USA vs. Canada preview: Gregg Berhalter faces must-win game to save USMNT job

If there was any doubt that despair had set in and disaster had befallen the US Men’s National Team (USMNT), then last month’s loss to Canada served to remove all doubt. There was not a single positive to take from it. Gregg Berhalter inexplicably subbed out Christian Pulisic who then wanted nothing to do with his manager. Berhalter then compounded his errors (he’s very good at doing that) and failed to go greet the traveling supporters after the game. He lied to the media about why Pulisic was subbed out, saying he had the flu (Pulisic said that was not the case). His written apology to the fans seemed forced and hollow, and his video apology came off as both a hostage video and a sales pitch (which failed because ticket sales are stuck around press time at 8,000 for Friday’s game against Canada.) He has since said that in this pair of Nations League games against Canada and Cuba that nothing but a win will suffice. It remains to be seen if he is a man of his word.

The US roster for this game was predictably MLS-heavy and was bizarrely released in bits and pieces, instead of all at once. Christian Pulisic is out with an injury but Sergino Dest is in camp and he has already made sure to let fans know that October’s loss to Canada will not be repeated. But outside of Dest, Josh Sargent, Weston McKennie and John Brooks, all of the usual mediocre suspects, are there. Brad Guzan and Sean Johnson are in goal, Tim Ream is in the squad on the backline for some random reason (despite being 32 years old) and of course, Berhalter’s two favorite players: Wil Trapp and Gyasi Zardes. Unsurprisingly, FC Dallas youngster Paxton Pomykal is not in the squad after, without mentioning anybody by name, pointing out the insanity of some of Berhalter’s squad selections, namely Zardes’ constant inclusion.

For Canada, beating the US was the culmination of years of trying to get things back on track. Canada hasn’t been to the World Cup since 1986 when it was in Mexico. But with John Herdman in charge, it is really starting to look like they could put together an exciting qualifying campaign. Since the start of 2018, Canada has posted a record of 10-2-0 (W-L-D). They made the knockout rounds at this summer’s Gold Cup and currently sit in the drivers seat in this Nations League group. Not coincidentally, a large chunk of Canada’s roster is European based: Junior Hoilett of Cardiff City, Liam Millar of Kilmarnock, Scott Arfield of Rangers, David Witherspoon of St. Johnstone, Jayson Leutwiler of Blackburn Rovers, and of course the superstar, Alphonso Davies of Bayern Munich.

Notes:

1. For some reason, US Soccer decided to play both home Nations League games in stadiums where they had already played friendlies this year: October’s game against Cuba was played at Audi Field (where they played Jamaica in May) and this game against Canada is being played at Exploria Stadium (where they played Ecuador in March).

2. Despite a 34 year unbeaten streak against Les Rouges, the US has had a difficult time finding the back of the net against them. Dating all the way back to 2012 the US has scored a total of 1 goal in four games against Canada.

3. The US is winless in four of the last five games.

When and where to find the game on US TV and streaming

Friday, November 15, 2019
Exploria Stadium
Orlando, Florida
7pm ET
Live on ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN, Sling Orange, Hulu Live, AT&T TV Now and fuboTV (in Spanish) (free trial)

All-Time Series

USA leads 14-9-12

Last Meeting

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
BMO Field
Toronto, Ontario
Canada 2-0 USA

Current FIFA Ranking

USA: 23
Canada: 69

Next Game

Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Nations League
USA vs. Cuba
Truman Bodden Sports Complex
Georgetown, Cayman Islands
7:30pm ET
Live on FS1, UniMas, TUDN, Sling Blue, Hulu Live, AT&T TV Now and fuboTV (free trial)

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