Both teams, which feature heavily-fortified MLS rosters, are coming off wins in their Concacaf Gold Cup openers, with the USMNT taking a slim 1-0 win over Haiti, while Canada overcame an early deficit to knock off Martinique, 4-1.
Holden said the US win over Haiti was a mixed back, perhaps prompting more questions for Gregg Berhalter, especially given positive performances off the bench from the likes of Gianluca Busio, Eryk Williamson and James Sands.
“It wasn’t a great performance from the US, but I think they recognize that and in many ways it’s given Gregg Berhalter more to think about going forward and an understanding of ‘OK, maybe I thought it would go this way, but we can try these types of things’ and then you saw some guys come off the bench for the last 15-20 minutes and look really exciting and then everyone is like ‘Oh my God, that’s who we need to see on the field,’” Holden said.
“It’s going to be a slow burn I think for this team getting to the point where they’re hopefully competing for the final August 1.”
Canada rebounded from conceding inside the opening five minutes to score four unanswered goals to defeat Martinique. In that win, Tajon Buchanan was especially impressive, filling in for former Vancouver Whitecaps homegrown and Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies at left wingback. The New England Revolution standout is one of several MLS players on a Canadian squad that have steadily improved under John Herdman.
“I’ve been impressed with how much Canada have improved over the last what three, four years at least? Hey, MLS deserves a huge nod to that because a lot of these players are playing in Major League Soccer or have played,” Holden aid. “A guy like Cyle Larin had a great season last with Besiktas last year in Turkey. And where was he before? Orlando City.”
Davies was on the roster, but left camp with an ankle injury. Jonathan David, the Lille forward, was left off the squad to rest ahead of the upcoming Ligue 1 season.