What a difference a week makes.
Just four nights after the US national team produced one of its best results under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann — a 5-1 shellacking over Scotland last Saturday night — the Americans were humbled by five-time World Cup winners Brazil in a 4-1 defeat on Wednesday.
In their final tune-up before World Cup qualifying begins against Antigua and Barbuda on June 8, the United States get set to take on Canada on Sunday night at BMO Field in Toronto (7 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, Sportsnet, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) in their first match on their northern neighbors’ home turf since 1997.
The US-Canada rivalry has lost its luster in recent years as the United States currently ride a 14-game unbeaten streak against the Canadians. It has been more than 25 years since the Americans have lost in this series — a 2-0 defeat on April 2, 1985, in Vancouver — and they own the all-time series record at 12-8-9.
The last time these two sides met was last June, when Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey — ironically, both of whom were absent from the starting lineup against Brazil for different reasons — paced the US to a 2-0 Gold Cup win in front of 28,000 fans at Ford Field in Detroit. The US went on to finish second in Group C, with Canada finishing right behind them in third.
USA Team News
The buzzword floating around the United States’ locker room following the Brazil loss: “nasty.”
That’s what Klinsmann expected, and expects, to see more of out of his team. That attitude towards the game has caused quite a stir between players and fans alike, and despite the “friendly” moniker, do not be surprised if the US come out with a little more fire and a bigger chip on their shoulders against the Canucks.
This may also be the first time that Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey get the start together up front under Klinsmann. After coming on as a second-half substitute against Brazil — and providing a much-needed spark to the American attack — Dempsey certainly appears fit enough to get the nod. However, Klinsmann may decide to save him for the match with Antigua and Barbuda, when the games really start to matter.
Canada Team News
Playing in their first match since their 3-1 Friendly loss to Armenia on Feb. 29, Canada will be squaring off with the US ahead of their own World Cup qualifying second-round opener, June 8 at Cuba.
The 75th-ranked team in the latest FIFA rankings will be looking to gain some momentum and right the ship against their neighbors to the south. Stephen Hart has some firepower available to him on his 22-man roster, with many of his players gaining valuable experience abroad.
Among those expected to make an impact are midfielder Atiba Hutchinson (PSV Eindhoven), defender Kevin McKenna (FC Köln) and Major League Soccer icon Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United).
Players to Watch:
USA — Fabian Johnson: The exciting Hoffenheim defender was a bright spot in the US’ defeat to Brazil and showed he is more than ready to produce on the big stage. If he gets going, he will give Canada’s backline fits all game long.
Canada — Iain Hume: The hard-working forward has scored 17 goals in 45 career games for Preston North End, and added two more to his international tally against Saint Lucia in a 7-0 Canadian rout in World Cup qualifying back in October. The US central defense looked shaky against the Brazilians, and if they don’t find a way to improve it, Hume could have himself a ballgame.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/England), Tim Howard (Everton/England), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers/Scotland), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96/Germany), Clarence Goodson (Brondby/Denmark), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/Germany), Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting CP/Portugal), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland/Denmark)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona/Italy), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Maurice Edu (Rangers/Scotland), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/Germany), Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca/Mexico)
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar/Netherlands), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund/Germany), Clint Dempsey (Fulham/England), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna/Mexico), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Lars Hirschfeld (Vålerenga/Norway), Milan Borjan (Sivasspor/Turkey), Kenny Stamatopoulos (AIK/Sweden)
DEFENDERS (7): Nik Ledgerwood (SV Wehen Wiesbaden/Germany), Mike Klukowski (Manisaspor/Turkey), Kevin McKenna (FC Köln/Germany), André Hainault (Houston Dynamo), David Edgar (Burnley FC/England), Ashtone Morgan (Toronto FC), Ante Jazić (Chivas USA)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Julian de Guzman (Toronto FC), Will Johnson (Real Salt Lake), Josh Simpson (BSC Young Boys/Switzerland), Atiba Hutchinson (PSV Eindhoven/Netherlands), Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United), Pedro Pacheco (CD Santa Clara/Portugal), Samuel Piette (unattached), Issey Nakajima-Farran (Brisbane Roar/Australia)
FORWADS (4): Iain Hume (Preston North End/England), Tosaint Ricketts (Politehnica Timişoara/Romania), Simeon Jackson (Norwich City/England), Olivier Occean (SpVgg Greuther Fürth/Germany)