BRIAN SCIARETTA - Sunday, March 25, 2012
The United States U-23 team was stunned on Saturday night by a well organized Canadian team to put their Olympic hopes in jeopardy.
The United States came out with a very similar lineup to the one that defeated Cuba on Thursday night. The only changes were Zarek Valentin moved from left back to right back with Jorge Villafana moving into the starting lineup.
Also prior to the game, the US learned that starting forward Juan Agudelo suffered a torn meniscus and will miss the remainder of the tournament. US coach Caleb Porter elected to replace Agudelo with Teal Bunbury.
The United States came out strong and controlled the possession but were not able to execute in the final third of the field. The only two chances in the first half were shots from Freddy Adu and Joe Corona but both were saved by Canadian keeper Michal Misiewicz.
In the second half, the Canadian team came out with more confidence and they took the lead in the 58th minute. On the play Philippe Davies took a corner kick and Canada forward Doneil Henry out-jumped a poorly positioned US goalkeeper Bill Hamid and was able to head it home for a shocking 1-0 lead.
The US team failed to make effective adjustments throughout the game and Porter had the team continue with their usual 4-3-3 throughout the entire match. In the end it never looked close to penetrating Canada's defensive 4-3-2-1 formation that clogged the middle of the field.
The best US chance came in the in the 65th minute, when Villafana found Adu in the box. Adu unleashed a powerful shot but was saved by Misiewicz who prevented the equalizer.
In the 83rd minute Canada took advantage of poor set piece defending when Russell Teibert took a short corner kick to Philippe Davies. Davies then swung in a cross that found Lucas Cavallini open in the six yard box for a header. Cavallini made no mistake and sent it past Hamid to give the Canadians a 2-0 lead.
The United States now has far more questions to answer as it sits in third place in their group. The United States must defeat an El Salvadorian team on Monday who outplayed Canada in a 0-0 draw in their opening win.
If Canada defeats a very poor Cuban team on Monday as expected, the United States will not be able to win the group. If Mexico wins Group B, the best the US can hope for is a do-or-die semifinal game against the powerful Mexicans.
The United States will finish group play on Monday against El Salvador.