CONCACAF Gold Cup: USA Defeats Canada 2-0 In Their Opener
After using a less-than-full-strength squad in a 4-0 loss to world champion Spain on Saturday, the United States put out its best team Tuesday night at Ford Field in Detroit—and reaped the rewards.
Jozy Altidore scored the opening goal in the 15th minute and added a second-half assist as the United States opened its Gold Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory over Canada.
"I think it’s a good start," United States coach Bob Bradley said of his team's win. "We expected a tough match because this is a good Canadian team. When you get into a tournament you need to keep growing. There are some good staring points and things for us to build on."
Bolstered by the return of midfielders Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey to the starting lineup, the Americans dominated possession early on.
Captain Carlos Bocanegra nearly opened the scoring in the 11th minute, when he deflected Michael Bradley's shot wide of the open net from six yards away.
Altidore put the Americans ahead four minutes later. Donovan slipped a midfield pass between two Canadian defenders and into Altidore’s path. The 21-year-old forward spun around defender Kevin McKenna and fired a low hard shot on goal. Canadian goalkeeper Lars Hirschfield should have been able to stop the shot, but the ball bounced off his hand and into the net.
The United States continued to control the rhythm of the match, with Michael Bradley forming a solid partnership in the center of the midfield with defensive-minded Jermaine Jones.
Dwayne De Rosario almost singlehandedly grabbed an equalizer for the Canucks in the 33rd minute. The New York Red Bulls forward found himself in space 30 yards from goal and unleashed a curling shot that went just wide of the diving goalkeeper Tim Howard's far post.
De Rosario's club teammate, 18-year-old American forward Juan Agudelo, responded with a 40th minute shot on goal at the other end of the pitch. Agudelo’s shot deflected off defender André Hainault, forcing a diving Hirschfield to lean back and push the ball wide of the post.
Down 1-0 at the break, Canada looked more comfortable in possession in the second half and midfielder Will Johnson began to create some problems for the American defenders.
Canada couldn’t capitalize, though, and the United States grabbed the clincher in the 62nd minute. Altidore sent in a low cross from the right flank that a lunging Agudelo failed to get to in the center of the box. Dempsey, sliding in at the far post, did connect, and snuck his shot inside the near post for the 2-0 lead.
The Canucks brought forwards Ali Gerba and Rob Friend on as second half substitutes, and they added much needed bite to the team’s attack.
Gerba received the ball in the 70th minute and hit a one-time shot that a flying Howard tipped over the crossbar.
"It's unbelievable. It's Timmy being Timmy," American defender Tim Ream said about his goalkeeper. "He comes up with big saves when he has to."
News and Notes
- Panama scored the game's three opening goals and held on late to win its group opener 3-2 over Guadeloupe. Blas Pérez and Luis Tejada scored in the 29th and 31st minutes respectively, and Gabriel Enrique Gómez added a penalty kick goal in the 57th. Despite being reduced to ten men after a first half red card, Guadeloupe nearly grabbed a surprise late draw. Brice Jovial scored goals in the 65th and 78th minutes to close the gap.
- The United States will be in action again on Saturday night, when they take on Panama at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. Canada will play Guadeloupe as part of the Group C doubleheader.
- One of the highlights of the match was Dempsey's attempt at a "scorpion kick" goal in the 60th minute. Popularized by Colombian goalkeeper René Higuita, the scorpion kick calls for a player to launch himself parallel into the air and arch his legs backward, using the back of his heels to kick the ball toward goal. Dempsey's attempt was blocked out of bounds for a corner kick, but the effort drew a loud cheer from the Ford Field crowd.