Well we’ve witnessed a couple starkly mixed results as we head into game three of Klisny’s “five game tournament,” or as we at TYAC call it, “The Curious Case of the Kljestan Exclusion: Part One Million”. We jest. But “The American Fan Longs For A Guy Whose Ripped Up His Knee A Couple Times- The Stu Holden Story” might work after Wednesday… Let’s get right into it.
The Series: This is the 31st Meeting between the United States and the friendly neighbors from the North. The Yanks lead the all-time series, 13-8-9. Interestingly, this is the first meeting in Toronto since 1968. More interestingly, the last senior team Canada win over the U.S. occurred during the Reagan Administration—a 2-0 Canadian victory in Vancouver in 1985. Of course, given that Canada’s U-23’s notched their first victory over the US in 20 years at that level at Olympic Qualifying in Nashville– the senior team might not want to fall asleep at the wheel.
Where to Watch: NBC Sports Network, which met with fine reviews for their production Saturday night from Jacksonville, will broadcast the match at 7:00 P.M. Sunday evening.
Weather: This could always change, but right now, forecasts suggest the temperature will be around 54 degrees and there will be a light drizzle over BMO Field when toe meets sphere.
Our Favored Eleven When Toe Meets Leather:
D: Johnson- Bocanegra (c)- Parkhurst- Cherundolo
Wing: Dempsey, Donovan
CAVEAT: We do think Herculez Gomez merits another start, but if Jozy is match-fit, why not give him a look so as to see all of your options PRIOR to beginning the qualifying campaign? Altidore’s a different player than Gomez anyway– Herculez is a bit of a poacher/direct goal scorer, Altidore remains a target forward who oh-by-the-way can score, and it will take more than one nice year abroad to change our view on that question.
CAVEAT 2: Parkhurst is the option in the back less because of our distrust of Geoff Cameron and more because we think that in the back, like at forward, it can’t hurt Klinsmann to look at all his options. Onyewu would be a shocking selection.
What to watch for from the Yanks:
The sky is not falling, and I think Jurgen Klinsmann and the players know that. The 4-1 loss to Brazil did not negate all of the encouragement that came out of the 5-1 drubbing of Scotland. You can even make a strong argument that the USMNT deserved another goal or two against Brazil. You can make a decidedly weaker argument that they didn’t deserve to give up the four goals in the first place. I won’t make that argument, but if you’re an optimist, go ahead.
I expect the Yanks to come out and try to play the game they played against Scotland. They tried to do it against Brazil too, and even had a small degree of success at times, but there are a lot of qualifiers on that statement. It will be very interesting to see if we get the winger tandem of Dempsey and Landon to start the match. Also look for Brad Guzan to get his first starting nod in what seems like forever, as a 20 minute cameo in Jacksonville isn’t really how you hope to get your number two ready for World Cup qualifying.
What will we see out of Canada?
You know what we’re going to see out of Canada. They’ve been selecting the same core group of players for the past couple years, and they’re still coached by Stephen “King of Donair” Hart.
Canada will play through their talented wingers Will Johnson and Josh Simpson, while hoping that speedy forward Simeon Jackson can find some space up top. They’ll look for Dwayne De Rosario to turn the key in between the Yanks’ back line and their “traditional clean-up six,” probably played again by Maurice Edu. Will Johnson is a guy we really like at the TYAC offices. He’s responsible in his defensive duties, calm and composed on the ball, and can deliver a brilliant ball to the box from time to time– EG–check out his pass to Emilio Bonfigli against FC Dallas last month, which led to a critical equalizer. Johnson had some success unlocking the American defense last summer, and he’ll be tasked to do the same against a Yanks backline that had been splendid in 2012 before conceding FOUR times Wednesday evening.
As for the (now) Dean of CONCACAF coaches, the long-tenured Hart is well into his process of slowly turning around the national team. He’s not exactly reinventing the wheel north of the border, but that is fine as long as results continue to improve. It’s been 27 years and a controversial Gold Cup knockout match (seriously, the Canadians have every right to claim this was a robbery) since the Canadians managed a result against the U.S. That may change in Toronto. If Hart’s “negative tactics” get him a result this weekend I may have to start calling him Canadian Bobbo. That’ll bring his TYAC nickname count to two, not a bad start going into World Cup qualifying.
Canadian Player to Watch: Dwayne De Rosario
Selecting DeRo as the opposing player to watch doesn’t take a ton of creativity, but Canada’s all time leading scorer is due to finally make the US pay. Of his nineteen senior level goals for Les Rouges, not one has come against The States. And that’s not because De Rosario hasn’t played well, he’s just always the main point of emphasis for the American defense. Focal point or no, he is entering the match fresh off being named the MLS Player of the Month for May, when he scored four times and tallied a pair of assists, and he’s on fire early in the campaign, with five goals and eight assists thus far. Assists are the new goals, and stuff, and people get excited about them, so when you have eight for DC United, you get (and deserve) a good amount of love.
So what’s going to change?
Well, nothing. Except maybe his results. Dwayne De Rosario’s been the main priority for opposing MLS defenders for a decade, yet he keeps finding enough space to consistently score goals and create excellent opportunities for his teammates. And while the USMNT backline generally adheres to a higher standard than that of any one MLS club, they’re bound to falter under the weight of DeRo’s heavy boots at some point. I know I’d rather see that happen in a friendly than a World Cup qualifier. And the reigning MLS MVP and Player of the Month is currently on form to say the least. Maybe some good will even come from a DeRo goal against the US. Like, maybe he undresses Edgar Castillo on the way to goal, giving the left back a third (seventh) strike and barring him from further USMNT selection.
US Player to Watch: Jozy Altidore
What’s that 80’s song? Josie’s on a Vacation Far Away... well– US fans have alternate lyrics, or they should: Jozy had a great season far away– time to see if it carries over. It’s time to get the real starting target forward a start before qualifying kicks off. It’s also time to get really excited about Jozy for the first time in a long time. As much as playing in Italy has led to an obvious growth in Michael Bradley’s game, it would seem that Jozy’s current stint at AZ has led to a quantum leap in his play. If that leap can translate out of Holland and the Europa League and into the USMNT, we may be looking at a guy who’s actually realizing his massive physical potential, and for the Yanks! At forward! What a novel concept. Rooting for Jozy to be a revelation in Toronto and beyond.
Prediction: Canada 1 – 3 USA
The team gets back on horse and makes good use of this tune up. Goals from Dempsey, Altidore, and probably De Rosario.
Enjoy the match, and Go USA!
Jon Levy is Co-Founder of The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at email@example.com and you can and should follow him on Twitter at @TYAC_Jon. He has appeared on the Sports Illustrated Soccer Podcast as a Featured Guest, and has received awards for Excellence in Sports Journalism during his time at the University of Florida.