June 3, 2012
Canada holds U.S. to scoreless draw
By Kurtis Larson, QMI Agency
TORONTO - That’ll do.
In its only test before kicking off a critical two weeks, Canada held the U.S. to a goalless draw Sunday night at BMO Field.
After a lopsided defeat saw Canada fall 2-0 to the Americans during last summer’s Gold Cup, head coach Stephen Hart will use the result as a measuring stick ahead of CONCACAF’s third round of World Cup qualifying Friday afternoon in Havana, Cuba.
“(Tonight) we were way more patient,” Hart said in comparing the two matches. “We showed better organization and discipline as a unit and played for each other.”
Dictating much of the opening, the Americans had their best chance of the first half three minutes after the start off a corner. With Canada struggling to find a way into the match, the restart found its way to the back post where an unmarked Clarence Goodson missed over the bar from metres out.
Despite strolling through the opening 10 minutes with the ball on a string, as Hart set the Canadians up in a defensive 4-5-1, the Americans were out of ideas in the attacking third, regularly turning over possession and allowing Canada to advance on the counter.
Dwayne De Rosario provided Canada its best chance against the run of play on 10 minutes when Kevin McKenna’s header caught the U.S. defence clearing their lines. The D.C. United attacker slipped behind the American defence before cutting inside and playing a low drive that just missed Olivier Occean, who was sliding in at the back post.
“You can see there’s still a bit of miscommunication and misunderstanding on the attacking side of things,” De Rosario said. “Those things come with the lack of playing together, but hopefully after this game we have a better understanding of each other moving forward.”
Exchanging half-chances inside the first quarter-hour, American left back Edgar Castillo had a go from distance that nearly caught Canada’s Lars Hirschfeld off his line. After a Canadian clearance off a corner, Hirschfeld pushed Castillo’s dipping full-volley over the bar to help the Reds survive what was a big discrepancy in possession in the early stages.
Earning a surprise start in place of Simeon Jackson, Tosaint Ricketts showed why he’s poised to be a fixture in Hart’s lineup throughout the upcoming qualifying campaign.
The first of a number dangerous moments the Edmonton native provided on the night, after the U.S. defence failed to deal with a long throw-in inside the box, Ricketts’ poke metres from goal nearly slipped by ’keeper Tim Howard at the near post.
“I thought we did well and could have taken the game,” Ricketts said. “It’s a good result and good preparation for Cuba. We came into this game wanting to keep good shape because that’s the most important thing … We came out and did our jobs.”
Nik Ledgerwood thought he had given Canada a 1-0 lead in the 34th minute after latching onto a pass at the corner of the area following a mistake deep in the U.S. end. In alone on Howard, Ledgerwood roofed a shot over Howard’s right shoulder before having the goal waved off for an errant foul just before the play to keep things scoreless at the half.
“I didn’t see anything,” Ledgerwood said of the phantom call. “It was a tackle from David Edgar that was kind of late. I didn’t see anything, but that happens.”
With the U.S. playing its third exhibition in eight days, Canada pressed a stretched U.S. side right after the break with Ricketts flying up the wing after beating Castillo in the 50th minute. Ricketts’ cross came inches from connecting with Occean at the near post.
Canada had two more chances in the 65th and 68th minutes when a failed U.S. clearance fell perfectly to Ledgerwood, whose attempt from the top of the area called Howard into action. Then, on as a second-half replacement, Simeon Jackson found space in front of the American back four and came close to chipping Howard from 20 metres.
The Canadian defensive unit of Ante Jazic, Andre Hainault, Kevin McKenna and David Edgar did well to hold off a dangerous U.S. attack during the second half as big names like Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey were non-factors throughout – something U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann chalked up to fatigue.
“I think the first half was OK,” Klinsmann said. “(Our) game on Wednesday (against Brazil) cost a lot of energy. (We) were chasing the game almost the whole game because we got down (early in that game).”
The two sides exchanged golden opportunities in stoppage time.
The Reds should have found a winner after De Rosario danced into the area before driving a low ball across the frame of goal. Failing to react to the firmly struck cross, Jackson couldn’t redirect the ball on goal.
With 30 seconds remaining, Hirschfeld robbed a Clarence Goodson header at the death to preserve the surprise result during the final World Cup qualifying tuneup for both sides.
“We need to score,” Hart said of what the team needs to do in Cuba. “We will continue to work on certain things. I thought we were a little bit hasty on the counter-attack … We have to be cleaner on the counter attack.”
Last night was a step in the right direction.