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Canada end 34-year winless streak against US

Berhalter tenure as American coach starting to draw criticism

US defender Aaron Long (23) and Canada forward Junior Hoilett (10) vie for the ball during the second half of a CONCACAF Nations League soccer match on Oct 15 in Toronto. (AP)

TORONTO, Oct 16, (AP): The
US keep coming up with underwhelming performances in their first year under
Gregg Berhalter, whose tenure as American coach is starting to draw criticism.

Canada beat the United States for
the first time in 34 years, getting second-half goals from Alphonso Davies and
Lucas Cavallini in a 2-0 victory over the listless Americans on Tuesday night
in the CONCACAF Nations League.

A little over two years after the
Americans failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup by losing at Trinidad and
Tobago, they saw their 17-match unbeaten streak against their northern neighbor
come to an end. They had not even allowed a goal to the Canadians in four
previous matches dating to 2007.

“The first thing that stands out
to me is desire, the desire of Canada,” Berhalter said. “Give them credit, but
having said that, the minimum we expect is to match that. We need to compete on
every single play in games like that, and that’s important. I don’t think it
was lack of effort, I don’t think it was purposeful, but I wasn’t happy with
the desire that we displayed.

The US already had lost to Mexico
in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final in July, the first competitive tournament after
Berhalter was hired last December and tasked with rebuilding the program. Just
11 months remain before the start of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

Canada went ahead in the 63rd
minute after Scott Arfield dispossessed Michael Bradley on the edge of the center
circle. After several passes, US captain Tim Ream made a poor clearance. The
ball was played back toward the American goal, and Arfield’s low cross went
across the goalmouth. Davies got behind DeAndre Yedlin and Aaron Long,
redirecting the ball in.

“What stands out to me is just
the sloppiness with the ball,” Berhalter said. “Too many miscontrolled touches,
too many missed passes, too many easy things that we normally make that we
weren’t making tonight.”

Jonathan Osorio lifted the ball
behind the American defense in the first minute of stoppage time. Cavallini
allowed the ball to bounce twice and beat Steffen to the near post with a
right-footed shot from 12 yards.

“We didn’t have the same energy
that they did,” star American midfielder Christian Pulisic said. “That’s very
disappointing. That’s the one thing that we can control and we weren’t able to
tonight.”

Pulisic had a point-blank shot
saved by goalkeeper Milan Borjan in the 51st minute.

“I should have scored no
problem,” Pulisic said. “That’s on me. Just wasn’t my day, I guess.”

Pulisic was replaced by Paul
Arriola in the 60th minute. Berhalter said Pulisic has been suffering from
flu-like symptoms and a “light fever.”

“He wanted to continue,”
Berhalter said. “You could see the disappointment in his face.”

The 21st-ranked US, coming off
last week’s opening 7-0 home rout of Cuba, had nine wins and eight draws
against Canada since a 2-0 exhibition defeat at Vancouver, British Columbia, in
April 1985.

Canada, ranked 75th, are trying
to climb past No. 72 El Salvador and into the top six in the region in FIFA
rankings. The June 2020 rankings will be used to determine the nations in the
hexagonal will produce the three direct qualifiers from the North and Central
American and Caribbean region for the 2022 World Cup.

Davies, an 18-year-old budding
star, said he felt “millions of emotions running through me on that goal.”

“They
treated it like it was a cup final,” Bradley said. “They stepped up harder,
they reacted quicker to every loose ball. In all the little ways in a game like
that, they were on top of things. We’re disappointed with ourselves that we
couldn’t do more in terms of better reactions, stepping up harder, coming away
with little plays in different parts of the field that make a bigger difference.”

The US and Canada meet again Nov
15 in Orlando, Florida, and the US face Cuba four days later in George Town,
Cayman Islands.

“We’ve got to respond in a strong
way,” Bradley said.

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