Analysis: USMNT battle past Canada in a shootout. Who impressed? Who didn't? Player ratings
July 10, 2023
THE UNITED STATES national team is into the semifinals of the 2023 Gold Cup thanks to shootout win over Canada following a 2-2 draw. Both teams had chances to win, the U.S. at the end of regulation and Canada at the end of extra time, but both surrendered late equalizers to force the game to a shootout. It was there where Matt Turner’s saves on the first two Canadian opportunities was the difference.
The game was often disjointed and sloppy while being intense at the same time. It wasn’t until substitute Brandon Vazquez headed home a wonderful ball from DeJuan Jones in the 88th minute when a scoreless draw was broken.
The lead would only last a few minutes into stoppage time when Canada equalized following a clumsy Miles Robinson handball. Steven Vitoria then stepped up on the ensuing penalty and fired a shot past Matt Turner to send the game into extra time.
Canada’s momentum continue into extra time and Nashville SC’s Jacob Shaffelburg put the Canadians up 2-1 when he got past Bryan Reynolds and hit a terrific shot past Turner. Shaffelburg is a native of Canada but has spent most of his key developmental years in the United States, attending high school in Massachusetts and then with Manhattan SC.
But the U.S. continued to press and got the equalizer after a hard shot by Gianluca Busio forced a save from Dayne St. Clair. But St. Clair’s save bounced outward and hit Canadian defender Scott Kennedy in the back. The ball then went backwards into the net for an own goal.
In the shootout, Turner again came up big. He saved Vitoria and Liam Fraser’s attempts in the first two rounds. For the U.S., Vazquez missed his attempt but then Cade Cowell, Gianluca Busio, and Jesus Ferreira all converted. In Canada fifth attempt, Chardles Brym’s hit the cross bar and bounced out to give the U.S. team the win.
The U.S. team will now head to San Diego for a semifinal matchup with Panama, who easily defeated Qatar 4-0.
This magic moment ???? pic.twitter.com/wxtHkkJQpI— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) July 10, 2023
Here are some thoughts on the game.
Commendable USMNT effort
The performance was overall sloppy. There were too many turnovers, and the U.S. team should have created more chances. But the effort level was overall impressive.
Canada brought a lot of intensity to this game, and it was obvious Canada sees the USMNT as an important measuring stick. It is like how the U.S. team viewed Mexico for most of the 90’s and the first part of the 00 decade.
But the U.S. team was able to match the intensity of the game from its end. The game got chippy, but the players had each other’s backs. When Canada had the momentum, the U.S. team did not crumble or let Canada run away with the game. The U.S. allowed two very tough goals, but found a way to rally.
Power move. ???? pic.twitter.com/kdmbMDstqP— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) July 10, 2023
For head coach B.J. Callaghan, he played the game well. Subbing Vazquezand Matt Miazga into the game in the 73rd minute was a big move. It gave the U.S. team upgrades in central defense and in the attack. Then it also added the emotional edge with the crowd as both players are beloved by FC Cincinnati.
Finally, with the U.S. now only having two days of rest before the semifinal, they’re both among the fresher options for that game while also being among the team’s better players.
A lot of struggles
The game was overall tough, and some players had performances that they won’t particularly want to remember.
In central defense, neither of the starters finished the game. Jalen Neal had a rough first half and had to be replaced in the 73rd minute by Miazga. Miles Robinson made two big errors. He was lucky to not have been called for a penalty in the first half after a handball. He was only bailed out when VAR showed that Busio was fouled just before the penalty. But then in stoppage time, Robinson had an unnecessary handball that was eventually called to award big penalty for Canada. If that didn’t happen, the U.S. wins this game before extra time.
Both the maligned Aaron Long and Miazga were upgrades.
Fullback play was also inconsistent. Bryan Reynolds had an off game. He was beaten by Shaffelburg, including on the goal and his attacks were unproductive – ending with turnovers or bad crosses. DeJuan Jones was better defensively, but until his terrific assist to Vazquez, the final ball was lacking.
Alejandro Zendejas is also another player who continues not to take advantage of his opportunity at the Gold Cup. He is frustrated and forcing plays. It is simply not coming together for him with the national team.
Julian Gressell can deliver from set pieces or only from the run of play if he has a lot of time and space. But thus far, hasn’t produced from the run of play. Jesus Ferreira drifted back into the midfield too often (as he typically does) and took himself out of the attack too often. Once Vazquez came into the game, the chances started to come with more regularity.
- Brandon Vazquez isn’t starting at the Gold Cup, but his stock is increasing and you can see why Borussia Monchengladbach wants him. As soon as he entered, the chances started coming and he put the U.S. team up with his third attempt.
- James Sands isn’t a player who is an eye-opener. He is the type of player you sometimes don’t even notice. But upon reflection after the games, you typically realize he played well. In this game and at this tournament, he won his duels, shielded the backline, didn’t turn the ball over much, and helped in possession. With central defense struggling in this game, Sands became more important and he did well.
