Nissan Stadium has seen its fair share of draws this year, so it seemed only fitting that Sunday’s World Cup qualifier between the U.S. and Canada ended in a 1-1 draw as well.
Both sides sit with two points through their first two qualifying matches, trailing Mexico (six points) and Panama (four points). The U.S. will play its third World Cup qualifier this week on Wednesday when the Americans play Honduras. Anything short of the win could put the USMNT in jeopardy of failing to qualify for the World Cup twice in its last two tries.
The U.S. also failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
“We’ve got to have a long look in the mirror and really establish what our goals are here,” USMNT midfielder Tyler Adams said. “…Coming out of the first two games, we’re a little bit shy now of those goals that we have set, so we need to kind of reorganize our thought process and figure out what’s the most important thing.”
The U.S. got its lone goal from midfielder Brenden Aaronson, who was teed up perfectly by teammate Antonee Robinson from the left side as Aaronson crashed to the right of the net. His one-timer went flailing past CNT keeper Milan Borjan -- it was Aaronson’s fourth career international goal.
However, Canada equalized seven minutes later as Alphonso Davies drove downfield, outrunning a defender and sending a perfectly-placed cross to Cyle Larin, who was waiting near the right post. Larin beat USMNT keeper Matt Turner, who wasn’t in position to make the save. The goal snapped Turner’s 568-minute shutout streak with the USMNT.
The U.S. dominated in shots (11 to 6), corner kicks (5 to 2) and possession (72 percent to 28), but simply couldn’t muster any offense when it mattered. Canada – much like every other USMNT opponent – had a simple game plan: sit back and challenge the U.S. to come after them.
The plan worked as the USMNT only registered two shots on target as Canada employed a sound defensive game plan that included nearly dropping double-digit players back to the 18-yard box.
The U.S. had no answer for Canada's stifling defense and showed the lack of a killer instinct. After the offensive efforts against El Salvador then Canada, the U.S. may have been exposed as a non-threat on the attack.
“We didn't test them enough, whether it was not being direct enough or not," USMNT captain Christian Pulisic said. "We just need some new solutions. Obviously, it wasn't good enough."
The U.S. is now on the hot seat as it faces Honduras in a virtual must-win match on Wednesday. A stagnant offense that is built around pointless ball movement and not enough shot creation has been the team's Achilles heel through its first two WCQ matches.
But perhaps playing with its back against the wall is exactly what the club needs to light a fire under it.
“There’s ups and downs and bumps in the road, and we just have to keep responding when we’re called on,” USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter said. "We can do two things: we can feel bad for ourselves or we can continue on with a positive attitude and try to get a positive result in Honduras.”