Border Bore: Yanks Score After 89 Minutes of Futility
February 05, 2016
THE JERMAINE JONES AT CENTERBACK experiment returned. Lee Nguyen and Mix Diskerud both started, giving the Yanks one of the most offensive-minded midfields it had seen in years. And the speedy Seattle Sounder Jordan Morris got the nod at the tip of the spear, providing American supporters a glimpse at one of its most exciting prospects.
Full credit to Jurgen Klinsmann: He did his part trying to generate interest in yet another ho-hum U.S.-Canada friendly.
To no avail.
In front of an embarrassingly small—and seemingly dispirited—crowd at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., both the United States and Canada failed to create a goal over the course of 89 minutes.
Substitute Ethan Finlay, who came on in the 88th minute, proved to be the difference-maker, creating space on the left wing and then delivering a pinpoint cross to Jozy Altidore, who headed the ball home for the decisive goal.
Sound exciting? It wasn't.
Four of the last eight meetings between these two teams ended in scoreless draws, including the 2012 and 2013 editions. It's not a rivalry. The matchup doesn't inspire American fans. But for some reason the U.S. Soccer Federation keeps looking north as it fills out its schedule.
For what it's worth, the Jones experiment failed again—he kept pushing forward and plays with too much reckless abandon to be a trustworthy defender. Nguyen and Diskerud did not shine in the midfield, leaving the door wide open for other candidates. And Morris looked positively ordinary, flubbing a few chances and disappointing during this big opportunity.
Nothing much of interest happened over the opening 45 minutes. Sloppy passing and disjointed movement plagued both sides. Yes, Altidore hit the upright in the 17th minute with a right-footed shot, but his attempt came from a sharp angle and Canadian goalkeeper Maxine Crepeau had it covered the whole time. Steve Birnbaum's 26th-minute header was never going to go in. In the 38th minute, Altidore lofted a clever ball forward to a streaking Morris, but the former Stanford striker couldn't direct the ball on net.
The score at halftime: 0-0.
After a few minutes of settling in, the second half got off to a promising start. The Yanks had three rapid-fire chances around the 54-minute mark, but Morris and Altidore came up short on their half-chances and the scorekeeper's irrelevance persisted.
At the one-hour mark Klinsmann took Nguyen and Gyasi Zardes off and called on Darlington Nagbe and Jerome Kiesewetter.
Kiesewetter placed a nice cross right at Altidore's forehead, approximately eight yards in front of Canada's goal. The veteran striker didn't nod the ball left or right; he shot it straight down, and it bounced harmlessly into the goalkeeper's hands.
Left back sub (and debutant) Brandon Vincent had a clear chance in the 70th minute but his left-footed shot flew straight at the keeper as an exasperated Morris lifted his hands into the air.
But then Finlay came on and made the most of his only real opportunity. The Columbus Crew winger got off to a strong start against Iceland on Sunday, but faded late. Against Canada he came on late and delivered the sort of ball that Altidore could not have missed if he tried.
Final score: United States 1, Canada 0.
But fans of compelling soccer were the real losers Friday night.
John Godfrey is the founder and editor in Chief of American Soccer Now.