[CANADA-USA] The USA and Canada played to a 0-0 tie in their final friendly before the start of World Cup 2014 qualifying on Friday. It was the least inspiring
performance by the USA in its three friendlies. Its best chance came in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Canada goalie Lars Hirschfeld tipped Clarence Goodson's header over the bar. Next up: Antigua & Barbuda Friday in the opening qualifier, then on to Guatemala for the most important of the five-game
series. What will the USA have left in the tank when it takes to the field at Mateo Flores Stadium?
WHERE'S THE ATTACK? For the first time in the Jurgen Klinsmann era, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey started in the same game as part of the most attack-minded lineup Klinsmann has put on the field. But the USA's 4-4-2 formation produced far less penetration into the Canadian third than the Americans did against either Scotland or Brazil. The USA had 29 combined shots in its first two games but only managed nine on Sunday in Toronto. Coming back from a late-season injury, Dempsey doesn't look like the player that scored 17 goals for Fulham. And neither Donovan nor Jose Torres scored the combination play they did in the opening game of the USA's friendly series when it hammered Scotland, 5-1.
BIG TEST FOR CASTILLO. Fabian Johnson's late scratch with a calf strain is bad news for the USA. His ability to get up and down the left flank has been a revelation in the USA's previous three games, dating back to February's Italy friendly, and he will be missed in the upcoming qualifiers if he is unavailable. His replacement, Edgar Castillo, didn't have a bad game against Canada, but he simply doesn't have pace. The New Mexican product will face the biggest test of his U.S. career if he is called upon the start against Guatemala on June 12.
STARTING XI FOR TAMPA. The road to Brazil begins Friday night in Tampa. Here's one take on a probable starting XI: Tim Howard in goal; Steve Cherundolo, Carlos Bocanegra, Goodson and Castillo (assuming Johnson can't go) on the backline; Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Donovan and Torres in midfield; and Jozy Altidore and Dempsey up front.
THE FITNESS ISSUE. Klinsmann has said the five-game series is all about results. A 1-1-1 record in the three friendlies is not what he was counting on, but it is irrelevant in the big picture. Wins over Scotland, Brazil and Canada wouldn't matter if the USA can't get out Mateo Flores Stadium in Guatemala City with at least a point. Klinsmann noted after Sunday's game that his players were tired after three games and almost three weeks of work. "We can clearly see they have 18, 19 days of hard work in their legs," he said. The key will be how those legs will be in Guatemala game when the Chapines with the crowd behind them throw everything at the Americans.
June 3 in Toronto
Canada 0 USA 0.
Canada -- Hirschfeld; Jazic (Klukowski 87), Hainault, McKenna, Edgar; Johnson, de Guzman (Piette 85), Ledgerwood (Pacheco 72); De Rosario, Occean (Jackson, 65), Ricketts (Hume 85).
USA -- Howard; Cherundolo (Parkhurst 80), Goodson, Bocanegra (Onyewu 62), Castillo; Bradley, Jones, Donovan (Edu 73), Torres (Altidore 62); Dempsey, Gomez (Wondolowski 79).
Referee: Mauricio Morales (Mexico).