Loading articles...

Canadian men's soccer ends 34-year winless run against U.S.

Last Updated Oct 25, 2019 at 3:17 pm EST

United States midfielder Michael Bradley (4) tackles Canada midfielder Alphonso Davies (12) during first half of CONCACAF Nations League soccer action in Toronto, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Alphonso Davies scored in the 63rd minute and substitute Lucas Cavallini added a stoppage-time goal to help Canada end a 34-year winless run against the U.S. with a 2-0 victory in CONCACAF Nations League play Tuesday.

Canada had a three-on-two after U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley, who normally calls BMO Field home as Toronto FC captain, lost the ball. The Americans cleared it but it came right back and captain Scott Arfield raked a low cross across the penalty box that a sliding Davies knocked in at the far post.

The Bayern Munich teenager, who had been a danger-man all night, turned from the goal and raced away in celebration before being mobbed by teammates. The 18-year-old exited three minutes later to a standing ovation from the announced crowd of 17,126.

Cavallini, taking a looping ball from Jonathan Osorio, hammered home a right-footed shot in stoppage time to rub salt in the U.S. wound. The burly striker kissed the Canadian crest as he celebrated the goal.

The 75th-ranked Canadian men had not beaten the No. 21 Americans since 1985, going 0-9-8 in the years since. Until Tuesday, when they were full value for the victory.

Davies and fellow teenager Jonathan David led the Canadian attack, with Davies’ pace and David’s guile causing real problems.

The Canadians were poised and well-organized, harrying the Americans all night. It was a high-tempo, occasionally ill-tempered game with spectators perhaps wondering early which team was the higher ranked.

And Canada kept its foot on the throttle, frustrating the Americans.

The U.S. has dominated Canada in recent years. It came into the match leading the overall series 14-8-11 and had not lost to the Canadians since a 2-0 decision in April 1985 in Vancouver.

But the U.S. edge was only 7-6-4 in competitive matches against Canada, and 3-6-2 in away matches. While the Americans had won last time out – 1-0 in February 2016 in Carson, Calif. – the two meetings before that were 0-0 draws.

The two teams will face off again Nov. 15 in Orlando. The U.S. will play Cuba four days later in the Cayman Islands capital of George Town.

With Samuel Piette sucking up balls in midfield, the home side looked to get the ball quickly to Davies and David. The elusive Davies gave the U.S. defenders fits with U.S. midfielder Cristian Roldan cynically chopping him down as a chippy first half neared its close.

The Canadian men were in search of valuable ranking points in their bid to climb the FIFA rankings table and qualify for the six-team Hex, the most direct World Cup qualifying route out of CONCACAF.

El Salvador, the team Canada is trying to catch to move into sixth place in the region, blanked Montserrat 2-0 Saturday and Saint Lucia 2-0 on Tuesday. Panama, ninth in CONCACAF, faced Mexico later Tuesday.

Curacao, eighth in the region going into play Tuesday, tied Costa Rica 0-0 Sunday.

Canada coach John Herdman fielded goalkeeper Milan Borjan behind a backline of Kamal Miller, Derek Cornelius, Steven Vitoria and Richie Laryea with Arfield, Piette, Osorio and Mark Anthony-Kaye in the midfield and Davies and David up front.

The Canadians played a 4-4-2 formation with Piette and Kaye the back pair in a box midfield.

Bradley earned his 151st cap, becoming the first U.S. national team player to appear in an away match at his current home club stadium. Montreal Impact fullback Daniel Lovitz also started for the Americans, who were captained by Tim Ream.

Helped by Bradley, the U.S. starting 11 totalled 297 caps going into the game. Canada’s starters had 200 caps combined with Borjan, Piette and Osorio accounting for 120 of them.

Canada lost Kaye in the fifth minute when the LAFC midfielder went down clutching his hamstring. He went straight to the locker-room with Toronto FC’s Liam Fraser, earning his first cap, coming on.

Davies broke in alone soon after but was flagged offside. The teenager then used his pace to break down the U.S. defence, sending in a cross that was cleared.

U.S. ‘keeper Zack Steffen came to the rescue in the 16th minute, kicking out a leg to stop David at close range after an errant Roldan back pass. The ball went back to David who eluded Steffen but sent his shot just wide.

David slotted the all just wide in the 50th minute. A minute later, Borjan made a fine save to stop Christian Pulisic.

Substitute Junior Hoilett came close in the 72nd minute but was stopped by Steffen.

Laryea went down in the 83rd minute in a late challenge from Josh Sargent that prompted a yellow card.

Bradley moved into a back-three as the clock wound down and the Americans unsuccessfully threw men up front.

BMO Field has been a fortress for Canada. Going into Tuesday’s match, the Canadian men were 10-1-7 there since the venue opened in 2007 and currently riding an eight-year, 15-match unbeaten run there. Canada had posted six straight shutouts and conceded just once in its previous 13 matches there.

The Americans are undergoing a transition of their own under Gregg Berhalter, who was named coach in December 2018.

Both teams have already clobbered Cuba in CONCACAF Nations League Group A play.

Canada won 6-0 and 1-0 when the two met last month while the U.S. won 7-0 in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

The U.S. win over Cuba means Canada can finish no lower than second in Group A, which means a berth in the next Gold Cup and a spot in League A in the next Nations League. The group winner advances to the CONCACAF Nations League final four in June.