O Canada. Two-O, Canada, to be precise.
The Canadian men took control of the top of the CONCACAF table on Sunday afternoon, beating the USMNT 2-0 in World Cup qualifying. Canada now sits at 22 points, four clear of the second-place United States and five points above Mexico. Canada is also undefeated in qualifying.
Jeff Carlisle @JeffreyCarlisle
FT: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/usmnt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#usmnt</a> 0-2 Canada. The US simply wasn't sharp enough, nor did it play fast enough in the final third. The subs provided a spark, but that was too late. Credit Canada. They played like a team with something to prove, and now they can practically touch a spot in Qatar.
Cyle Larin scored the decisive goal in the seventh minute, as a bad turnover by the United States led to a lightning-quick counter for the Canadians:
And Sam Adekugbe sealed the deal in the dying moments for Canada's second goal.
The United States had its moments, holding large chunks of possession and pushing forward into the box. But the Americans were poor in the final third, lacking the crisp passing and clinical finishing needed to beat a very solid Canadian side.
The United States' best chance to equalize before allowing the second goal came from Weston McKennie—only to see Milan Borjan make a miraculous save:
So for a United States team that looked a step off the pace against Canada, where does the blame lie? In the tactics?
Taylor Twellman @TaylorTwellman
Do you see the "freedom of thought"? <br><br>Do you see the "explosiveness" that you saw from Canada? <br><br>Do you see "plan B" when it comes to chasing games or changing games?<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USMNT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a> <a href="https://t.co/7i7Iq3eM9T">https://t.co/7i7Iq3eM9T</a>
Kyle Bonn @the_bonnfire
Berhalter asked about Canada’s physicality: “Actually, they couldn’t handle OUR physicality, we gave it to them up and down the pitch.”<br><br>This is an aggressive and defiant Berhalter after a signature loss <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USMNT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a>
In its best player, Christian Pulisic, looking flat for a second straight appearance?
Or is Canada just better? It certainly has been thus far in qualifying.
Ives Galarcep @SoccerByIves
There was a time when Canada was considered a soft team. Today? They were the tougher team, had more bite. They brought the edge, and took the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USMNT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a> out of their comfort zone.<br><br>Also, David, Larin and Buchanan were clearly sharper than USA's attackers, who were just plain flat
In this qualifying period, the United States continues to veer between promise and inconsistency. They'll follow poor halves with excellent showings down the stretch. A good game will be followed by disappointment. Players will look world-class in one moment and mediocre the next.
Perhaps that partially comes with the territory for a talented but young roster. Some blame will fall on manager Gregg Berhalter for the flat showing after Thursday's 1-0 win over El Salvador.
Granted, the end game is qualifying for the World Cup, and the United States remain in excellent position to do so. The top three teams in CONCACAF qualifying receive an automatic berth to the World Cup, while the fourth-place team goes to an intercontinental playoff with a chance to qualify.
But Sunday's disappointing loss makes Wednesday's showdown with Honduras (7:30 p.m. ET) in Minnesota all the more important. Canada, meanwhile, can all but clinch its berth with points at El Salvador on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET). For the moment, they are the kings of CONCACAF.