The home side grabbed the lead before fans even had a chance to settle into their seats, and then firmly hung on the rest of the way to pull out the group's top seed. The Nats' annoying tendency to take their foot off the gas with a lead showed again, but terrific efforts from Miles Robinson and James Sands in particular ensured that the team were able to keep gilt-edged chances to a minimum despite all of Canada's prodding.
United States Men's National Team Player Ratings
No US back liner makes tough stops look more ho-hum than Robinson, who efficiently shut down an array of Canada advances. If you'd have made up a checklist of specific plays and stops you'd want your back line marshal to make in a game, the Atlanta United defender would have checked about every box in this one.
The New York City FC talent impressed again, and in the same ways (calm distribution and hard-nosed, timely defending) that drew attention in the Martinique win. Of course, this was a stronger foe and a bigger occasion, and a slightly different role. It all adds up to a higher grade than last time.
The Tenerife right-sider bagged the earliest winner I can recall, but his quick recognition to dart for the soft spot at the back post was far more exciting than the simple finish. A lot of guys in his role wouldn't have turned up on time, if at all. But Moore wasn't done there, as he rounded out another fine display with other types of strong wingback play, including a key interception after he'd slid over to patch a hole all the way over on the left side of the area.
A shrewd run into space followed by a picture perfect cross for the winner scores big. Lletget's energy with attitude helps the team play forward, so it's a pity they kind of stopped getting him the ball in the second half.
Part of the problem with this regression outing is the continued insistence of playing Busio so deep when he's clearly not strong or seasoned enough to stop opposing approaches through the middle. So that's not totally his fault even if the night's mark looks like it is. And while Busio linked play well enough, he failed to spark anything in the final third (which again brings up the deep role role discussion).
The Colorado midfielder got off to a great start, with his dogged desire to feed the wing helping to set up the winner. Soon thereafter, he made an excellent interception to cut off a threatening Canada move. Then, he mostly disappeared for the rest of his 74 minutes. Acosta could never find the game enough to relieve pressure and wasn't much helping in slowing Canada builds, either.
Few 21-year-olds dazzle every night, so it's easy to forgive this dud and consider him due for a bounce-back next time out. Dike's early running was a nuisance, but he faltered whenever the ball came to his feet.
Thanks to his evolution as a player, Zardes can now have a positive impact even when he only manages one shot attempt. He battled hard to provide some sorely needed front line hold-up play, and as has become customary, also tracked back to contribute a couple of helpful defensive plays.
We can talk about how the team clearly shows up to fight on the same page under this manager. We can talk about how some of his lesser midfield ideas stick around too long. And yet, the thing that sticks out the most from this victory is the small alteration he made to Sands' role. By pushing the youngster up to the midfield gatekeeper's house, Berhalter gave Zone 14 the prohibitive attention it required against a Canada side missing its main playmakers.
The D.C. United defender makes some plays at the back, but man, a certain tightness builds in one's chest any time he has to play the ball. A couple of his major gaffes of that variety might have been costly on another night. Those simple miscues can't happen at this level.
The Boavista right back came on to help hold down the fort, pitching in a couple of big interventions.
The midfielder had no real pressure valve impact during his 16 minutes, and remains too easy to skate past up the gut.
As usual, the Seattle ace signed up for any thankless task he could find to help the team close out a big win.
The Schalke forward was one of the few US players able to break pressure over the final quarter hour, and he even contributed in defense. We'd like to see more of him, please.