The year 2016 got off to a good start for the USMNT with a 3-2 victory over Iceland. A last minute winner from Steve Birnbaum capped off an entertaining game. Now the US must turn their focus to the next game as they look to close the January Camp on a high note against Canada.
Sunday’s win over Iceland was not the best performance from the US, but after the way 2015 played out most fans and coach Jurgen Klinsmann will take the win. A number of players stood out with Birnbaum the hero, but also guys like Lee Nguyen, Kellyn Acosta, Jerome Kiesewetter and Jordan Morris. Jozy Altidore got a goal and it is hoped that goal boosts his confidence and that he can really get it going (that sounds familiar). Gyasi Zardes was a disappointment while Luis Robles did not have too much to do, save for one save he made that was shot right at him.
Like their European counterparts who are using February’s international friendlies to to prepare for Euro 2016, the US also has Copa America 2016 to look forward to in the summer, especially as it hosts the event. However, with Klinsmann and US Soccer in general tied into the four-year World Cup cycle, this fixture, like the summer tournament, will only be a ‘building’ process.
Canada come into this game having had a good, not great, 2015. They were held scoreless at the Gold Cup (for the second tournament in a row) but did well in World Cup Qualifying, where they currently sit second in Group A behind Mexico. Canada has lost only once in their last thirteen games. What’s more is that in 2015 they finally played some games at home (four of them, the most in any one year since 2012) and were unbeaten at home. Benito Floro seems to have finally gotten the fan base excited and have reportedly sold more than 30,000 tickets to their next home qualifier against Mexico in Vancouver. The roster for this game is, like the US roster, a mix of youth and veterans. Reigning MLS Rookie of the Year Cyle Larin is there along with fellow youngster Tesho Akindele. Among the more senior players are 34-year-old Julian de Guzman and 32 year old Iain Hume who plays his club soccer in India.
- On Tuesday, Brad Evans and Michael Orozco-Fiscal were sent home from the US camp, Evans with hamstring tightness and Fiscal as part of an agreement with Club Tijuana.
- The US has not scored against Canada since the 2011 Gold Cup.
- Jozy Altidore is now only two goals behind Eric Wynalda for third on the US all-time scoring charts.
- With the win against Iceland, Jurgen Klinsmann is now second in US history with 44 wins, behind only Bruce Arena.