[USA-CANADA] Here's what we learned from the USA’s 2-0 win over Canada Tuesday night in Detroit in their Group C opener ...
There’s a reason the forwards drift wide. Fans and journalists sometimes question why Jozy Altidore and Juan Agudelo occupy the flank, but by working smartly on the wing they can open up space for teammates, especially Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan. Agudelo’s quickness and Altidore’s strength tested the Canadians numerous times.
The U.S. attacked Canada’s weak spot, its outside backs, but didn’t rely solely on Dempsey and Donovan knifing inside from the wide positions. Both Agudelo and Altidore got outside to stretch the back four, and find gaps that opened up after Altidore had run onto a through ball from Donovan in the 15th minute and drilled a low shot under keeper Lars Hirschfeld.
In the second half, Donovan and Dempsey veered inside to play combinations that confused the Canadians, and helped regain the momentum that led up to the second goal. Altidore looped to the right wing to collect the ball and smack a low centering pass that Dempsey tucked away with a superb sliding finish.
Dempsey is at the peak of his game. A few minutes before he scored, Dempsey nearly knocked in a deflected cross that came over a few feet behind his run at the back post. With his right foot cocked behind his back, he got enough of the ball to direct it on frame and a deflection yielded the U.S. a corner kick.
By scoring 12 Premier League goals for Fulham this past season, Dempsey not only set a high-water mark for Americans in a foreign league, he broadened his game to work all areas of the attacking third in a role as creator as much as finisher. And there was nothing easy about his goal; Agudelo nicked Altidore’s cross as it came across the goalmouth, and Dempsey had to fend off a challenge from Kevin McKenna to hit the ball solidly as he slid well beyond the far post, and still slotted it home.
By gliding into space carved out by a pair of effective forwards – the key word here is “effective” – Dempsey can be just as, if not more, dangerous than he would be as a second forward, which some view as his best position. He and Donovan flipped sides and also moved into the middle, with central mids Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones pivoting off the shifts to keep a defensive shape.
Howard saves it late. With its two-goal lead, the U.S. relaxed defensively, and substitutes Rob Friend and Ali Gerba sparked a Canadian revival as Dwayne De Rosario, Josh Simpson and Simeon Jackson finally got into gear. Gerba broke down the right wing to test Howard with a rising shot that he pushed over the crossbar, and in the final minutes, after a scramble, Gerba labeled a fierce volley that Howard repelled with another incredible reflex save.
Along with Donovan, Dempsey, Steve Cherundolo and Michael Bradley, Howard displayed again why he’s absolutely essential to the U.S cause. He responded after seeing little action for most of the match, and by snuffing out any faint Canadian hopes restored some U.S. confidence after being smoked four times by Spain.
June 7 in Detroit
Panama 3 Guadeloupe 2.
Panama -- Penedo. L. Henriquez, Baloy, Dasent, Machado (Cummings 82), Barahona (Quintero 77), Gomez, A.Henriquez, Cooper, Perez, Tejada (Renteria 66).
Guadeloupe -- Grandel, Comminges, Lambourde, Viator, Tacalfred, Collet (Gamiette 60), Fleurival, Auvray (Racon 74), Loval, Gendrey (Jovial 48), Socrier.
Referee: Trevor Taylor (Barbados).
June 7 in Detroit
USA 2 Canada 0. Goals: Altidore 15, Dempsey 62.
USA -- Howard, Cherundolo, Goodson, Ream, Bocanegra, Dempsey, Bradley, Jones (Edu, 79), Donovan, Altidore (Kljestan, 74), Agudelo (Wondolowski, 65).
Canada -- Hirschfeld, Ledgerwood, McKenna, Hainault, de Jong, Dunfield (Beaulieu-Borgault, 81), Hutchinson, Johnson (Gerba, 65), De Rosario (Friend, 81), Simpson, Jackson.
Referee: Walter Lopez (Guatemala).