After an away defeat last month, the United States men’s national team will be seeking revenge when they host Canada in the return match of their CONCACAF Nations League group at the Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida on Friday (7PM ET, live on ESPN 2 / Unimás).
Canada took advantage of their chances to claim a surprise victory at BMO Field in Toronto, with second-half strikes from the ever-dangerous Alphonso Davies and substitute Lucas Cavallini enough to give them their first win over the US since 1985.
It was a historic result and one that put Canada in control of the group, with a full nine points from their three matches to date. USMNT have three from two, with Cuba plum last on the back of three consecutive defeats. If Team USA fail to win on Friday, Canada will advance to the final four of the competition in their stead.
Whether that would cause any real consternation within the ranks of US soccer is open to question. For the smaller nations, the Nations League holds importance as a route to qualification for the 2021 Gold Cup. For the continent’s top teams, its worth is less clear. It is, in effect, little more than a glorified friendly competition.
The loss away to Canada did provide reason for concern. After a relatively promising start to his tenure, and a Gold Cup campaign that put some of the building blocks of his approach in place, recent performances and results suggest that USMNT are not developing at the rate they would like under head coach Gregg Berhalter. Across their last five matches, they have defeated Cuba, drawn with Uruguay and lost to Canada once and Mexico twice.
We are still too early into his time in charge to draw proper conclusions, but the weaknesses visible against Canada were broadly those that have been evident since Berhalter took over. His team’s ball movement is often more ponderous than patient and they struggle to create good openings. When possession turns over, teams can get at them quickly in transition.
The new qualifying format for the 2022 World Cup, with the six top-ranked teams in CONCACAF by the FIFA rankings at June 2020 automatically advancing to the final stage of qualification without having to traverse the earlier rounds as they once did, frees Berhalter of further immediate competitive reckoning. Progress will clearly need to be made prior to the commencement of that six-team round-robin shootout for World Cup qualification.
Berhalter has had a bit of extra time to work with the majority of his domestic-based players in the lead up to Friday’s CONCACAF Nations League soccer game due to their MLS campaigns coming to an end. Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris of the champions Seattle Sounders joined up with the group after their triumph on Sunday. He will be without two regulars in the form of the injured Christian Pulisic and Michael Bradley.
Canada’s hopes of pushing their way into the top six in CONCACAF and so get in to the final round of World Cup qualifying were greatly aided by their victory in Toronto. If they are able to avoid defeat in Orlando and so advance to the knockout phase of the competition that would provide an extra opportunity to add to their ranking points ahead of the cutoff.
John Herdman has done impressive work since moving over to the men’s team from the women’s national side in January of last year, leading his team to 10 victories in 12 matches. He hopes the win over the U.S. will prove to be the first big step towards better things for a country whose one and only World Cup appearance came in 1986. “It’s only one little drip in the ocean of what I’m hoping for this team,” he said afterwards. “There’s more to come.”
Our Preview’s USA vs Canada Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
Canada were quite happy to sit back and play on the counter attack in last month’s match and given that it was a successful approach, there is no reason to think they will change tact this time around. Between Davies, a starter for Bayern Munich in recent weeks, the Gent striker Jonathan David and Puebla’s Cavallini, they certainly have sufficient attacking firepower to cause the United States problems in transition again.
If they can take their chances, Canada are capable of nabbing the point that would confirm them as group winners.
Coming to our USMNT vs Canada predictions, the oddsmakers that serve residents of the United States of America have yet to publish their odds on this game, but the sort of wager we would advise is something like this:
- Bet on Canada +0.5 goal on the handicap or spread.