US Under-23s lose to Canada 2-0 in Olympic Qualifying
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 24, 2012) – The U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team lost to Canada 2-0 in its second match of CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying on Saturday night at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. With the loss, the U.S. sits in third place in Group A but still holds its destiny in its own hands, as a victory against El Salvador on Monday, March 26 would guarantee advancement to the semifinals and the opportunity to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London.
The all-important final group game between the U.S. and El Salvador will kick off at 8 p.m. CT Monday night, with live coverage on Universal Sports Network, mun2 and CONCACAF.com. Fans also can follow the game via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer. (TICKETS)
The win was Canada U-23’s first in 20 years against the USA. The last time the USA lost to Canada was May 17, 1992, a 2-1 defeat in the final game of qualifying for the Barcelona Olympics after the U.S. had already sealed its place at the 1992 games.
“We’re obviously very disappointed. We knew going into the match that we were going to face an organized team, a team that was going to sit with numbers behind the ball and look to exploit us on the counterattack and on set pieces,” said U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team head coach Caleb Porter. “We knew we were going to have to be sharp and break down the numbers. We knew we were going to have to put out the fire on the break and be organized on set pieces. We didn’t do well on any of those things. We had our looks. Their goalkeeper certainly had a great game and made some saves. Credit to Canada. They were organized and put some fresh legs in there. That helped them fight hard to the end.”
The USA made two changes to its starting lineup from Thursday’s 6-0 win against Cuba, one tactical and one forced by injury. Jorge Villafaña was brought in to the left back position with Zarek Valentin moving across the defense to the right, and forward Teal Bunbury replaced Juan Agudelo up top. Agudelo was ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a torn meniscus before tonight’s match. The young U.S. striker had scored in each of his last two games with the U-23s.
Porter’s team was the brighter side to start the first half, controlling play and dictating the tempo. Forward Freddy Adu curled in a free kick that was saved well in the seventh minute. Canada goalkeeper Michal Misiewicz smothered the low shot from 20 yards with Brek Shea and Bunbury lurking for the rebound.
Ten minutes later, a 50-yard switch from Adu found Shea in acres of space. After skipping by his defender, the FC Dallas man steered a ball toward Bunbury at the near post with only a last-ditch intervention from Doneil Henry saving a likely goal.
As the first half wore on there were signs Canada was coming into the game. After seeing his team significantly outplayed in the opening match against El Salvador, Canada head coach opted to make six revisions to his starting lineup.
One of those changes was bringing on Randy Ewini-Bonsu, and the speedy right-winger was making his presence felt. In the 28th minute he ran past Villafaña on the flank before testing U.S. goalkeeper Bill Hamid with a low cross. Seven minutes later Ewini-Bonsu cut inside the field before blasting a shot from 25 yards over Hamid’s goal.
The best chance of the half fell to Canada forward Evan James, who had entered the game after an early injury to Babayele Sodade. James picked up a Jared Jeffrey turnover before sidestepping Mix Diskerud and drilling a low shot that Hamid did well to block from 20 yards.
At halftime it was still anybody’s game, with Porter electing to bring on forward Joe Gyau, withdraw Joe Corona, and move Adu into the midfield. Only three minutes later, the move appeared to have paid immediate dividends.
Adu curled a free kick into the box from 35 yards out, where defender Ike Opara rose for an unstoppable header. Immediately, however, referee Jafeth Perea of Panama waved off the goal, with his assistant correctly flagging for offside.
Canada used the reprieve to go in search of their first goal of the tournament and in the 58th minute they found it.
A corner kick from Philippe Davies dropped right into the six-yard box, where Henry beat Opara and Hamid to the ball to head home. After making a defensive stop from a similar spot in the first half, the centerback’s offensive contribution ended up proving decisive in Nashville.
Porter’s team pushed forward as the game wore on, desperately searching for the all-important tying goal. Gyau and Shea were constant threats on the wings, but crosses into the box were either not falling for other U.S. attackers or cleared by the industrious Canada defense.
Defender Perry Kitchen drilled a shot wide in the 80th minute while forward Terrence Boyd, on as a second half sub for his first appearance with the U-23s, did his utmost to get on the end of a series of inviting services.
It just was not falling for the U.S. and in the 83rd minute Canada struck again to put the game out of reach. Substitute Amobi Okugo was booked for a foul on the edge of the area, after which Hamid saved well from a dangerous free kick.
But from the ensuing corner, Canada worked it short before Davies again lofted a delicious ball right into the danger area. This time Lucas Cavallini made space for himself and his diving header found its way into the goal.
The insurance goal was all Canada would need to see out the win after four minutes of stoppage time and leave the U.S. with everything to do in its final group game vs. El Salvador on Monday.
-U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team Match Report-
Match: U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team vs. Canada
Date: March 24, 2012
Competition: CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying – Group A
Venue: LP Field; Nashville, Tenn.
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET
Weather: 62 degrees, clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
CAN 0 2 2
CAN – Doneil Henry (Philippe Davies) 58th minute
CAN – Lucas Cavallini (Philippe Davies) 83
USA: 1-Bill Hamid; 5-Zarek Valentin, 2-Ike Opara, 4-Perry Kitchen,13-Jorge Villafaña; 6-Jared Jeffrey (16-Amobi Okugo, 76) , 8-Mix Diskerud, 10-Joe Corona (14-Joe Gyau, 46); 7-Freddy Adu (capt.),12-Teal Bunbury (15-Terrence Boyd, 56), 11-Brek Shea
Substitutions not Used: 3-Kofi Sarkodie, 17-Tony Taylor, 18-Sean Johnson, 19-Sheanon Williams, 20-Michael Stephens
Head Coach: Caleb Porter
CAN: 18-Michal Misiewicz; 2-Andres Fresenga (11-Matthew Stinson, 68), 4-Nana Attakora-Gyan, 5-Doneil Henry, 3-Russell Teibert; 6-Kyle Bekker, 8-Samuel Piette, 14-Philippe Davies; 12-Babayele Sodade (20-Evan James, 22), 13-Lucas Cavallini, 19-Randy Edwini-Bonsu ( 15-Sherif El-Masri, 90+3)
Subs not used: 1-Adam Janssen, 7-Bryce Alderson, 9-Shaun Saiko,10-Marcus Haber, 16-Drew Beckie, 17-Carl Haworth,
Head coach: Tony Fonseca
Stats Summary: USA / CAN
Shots: 10 / 9
Shots on Goal: 4 / 5
Saves: 3 / 4
Corner Kicks: 6 / 6
Fouls: 10 / 13
Offside: 4 / 7
CAN – Lucas Cavallini (caution) 8th minute
CAN – Andres Fresenga (caution) 66
USA – Amobi Okugo (cuation) 81
CAN – Randy Edwini-Bonsu (sent off) 90+4
Referee: Jafeth Perea (PAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Keytzell Corrales (NIC)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Lemus (GUA)
Fourth Official: Walter Lopez (GUA)