- Gianluca Busio had an uneven game. He missed multiple very good chances to score. But eventually, he fought through it and forced an own goal equalizer and then took a wonderful penalty in the shootout. He was getting into good positions and was dangerous often. It could have been better, but the positives outweighed the negatives.
CAN: ???— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 10, 2023
USA: ??? pic.twitter.com/K39rDqCrWX
- DeJuan Jones: he used his athleticism well defensively while also being aggressive getting forward. It took him a lot of attempts to finally hit a dangerous ball, but his 88th minute assist was a thing of beauty. He has moved ahead of John Tolkin in the eyes of Callaghan and this performance will keep him in the XI.
- Matt Miazga: It’s not easy for a central defender to sub into a game and have to help fix a backline that was wobbly. But Miazga was the upgrade the U.S. team needed. Perhaps he could have done better on the Shaffelburg goal, but he was put into a tough decision after Reynolds was beaten.
- Cade Cowell: often inconsistent, but his speed and power was tough for Canada to handle and he was an upgrade from Zendejas.
- Matt Turner: He didn’t have to make a save in the 120 minutes but he once again tipped the balance of the game when everything was on the line in the shootout.
CAN: ? ?— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 10, 2023
USA: ? pic.twitter.com/MEtJHJUpaw
Panama is going to be a tough game for the U.S. team. Panama has an extra day rest and wasn’t tested much by Qatar.
Callaghan will have to face a lot of questions throughout the XI. Jalen Neal is now injured and we don’t yet know if Aidan Morris will be back.
Jones, Sands, Busio, and Ferreira are the four field players who went 120 minutes. Reynolds went 113 minutes.
Callaghan will probably have to turn to DeAndre Yedlin at right back while potentially looking at John Tolkin at left back. Matt Miazga will almost certainly start in central defense. But questions must be asked about Robinson’s performance and Long’s fitness/form.
Similarly, Sands and Busio in the midfield will be an issue of recovery. Particularly, with Busio, he hasn’t played much in 2023 and starting again 72 hours after a 120 minutes minute outing is tough. Jackson Yueill might be pressed into service or Cristian Roldan might get a rare starting nod.
Matt Turner: no saves over 120 minutes but then he made the difference in the shootout. Rating: 7.0
DeJuan Jones: Solid defensively. Distribution could have been better until his wonderful assist in the 88th minute. Rating: 6.5
Jalen Neal: Looked nervous and lost on a few occasions before being subbed out with an injury in the 73rd. Rating: 4.0
Miles Robinson: Had a tough assignment to partner with the young Neal. He conceded one penalty with a careless handball and was bailed out of second handball penalty violation. Rating: 4.5
Bryan Reynolds: Defensively he struggled with wingers and was beaten by Shaffelburg on the goal. But he also made a good play to bail out Neal’s first half slip. Offensively, it didn’t click for him in the final third. Rating: 5.0
James Sands: He did well as the glue of the midfield and was solid defensively in front of the defense. Rating: 7.0
Djordje Mihailovic: He was effective in the first half with his passing but a little quiet to start the second half. Rating: 6.0
Gianluca Busio: A little uneven because he needed a lot of chances before finally breaking through to force the 115th minute own goal. But he was dangerous, applied pressure, and was still going strong at 120 minutes. Nice conversion in the shootout too. Rating: 7.0
Alejandro Zendejas: It’s been a tough tournament for the Club America attacker and again he didn’t create much against Canada. But he made a few important defensive players that helped. Rating: 5.0
Julian Gressel: His setpieces were useful and he hit a few dangerous crosses but other than that, didn’t impact the game. Rating: 5.0
Jesus Ferreira: Managed just two shots over 120 minutes. He had a better impact when he moved to midfield when Vazquez came on in the 73rd. He helped keep up the pressure throughout but ran of gas – but he converted his shootout attempt. Rating: 5.5
Cade Cowell: Helped stretch the field and use space better than Zendejas. His final ball needs to lead to more chances, but he helped the U.S. team. Rating: 5.5
Brandon Vazquez: He started getting chances right away and he made Canada pay with what should have been the game-winner. But he was a handful. On the flip side, he failed to convert his penalty. Rating: 7.0
Matt Miazga: He was a nice upgrade in central defense after the starters were struggling. He could have done better on the Shaffelburg goal but he was put into a bad position. Overall, he was a big help to settle down the back. He helped in the build-up to the 115th minute own goal equalizer Rating: 6.5
Aaron Long: He was forced into the game for extra time. He completed 18/19 passes, including 3/3 long balls. Rating: 5.0
Jordan Morris: Played extra time but only had 8 touches in 30 minutes. He didn’t impact the game was clearly rusty from an injury layoff. Rating: 4.5
Cristian Roldan: Played the final 7 minutes and was on the field for the equalizer. Rating: NR