Three for Thursday: Top USA vs. Canada matchups

Three For Thursday, May 31

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It’s a battle for the border.

OK, not that border. But when the United States take on Canada on Sunday (7 pm ET, NBCSN, Sportsnet, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), it will be the first time the Yanks play their neighbors to the north away from home soil in nearly 15 years.

Can you call it a rivalry? Historically, no question. Since their first meeting back on June 27, 1925 – in which host Canada won 1-0 at Alexandra Park in Montreal – the United States are 12-8-9 all-time against the Canadians.

But of late? With the US currently riding a 14-match unbeaten streak against the Canadians that spans more than 25 years – Canada’s last win over the United States came on April 2, 1985 in a 2-0 triumph in Vancouver – it’s hard to overlook the United States’ recent dominance.

The Canucks, for their part, are trying to close the soccer gap between the two nations, not unlike the US hockey team vying to compete internationally on the same level as the Canadians (a la the 2010 Olympic final). The pieces certainly seem to be getting better. With D.C. United star and MLS icon Dwayne De Rosario holding down the midfield – and hoping to pull his best Sidney Crosby impression – it’s impossible to overlook head coach Stephen Hart's squad in this one.

Ahead of the clash this weekend, we highlight the Top 3 US vs. Canada matches of all-time.

1. June 22, 1957: Canada 5, US 1 (Toronto)

Wait, what?

Yes, you read that correctly. In their first-ever World Cup qualifier, the Canadians downed the United States at Varsity Stadium in Toronto in the largest margin of victory over the US in their history.

Art Hughes paved the way for Canada with two goals, and Norman McLeod, Pat Philley and Gordon Stewart all contributed in the result. The Canadians went on to finish second in group play with a 2-2 record, with Mexico claiming the top spot at a perfect 4-0.

US defender Harry Keough – one of the catalysts on the squad that upset England during the 1950 World Cup – scored the lone goal for the Americans.

2. November 9, 1997: US 3, Canada 0 (Vancouver)

The last time the US headed north of the border, they were one win away from a berth in the 1998 World Cup.

Mission accomplished.

In a 3-0 victory in Vancouver, the US were in fine form and firing on all cylinders. Claudio Reyna hammered home the game-winner off a feed from Roy Wegerle just five minutes into the match, and Wegerle followed up his assist with two goals of his own to cap off his impressive performance. It was all good enough to secure a spot in France for the 1998 World Cup.

3. June 21, 2007: US 2, Canada 1 (Chicago)

Benny Feilhaber’s wonder-volley in the 2007 Gold Cup final against Mexico – which earned the United States their second consecutive title and a berth in the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa– will go down as one of the best goals ever scored by the US.

But they had to go through Canada first.

The United States knocked off the Canadians 2-1 at Soldier Field in Chicago behind goals from Frankie Hejduk (above, right) and Landon Donovan. Hejduk put the Americans in front in the 39th minute when he one-timed a feed from Donovan into the lower left-hand corner. Just before halftime, DeMarcus Beasley earned a penalty, and Donovan doubled the Americans’ advantage.

Canada responded back in the 76th minute when substitute Iain Hume beat Kasey Keller – who was making his 100th appearance for the Red, White and Blue – on a shot that found the side netting.

In a wild finish – one that saw Michael Bradley sent off in the 86th minute for a challenge on Julian de Guzman – the United States survived a late onslaught and held on for the win. But it didn't come easily. Atiba Hutchinson (above, left) had a potential game-tying goal waved off for offside during stoppage time, a call that most certainly still irks Canadians to this day.