Familiar story as Canada blanked

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

DETROIT - Despite the promise of something different, the game had the maddening familiarity of all that has gone before it.

Canada has not defeated the United States in a competitive men's soccer match since 1980.

This edition of Canada's national soccer team was supposed to be different. It was supposed to mark a new era, a new growth and new hope for Canada's team.

Yet Wednesday at Ford Field the result provided nothing new.

The Americans defeated Canada 2-0 in the opening Group C game for both teams at the 2011 Gold Cup tournament in front of 28,209.

The last time Canada defeated the Americans in any game was in 1985 in an international friendly.

Is it still a rivalry when only one team wins?

"I think it's still a healthy rivalry," said Canada coach Stephen Hart. "I honestly felt we played a much better second half. We adjusted really well. We didn't create that many chances but the chances we did create were very good.

"Howard was absolute magic. I almost clapped."

This is Hart's first competitive tournament as Canada's head coach without having the interim tag before his name. But what he says sounds depressingly familiar to what was being said before.

Canada had chances to score but couldn't. Canada got better as the game progressed but by that time they were trailing 2-0. Canada played well but American goalkeeper Tim Howard played better.

When it is all said and done, it was yet another loss in an important game.

To be fair, it was but one game.

This Canada roster holds much more promise than rosters in the past.

But getting the talent from roster to field will be Hart's challenge.

It wasn't until Hart substituted Ali Gerba for Will Johnson in the 65th minute that Canada became dangerous.

Until then, the positive moments Canada had were few and far between.

In truth, they were fortunate they weren't blown out in the first 30 minutes of the game.

"We weren't getting the ball forward. We were moving very slowly," Hart said. "When they had the ball, we weren't putting enough pressure which allowed (Michael) Bradley and (Jermaine) Jones to move the ball freely."

It was a shockingly lethargic start for Canada considering the history of these two teams.

Canada was supposedly pumped by motivation and revenge. They remember 2007 when a perfectly good goal was ruled offside. It may have cost them a spot in the final.

Canada has had to watch its southern neighbour fly past them in terms of success and quality.

Yet none of what should have been bubbling drive or animus was evident.

Canada fell behind in the 14th minute when Jozie Altidore worked his way to the side of the six-yard box and fired a low shot that Canadian keeper Lars Hirschfeld bundled. Hirschfeld looked like a man attempting to catch fish with his bare hands.

The Americans kept coming and could have scored a couple of more.

But suddenly they eased off allowing the Canadians to find their legs Not that it mattered much. There was little of significance the Canadians did offensively until Clint Dempsey made it 2-0 in the second half.

The Canadians showed enough to veteran Dwayne De Rosario to consider the game a positive for Canada.

"I think the way we played, we can walk out with our heads up given we gave up two goals that on another day we should have kept out of the net," he said. "They are a good team and the way we competed in the field of play I thought we did very well. It was something to build on in the next game."

That game would be against Guadeloupe in Tampa on Saturday.

After building a 3-0 lead, Panama had to hang on against 10-man Guadeloupe for a 3-2 win in the opener for the other teams in Group C.

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