Usmnt_-_asn_top_-__isi_-_celebrate_zardes_goal_vs_canada_-_11-15-19_-_roy_miller Roy K. Miller/ISI Photos
USMNT analysis

USMNT shows improvement in 4-1 win over Canada in Orlando

The USMNT defeated Canada in a performance on Friday night that was decent, but not great. Gyasi Zardes, Jordan Morris, and John Brooks all had important performances. But the big story was that Sergino Dest was formally cap-ties to the U.S. team. ASN's Brian Sciaretta is here with a report.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
November 14, 2019
5:00 AM
THE UNITED STATES national team did not have a great outing against Canada on Friday night in Orlando, but it did enough to earn a 4-1 victory and ensure that a victory over Cuba on Tuesday will send the team through to the Nation’s League semifinal in June.

But no matter what way you look at it, the effort was dramatically improved from last month where the team was beaten by Canada 2-0 in Toronto. The U.S. team, while sloppy, played with noticeably more fight and desire that it had in recent months.

But one of the biggest moments in the game came at the opening whistle when Sergino Dest became formally cap-tied to the United States. The Duch-born fullback sat last out international window to decide which national team he wanted to represent. But after declaring that he wanted to play for the U.S. team in October, it was formalized in Orlando.

The U.S. team came into this game needing a win and it eased pressure with an early goal from Jordan Morris. On corner, the ball bounced to Dest in the box and sent it towards goal where Jordan Morris collected it and fired it home for a 1-0 lead in the 3rd minute.

Then in the 23rd minute, the U.S. had its best goal of the game when Dest sprung Paul Arriola up the right wing. The DC United winger sent a perfect ball to Morris on the far side of the box. Morris’ touch was too heavy but he was able to get to the ball to cross to Gyasi Zardes for a short-range header.

Then in the 34th minute, the U.S. took its lead to 3-0 when Tim Ream hit a free kick into the box which was headed home by Aaron Long.

In the second half, the U.S. team took its foot off the gas pedal and the game became a lot slower. The overall quality dropped over final 45 minutes. Canada pulled one back in the 72nd minute when a corner kick was flicked on and headed home from close range by Steven Vitoria.

In the 89th minute, Zardes bagged his second goal of the game when substitute DeAndre Yedlin hustled to get a cross into the box just before it crossed the endline. His cross tried to find Weston McKennie but it rolled out to Zardes who hit a well-placed shot to the far post.

The final whistle was sounded and the U.S. team had its second win of the Nations League tournament and will head to the Cayman Islands to take on Cuba, needing a win.

Here are some thoughts on the game

USMNT still needs lots of work

The U.S. team did not play well and Canada played even worse. The overall quality of the game wasn’t great. But the U.S. team played hard and with the “desire” that Gregg Berhalter said was lacking last month in Toronto. In that sense, it was a performance to build off of.

There were still too many turnovers in the middle of the field and the team struggled to play out of the back. Canada controlled the possession edge for long stretches once the U.S. team was more conservative after getting out in front by multiple goals. 

But the difference was the hard work and the big plays the U.S. team was able to make. Whether it was Paul Arriola’s superb pass to Morris on the first goal from Gyasi Zardes, or John Brooks’ emergency defending, or Aaron Long’s header. The U.S. team stepped up at the right times.

Morris’ big year continues

Jordan Morris, 25, has had a great year. After missing nearly all of 2018, Morris was a difference maker on a very Seattle Sounders team which won MLS Cup last week. It is the second title for Morris since he turned professional in 2016.

But on the national team, Morris has been making regular positive impacts in games. Even when the U.S. team has lost, Morris has done fairly well. He nearly scored against Mexico in the Gold Cup final and drew a penalty in follow-up friendly vs. El Tri in New Jersey. So far in 2019, Morris has three goals and is easily the team’s starting winger.

When Morris made the decision to sign with Seattle in 2016, he had interest from Werder Bremen. But after having won two titles for his hometown team, perhaps that will encourage Morris to move abroad now that he has won everything the league has to offer (and is now fully healthy).

Brooks was key

John Brooks has suffered a lot of injuries over the years and this has limited his minutes with the U.S. team. But Brooks made a rare appearance on Friday night and was immense. His physicality and size was very useful against Canada’s impressive attack that features Jonathan David and Alphonso Davis.

It’s a big “if” but if Brooks is healthy, the dynamic of the U.S. team changes and opponents have a more difficult time attacking up the middle.

Cap-tied Dest

There were several moments when Sergino Dest showed some incredible talent in his ability to get beyond defenders. He also didn’t make that many mistakes defensively.

Canada’s attack was loaded with quality players and Dest prioritized defense and only got into the attack in selective occassions. But his quality was apparent.

Zardes was effective

This game was the most effective Gyasi Zardes has looked for the national team since the 2016 Copa America. It wasn’t just his two goals either, his movement and passing was generally effective when the U.S. team had possession.

If Zardes did not play well, it would have looked poorly on Berhalter for having started Zardes over Josh Sargent – who plays regularly for Werder Bremen. But Zardes played well and perhaps it only motivates Sargent even more to raise his game.

This doesn’t mean Zardes has improved his weaknesses or won’t struggle again. Sargent will get more opportunities soon and Jozy Altidore will also get more chances when he is healthy. But Zardes delivered a big performance when he was asked.

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