Canada Falls Short In Lackluster Performance Against USA in Concacaf Nations League Final
Canada was oh so close to winning an international cup for the first time in 23 years – last winning the Gold Cup back in 2000 – but ultimately fell short, losing 2-0 to the home team in Las Vegas.
Despite finishing the night with 36% possession and missing both Weston McKinnie and Sergino Dest to suspension, the US got goals from Chris Richards and Folarin Balogun.
“I think they are athletic and organized”, Canada head coach John Herdman said when talking about the opponents tonight. “They coped well with defending. At times we didn’t cross early tonight, and when we did we didn’t have the numbers in the box.”
Herdman made two changes that most likely made a huge impact on the game, placing Tajon Buchanan and Sam Adekugbe on the bench in favour of Scott Kennedy and Jonathan Osorio getting starts.
“It’s a similar feel to the World Cup. We are not in that killer area, but I thought they had some good moments tonight.”
Sam Adekugbe looked solid in the first game against Panama while Buchanan is a young player that can dictate play and energy. His placement on the bench seemed to be a head-scratcher for the media and fans.
“We didn’t capitalize on big moments. I think if we had it would be a different game,” continued Herdman.
The first shot of the match came in the 3rd minute as Gio Reyna got a solid pass from Timothy Weah, who managed to get a shot on target but Milan Borjan made his first save of the night.
Five minutes later Cyle Larin had a chance when Ismael Kone found him in the box, but he was denied by American keeper Matt Turner.
“I thought Canada was right there tonight. The US had a lot coming off the bench, we saw the impact and we wanted that balance.”
The US opened the scoring in the 12th minute when off a corner Gio Reyna found Chris Richards for the header into the back of the net, delighting the home crowd.
In the 34th minute, Folarin Balogun scored the insurance goal when he got set up by Reyna and beat Borjan to make it 2-0. That was all the US needed.
In his post-game press conference, Herdman was bluntly asked if he felt his team was underprepared tonight, only having four days to prepare while the other teams had two weeks.
“Tactically we were well prepared and organized. We looked good tonight. I thought we broke lines on a number of occasions and we forced them to play direct.”
“We didn’t anticipate their style of play and there were moments where Canda was right there and the US was unbelievable on set pieces and the timing and variety were difficult to deal with.”
It seemed like Canada was lacking in the final third and finishing and the majority of the time had chances to shoot the ball but didn’t, making one pass too many which ended up deflected or out of bounds.
“You don’t have the days to do it against a team quality-wise that is ahead of you, and you can see the preparation that the US had. It made a big difference.”
“We lack the resources and we need a window where I can properly set up a camp and work on these things that make the biggest difference moving forward, so those resources are key.”
Herdman was asked about the difference between tonight’s game and the one in World Cup qualifying in Hamilton last January.
“They scored the first goal and we didn’t, and that changed things – so it felt like a similar performance tonight. They managed the game and this team won multiple tournaments and multiple trophies. They won the trophy, and that’s all that matters.”
Canadian veteran Atiba Hutchinson, who announced that the game against the US would be his last, didn’t even make it onto the pitch and will now go into retirement.
Herdman was also asked bluntly what it’s going to take for Canada to lift a trophy.
“It’s more preparation and the time dedicated to that type of work, and good windows over a two-year period. The country has to help us prepare for a home World Cup.”
“We have shown time and time again that we can compete with the best in the world. It’s very close and it’s the preparation that goes in and it’s the time with the guys and the competition.”
Herdman confirmed that he feels Canada Soccer are not in a good place financially, and that is something that is playing against them.
“It’s that preparation and it’s that period which costs a lot of money to get things put together for these windows. It’s not a secret the federation has been suffering financially.”
“Even through World Cup qualifying, your head coach is raising money to make sure we got charter flights. We got the best generation and there’s more coming, and support wise we’ve got to figure it out financially. We’ve got to get serious about winning the World Cup, and were not serious about winning it.”
Canada will now focus its attention on the 2023 Gold Cup. Their first match will be at home on June 27th at BMO against a team to be determined.