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US-Canada rivalry getting "personal" with some players

TORONTO — To say the Canada-US rivalry has been one-sided for the past few decades would be something of an understatement.

Heading into Sunday’s game at BMO Field in Toronto (7 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, Sportsnet, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com), the Americans are riding an unbeaten streak that spans 27 years. While the US-Mexico rivalry reigns supreme among North American nations and perhaps in all of CONCACAF – the 49th parallel rivalry is still a matter of great pride for both teams.

WATCH: US, Canada talk rivalry

“It’s always a biggie,” Canadian forward Simeon Jackson said at a press conference Friday. “They’re our next-door neighbors. Usually next-door neighbors don’t like each other when it comes to derbies, but it’s always going to be intense.”

The last time Canada won a game between the two countries, Igor Vrablic scored both goals as Canada picked up a 2-0 win at BC Place in Vancouver in 1985. Since then, the closest Canada have come is a loss on penalty kicks in the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup and a handful of draws.

“For me at a personal level, I’ve played with one of their teammates – Julian de Guzman – for a few years and it means a lot to me to be able to beat him,” joked American defender Steve Cherundolo. “There was always a little bit of talk back and forth, so it’s an important game for me personally.”

Sunday’s game is part of the centennial celebrations of the Canadian Soccer Association. Canada’s first game after the organization formed as the Dominion of Canada Football Association was a 1-0 win over the United States.

On that day, Canada wore a blue jersey and in the spirit of the occasion; Canada will be wearing a specially designed blue jersey on Sunday as well. In addition, the rivalry between the two sides is a chance to focus on something other than two crucial World Cup qualifiers both sides have upcoming.

“It’s a good distraction, definitely,” said Jackson. “Playing against your neighbors is always a big game and the whole event with the centennial is very big and it’s hopefully going to make a good match as well.”

PREVIEW: USA vs Canada