The Canadian men found their way back into the game after Shaq Moore’s opening goal, but failed to break through the American defense despite having the advantage as the game progressed.
With both teams already qualified for the quarter-finals, the sold-out match at Children’s Mercy Park decided first place in Group B. The North American rivals entered the match with the same goal difference, but the Canada, 70th in the standings, had scored one more goal, meaning the 20th-ranked Americans had to win to finish first while the Canadians only needed a draw.
Canada entered the game 8-0-0 in 2021, mostly outscoring their smaller opponents 39-3, with their last loss coming in January 2020, a 1-0 loss to Iceland. But the United States represented a significant increase in the degree of difficulty.
It was a disastrous start for Canada, who conceded 20 seconds. Canada failed to win multiple duels in their own side and Sebastian Lletget, given plenty of left flank space, sent a low cross that eluded goaltender Max Crepeau and set Moore up for a tap-in at the far post. It was his first goal in his eight appearances in the United States.
Moore, who plays for Tenerife in Spain, was the only non-MLS starter for the United States
US Soccer said it was the fastest goal in US men’s national team history, at least since 1989, when “consistent time records” began to be held.
As the winner of Group B, the United States faces runner-up in Group C in the quarter-finals. That means taking on No.45 Jamaica or No.50 Costa Rica, who meet on Tuesday to decide the squad.
Canada, as Group B runners-up, find themselves in the bottom half of the draw, which could count Mexico No.11 if they win Group A. But the Mexicans do so, thanks to a scoreless draw with No.103 Trinidad and Tobago, had to beat No.69 El Salvador later on Sunday.
Canada lost Ayo Akinola in the 24th minute and compatriot Cyle Larin in the 53rd, both to injury.
Akinola, who was making his first start and second appearance for Canada since changing allegiance from the United States, was unable to continue after his knee appeared to twist during a challenge with James Sands . Larin, who had scored five goals in his previous four matches, came out in the 53rd after losing.
The Americans entered the game with a 15-9-11 advantage in the all-time series, which dates back to a Canadian 1-0 victory in Montreal in June 1925.
Canada has been 1-10-8 against the Americans since 1985.
The only Canadian victory in recent times came in October 2019, a 2-0 triumph in Toronto in the CONCACAF Nations League. The Americans won the rematch the following month 4-1 in Orlando.
Lletget and Gyasi Zardes were the only two American starters in this Orlando win to feature in Saturday’s starting 11. Steven Vitoria, Samuel Piette and Richie Laryea started in both games for Canada.
Prior to Sunday, the Canadians were 1-12-9 in games against the United States on American soil, with the only victory in July 1957, a 3-2 victory in St. Louis in a game. qualification for the World Cup.
The United States kept the pressure on after shocking Canada with the opening goal, dominating possession until the Canadians found their way into the end of the half, stringing together the assists.
Canada unsuccessfully appealed for a ninth-minute penalty when Laryea and Walker Zimmerman became entangled in the penalty area as Laryea tried to get around the US captain, who lost his balance as the two players attempted to push back.
“How is that not a penalty?” not even a free kick, ”tweeted injured Canadian star Alphonso Davies.
Mexican referee Adonai Escobedo saw it differently.
Zimmerman was injured on the play and was replaced by Donovan Pines in the 15th minute.
Kamal Miller made a life-saving tackle to prevent American striker Daryl Dike from entering alone in the 30th minute after a loose pass from Alistair Johnston.
Defender Sam Vines saved the United States in the first-half stoppage, putting one foot on the ball before Johnston could make it at the far post.
Canada came out strong in the second half, with Matt Turner making saves against Larin and Tajon Buchanan in the opening two minutes. Buchanan’s speed and dribbling ability caused problems for his opponents throughout the tournament.
Buchanan narrowly missed in the 79th minute, folding his shot just off the goal post.
Canada’s coach John Herdman called it a “derby game,” but admitted next weekend’s quarter-finals were on his mind.
“At the end of the day, to get to the Gold Cup final you have to win two more matches after that,” Herdman said before the match. “It’s an important game, I think, for the fans, for the players. But overall, as a head coach you have to watch the next game with a keen eye.
“You can’t predict too far. But what I do know is that I want my best group of players, the most talented group available for this quarterfinal. It’s a critical game for Canada. “
Sunday’s game was the precursor to a meeting in Nashville on September 5 in the final round of World Cup qualifying in the region that spans North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Canada will welcome the Americans on January 30 as the so-called octagonal continues.
Both teams have brought young teams to the Gold Cup, with many of their star players with their clubs or injured.
Herdman made five changes to the starting lineup that beat Haiti, along with Laryea, Piette, Akinola, Liam Fraser and Junior Hoilett. Influential midfielder Stephen Eustaquio, who scored in each of the 4-1 wins against Martinique and Haiti, has been suspended.
Vitoria, Fraser and Johnston were all on a yellow card, meaning a second warning would result in a suspension. Lucas Cavallini and Mark-Anthony Kaye, also on yellow cards, fell on the bench.
US coach Gregg Berhalter made four changes from the starting 11 who beat Martinique 6-1, adding experience in the form of Kellyn Acosta (33 caps before the game), Lletget (25) and Zardes (58). Vines has also returned to its fourth selection.
The starting eleven Canadians had 195 caps at the start of the game, with Piette (55), Larin (39) and Hoilett (33) counting for 127. The American starters had a combined cap count of 160.