United States vs. Canada
In a tournament that has predominately been dominated by the United States and Mexico, the U.S. proved once again that their quality was just too much for their opponents. Stalwart Goalkeeper Tim Howard was the quarterback of the defense, making sure the back line stayed organized and the entire team defended as a unit. While Howard wasn’t forced into too many saves during the game, he came up big when he needed to saving three shots from point blank range in a span of a few seconds proving it’s going to take a lot to beat him.
The biggest improvement made by the U.S. since the beat down courtesy of Spain was the backline. The defense held a firm line and communicated well when to step up to draw offsides, drawing quite a few. The center of defense was a big problem in the Spain game and the new pairing of Tim Ream and Clarence Goodson proved be incredibly successful winning tackles and headers while not getting beat over the top. In addition, Defensive Central Midfielder Jermaine Jones, while not a force on the attack, sat well in front of the defensive line winning tackles and stopping any attack from coming up the middle.
While the defense of the U.S. worked to great success, there was no link between the attack and defense. The U.S. continued with their counter-attacking style of play, defending with 9 players (their midfield and defense), winning the ball in their own half and trying to beat Canada out on the run. Attacking Central Midfielder Michael Bradley did well to facilitate the attack and moved the ball from side to side nicely. However, with the U.S. best attackers on the wings in Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan, they tended to drift inside and towards goal, which has proven to be successful, but failed to give the team width. This type of play from Dempsey and Donovan is not bad, but it seems to be detrimental when the outside backs Steve Cherundolo and Carlos Bocanegra fail to get into the attack and make overlapping runs. This made defending the U.S. much easier than it should have been as Canada attempted to stay compact in their defense.
The U.S. throughout the game attacked with five players: Forwards Jozy Altidore and Juan Agudelo, Midfielders Donovan, Dempsey, and Bradley. The U.S. attack failed in terms of numbers and width. Altidore did well in the game to play high on the defense and making diagonal runs to confuse Canada, which led to both his goal and assist. Agudelo proved to be dangerous testing the keeper a few times, but still showed his young age. Still a great performance from the forward line.
While the U.S. came out of this game on top 2-0, there is still much to be improved on. The U.S. needs to get more numbers in the attack by involving Jones more (Edu came on for Jones and immediately got into the attack from the defensive central midfield position) and also incorporating their outside backs. The U.S. defended well as a team, but to have a complete game, they need to be able to link their defense and attack and dominate the central part of the field.