The USA took the first step towards returning to the Confederations Cup getting their Gold Cup campaign off to a positive start Tuesday night.
Putting in a workmanlike effort the USA took care of opening round business with a 2-0 victory over a very game Canadian squad Tuesday night. While the USA got a well-earned victory they’re joined at the top of group C by Panama who took care of a 10-man Guadeloupe squad 3-2 in the early game.
USA keep clean sheet against Canada
While it was not a dominant performance like Mexico’s or Costa Rica’s, the USA was clearly the better team in Tuesday win against Canada. The Yanks dictated the pace of the game and made two well earned goals stand up in the Gold Cup opener.
Jozy Altidore was the star for the Yanks notching the first goal and assisting on the second sending a low ball through the box that Fulham’s Clint Dempsey slotted past Canadian ‘keeper Ian Hirschfield. Altidore, who is back with Villareal after a loan spell with Bursaspor, showed flashes of his dangerous form of 2009. The young forward often draws the ire of fans and critics for disappearing from games but Tuesday night the 21 year old was on point and provided a spark up top that the Yanks have been missing in recent fixtures.
Tim Howard showed late why he provides the USA with an advantage over teams making two sharp saves on second half sub Ali Gerba in the last 20 minutes. The most impressive was when Gerba volleyed a rebounded ball at Howard who recovered from making a kick save to get his hands up in the nick of time to keep the Maple Leafs off the scoreboard.
On the night Steve Cherundolo and Landon Donovan combined very well and Michael Bradley covered a lot of ground while providing good service from the middle. Another good showing was from new center back pairing – a position of worry for Bob Bradley – Tim Ream and Clarence Goodson did well keeping a dangerous attacking group in check.
While the Yanks were the better team Canada had their moments especially in the second half. Gerba was dangerous off the bench and Dwayne De Rosario and Simeon Jackson had moments where they pressured the USA defense as the Maple Leafs controlled the ball for significant stretches in the second half.
Now Canada will have to bounce back Saturday night against Guadeloupe if they want to stay in the race for a knockout stage slot.
Panama tied for first
In the early game the Panama held on for a good win over a tough opponent in Guadeloupe. The Gwada Boys were the runners-up in the Caribbean Cup to Jamaica and showed the grit that got them to their regional championship final.
Panama was dangerous in the attack but benefited from two questionable calls from the referee. The first came on straight red card issued to Michael Tacalfred in the 38th minute when it appeared that he fouled Luis Henriquez. On replay it looked to be minimal contact but nevertheless the Gwada Boys were forced to play down a man for 50 plus minutes.
Already up a goal, Panama took advantage taking a three goal lead on goals from Blas Perez, Luis Tejada and Gabriel Gomez. Gomez’ goal came off an iffy penalty call given when Harold Cummings looked to pull down Perez. Again on replay the contact seemed to be minimal.
Down three goals and a man, Guadeloupe came back led by Jovial’s brace to make the end of the match interesting before ultimately falling 3-2.
Coming out the match the impression of the two teams picked to finish at the bottom of group C has changed and the feeling is that Panama could provide a stiff test to the USA when the teams play Saturday night for sole possession of first place. Canada will face the feisty Gwada Boys to keep their hopes for advancement alive.
Gold Cup action takes a break Wednesday before picking back up Thursday with group A action.