HOUSTON – Against a Canada side made up mostly of players looking for experience, the United States turned in a performance reminiscent of the early days of the Jurgen Klinsmann era – long on possession but short on chances.
The result: A frustrating 0-0 draw on Tuesday night that had the players and coaches lamenting missed chances and opportunities in the vital area.
“I think as a team, we did a good job keeping the ball,” second-half sub Joshua Gatt (above) told reporters, “but when our attacking roles were going through, we didn’t get a lot of the quality balls in behind that we really needed to put the dagger in them. We did a good job in the two-thirds that were the midfield and our defense, but in the final third, we lacked the killer ball, killer shot or killer pass, and that was our problem tonight.”
OPTA Chalkboard: US dominate possession, fail to create clear-cut chances
While this game was far from a referendum on the US or the state of qualifying, the problems finding that final ball surprised some as the US were stocked with midfield playmakers such as Brad Davis, Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber to provide service.
But as the team tried to push forward – a task that grew more and more frustrating as the night went on despite some overall improvement – the final connection was rarely there for a team that has been together for three-and-a-half weeks.
“I think we were just a little bit tentative,” said Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis. “No one got around the 18. I would’ve liked to have created a few more things, get some shots on goal. I don’t think we had a shot from outside the whole game.
“Those are things that are going to happen when you’re with a group of guys that haven’t been playing very long together.”
USA 0-0 CAN: Check out the lineups and stats
While the US had their share of struggles with cohesion and the final pass, it would be a crime to not give Canada their due. The visitors came in with a game plan that revolved around making things difficult for the US attack by playing a compact style of defense and making the US earn their spoils. They executed perfectly as the USA’s best shot on the night was an Omar Gonzalez header in the second half that failed to find the back of the net.
From the US point of view on this night, it was a case of missed attacking opportunities in a game that had a result and so much more riding on it for players looking to break into the World Cup qualifying rotation.
"In that game we had to show that we can break down a team,” Sporting Kansas City center back Matt Besler told reporters. “Canada was tough for us, and we’re going to face teams like that in qualifying. If you look at some of the teams we’re going to face, there might be 10 or 11 guys behind the ball and we’re going to have to try and find a way to break teams down.”