone striker. On his roster is former TFC forward Ali Gerba, who now plays for Montreal, but the coach has favored Josh Simpson, Tosaint Ricketts and Simeon Jackson in supporting roles.

Jackson, 24, is coming into the tournament off a strong showing during Norwich City’s capture of the NPower League Championship and an automatic place in the English Premier League next season. He scored 13 goals in 20 league games for the Canaries and at 5-foot-5, is the antithesis of Friend in more ways than one.

Gerba is one of five starters from the 2007 Gold Cup match that returns this time around for Canada. Another of those returnees, DeRosario, can trace his Gold Cup lineage all the way back to Canada’s capture of the 2000 competition, as well as a 2002 semifinal against the USA that ended 0-0 and went to the USA via penalty kicks.

After getting stuffed by Spain, coming back just three days later might be the best way for the USA to shake off bad memories.

“We will just have to try to look closely at ourselves,” said midfielder Michael Bradley, one of several halftime subs against Spain who subdued the carnage of a 4-0 defeat that dropped the USA record in 2011 to 0-2-2. The U.S. has not lost to Canada since 1985, with a 7-0-6 record since then, and has blanked its neighbors in six of the last seven encounters.

“Obviously, they’re a good team and they don’t need much in little situations to make passes and then give themselves a chance,” said Bradley. “Certainly, as we move forward not only in the Gold Cup but also in qualifying and hopefully the World Cup down the road, these experiences will help us.”



0 comments
  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: June 7, 2011 at 12:47 p.m.
    Ohhhhhh, Ragin Ridge, here you go again, spoiling what was a fair article on the "rivalry" 'tween US and Oh-Canada, by extolling the virtues of Banal Bradley Junior.... here you go gigving him "most" of the credit for having "subdued the carnage of a 4-0 defeat..." YE GADS, MAN! it was a complete US meltdown perpetrated by Banal Bradley Sr and yet you seem to extoll his virtues, the team lost, and no one "subdued the carnage (sic)" as it was a team affair, and not just one player! Come on man, give us frickin' break in your biased and pro-bradley reporting!

  1. John Soares
    commented on: June 7, 2011 at 2:35 p.m.
    OHHHHHH, Rantin Ric, Give us a break.... You rant about Bradley always starting the same old, bias lineup. Then when he tries something different you rant just as much. You think all the US needs is a new/better coach. Right... Think Arena in Italy. Our best striker/hope (Altidore) is sitting on the bench of a midiocre team second best (Aguedelo) doesn't even start in the MLS. Mourinho couldn't do better with this team. Mourinho surrounds himself with the best talent money can buy. Bradley has no such option. AND yes Bradley Jr has shown to be perhaps our most consistant (defensive) midfielder. Don't even mention Torres, unless you did not watch the World Cup.

  1. Vic Flegel
    commented on: June 7, 2011 at 2:58 p.m.
    Fonseca is an idiot!

  1. David Huff
    commented on: June 7, 2011 at 3:57 p.m.
    John & Vic, I nominate you both for "Apologist of the Year" given your sycophantic devotion to Team Bradley, those pillars of the midfield - Junior and (presumably) Redcardo Clark, and their puppetmasters at MLS/SUM/USSF.

  1. Steven Erickson
    commented on: June 7, 2011 at 7:17 p.m.
    Show Bradley(s) the door and US Soccer will improve greatly. Watch the US-Canada game and you'll see the US team can't get any worse, it's there.

  1. Jesse Martinez
    commented on: June 7, 2011 at 10:55 p.m.
    With all due respect to Mr. Fonseca and his exceptional and always entertaining insights, I agree with John and Vic. The Ragin' Ridge and Banal Bradley stuff is getting a bit worn.


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