It was more of the same from the USMNT as the team once again suffered greatly to capitalize on chances and show any sort of cohesion. This time they paid for it as Canada came from behind and stole 1 huge point in matchday 2 of Concacaf World Cup qualifying.
Gregg Berhalter had to adjust his lineup after missing two important players in Gio Reyna, who went down with an injury, and Weston McKennie, who broke team COVID-19 protocol. Brenden Aaronson was one of the team’s lone bright spots in attack and scored the opening goal of the match. In the second half the USMNT defense broke down and Alphonso Davies blew past DeAndre Yedlin for a pinpoint cross that tied the match after a Cyle Larin goal.
The USMNT and Canada shared the spoils and while for Les Rouges it was cause for celebration for the Yanks it was yet another disappointing outing that has now left behind 4 points on the road to Qatar 2022. Here are 5 takeaways from the USMNT draw with Canada.
1. The bright spots
Brenden Aaronson is the real deal, on a team and national team program that fancies telling the world they have “depth”, Aaronson has been one of the few players to truly maintain a consistent level and become a true go-to player, at this point Aaronson has earned a full-time starting position. 4 goals in 9 caps and constantly being a threat is proof enough. Miles Robinson, at least at the Concacaf level, continues to prove to be a future powerhouse defender, Miles had a very good performance against Canada.
Matt Turner, IMO, has won the starting role for the USMNT, consistently clam and able to make few but key saves are huge for qualification. Turner has stepped up when called upon and earned the starting job.
2. Where 's the depth?
With Reyna out of the lineup, and Weston McKennie out for breaking COVID protocol, the USMNT suffered a massive downgrade, not that there was much when they were on the field. Again, the attack looked plain, the chances were messy and Pulisic was not at his best. The second-string players, besides Aaronson failed to show up. Even reliable understudies like Lletget had a poor game. If the Gold Cup was about depth and all that, well, most of that squad is not even on this one, so all that talk about depth is just that… talk.
3. Who’s going to step up?
After two disappointing performances against El Salvador and Canada the USMNT is due a breakout performance, hopefully. All eyes will be on Christian Pulisic to carry the team on his shoulders, but after only recently coming back from testing positive for COVID-19 that is a big ask. Pulisic will need help and it needs to come from the attacking third of the field. Aaronson and de la Fuente could be good companions for Pulisic who is still not 100% match fit. A striker who can score would be nice as well.
4. Back to basics
On the road against Honduras, the USMNT best not get cute, these are 3 massive points or even 1 very important road point to have after dropping two against Canada. The USMNT will have to go back to the Bob Bradley days of bunkering, and a quick counter. There the three middlemen of Aaronson, de la Fuente, and Pulisic could be key to get something going on a breakaway. Defense will be key against Honduras and if Dest is healthy, Berhalter may need to make a tough choice and bench Dest who has been less than stellar in his two games for the USMNT.
5. Is the USMNT in trouble?
No, not yet at least, even a worst-case scenario of a defeat in Honduras would not be a death nail for the team. What is worrying is the lack of chances created and the lack of team cohesion. Sloppy, poor passing, not many ideas, the USMNT look nothing like their FIFA team sheet would indicate. This very young team is getting their feet wet in the worst possible way on the spot and with no lifesaver. The team has character, but they lack putting that character and talent into a well-groomed team.
Bonus track: the USMNT starting XI against Honduras
With no need to get too cute the USMNT need at least a draw against Honduras here is my starting XI for this crucial match.
McKennie (if he can go, if not Acosta)
de la Fuente