Canada edges closer to FIFA World Cup with win over USA

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Canada almost booked a spot at November’s World Cup with an impressive 2-0 win over the United States in front of a raucous crowd of over 12,000 at Tim Hortons Field on Sunday afternoon

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HAMILTON — Earlier this month, FIFA began taking ticket orders for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

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Canadians may want to participate in that.

Canada almost booked a spot at November’s World Cup with an impressive 2-0 win over the United States in front of a raucous crowd of more than 12,000 at Tim Hortons Field on Sunday afternoon.

Cyle Larin scored early, Sam Adekugbe added one late and goalkeeper Milan Borjan made a goal-worthy save to push Canada four points clear of USA at the top of the Concacaf qualifying group.

“It’s my dad’s birthday today so it’s a perfect gift for him,” Borjan said. “About the game, it’s just unbelievable, these guys can’t stop. This team is something special, it’s what we fought for and we’re about to make Canadian history.

“The energy that these guys bring to the field and that they brought to the game today, it’s unreal. Defensively we played amazing, it’s not just my save, the whole team did an amazing job defending, and those two guys scored amazing goals.

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Canada has not appeared at a men’s World Cup since its only appearance in 1986 in Mexico. All he has to do to get to Qatar is finish in the top three of Concacaf’s eight-team group, and he is unlikely to fall with four games to play.

Canada will face El Salvador on Wednesday to end the current three-game international window, then close out qualifying with three games at the end of March; away in Costa Rica, home in Jamaica and away in Panama.

With the win over the United States, Canada improved its winning streak to five games and remains the only undefeated team in the region.

“The first goal was key,” said Canada’s head coach John Herdman. “Once you have scored that first goal, you are in control now. You can control where you want to play the game and how you want to play the game, so we were able to adapt.

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Canada opened the scoring seven minutes into the game with a clinical finish from Larin, who was played by Jonathan David.

Canadian centre-back Kamal Miller earned an undisputed header from a United States goal kick to Jonathan Osorio who sent it to Larin. In turn, he played David squarely, then ran into the penalty area for the return pass, and fed the ball to distant goalkeeper Matt Turner.

“I think we started the game very well,” Osorio said. “We pressed them and Kamal did a great job winning the first ball and putting it in an area where I can play on it and I just tried to touch it and get it to our strikers, and our two starting forwards did their thing. They combined and Cyle is automatic, he puts the ball in the net, and it was a good start and exactly what we needed in the game.

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The goal rattled the United States who pushed forward but struggled to break the Canadian back line anchored by Steven Vitoria and Miller.

Tajon Buchanan started on the left side of midfield with an eye on USA full-back Sergino Dest, who is a threat running errands at the back.

Buchanan was playing the role normally held by Alphonso Davies, but the Bayern Munich star was unavailable after developing myocarditis following a bout with COVID-19.

Buchanan did a great job there, putting himself in the shoes of Dest throughout the contest, who plays for Barcelona and is arguably America’s best player.

“We knew it would be a tough game, USA have top players, we knew we were going to concede chances,” Adekugbe said. “Our mentality was super strong and we’re sticking together and I think we defended quite well, given the circumstances of the game and we’re delighted to get three points.”

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Late in the first half, the United States had a great chance after a corner kick into the box by striker Christian Pulisic. Midfielder Weston McKinnie came on the end and headed a powerful header on goal. Borjan, however, was able to get up and crush him, pulling off an incredible save.

“Milan wasn’t very busy, he had to pull off that big save and that’s what he can do,” Herdman said. ” He is connected. When Milan Borjan is online, he can be one of the best around; you have seen this form in the Champions League in Europe.

In the second half, the United States pushed the wind at their back, but ran into a solid defense from Canada, which proved dangerous on the counterattack. Canada should have earned two points with 20 minutes left, but Larin couldn’t grab a rebound on a Turner that fell on a David shot.

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Adekugbe then put the game aside on a solo run from midfield, hammering a left-footed shot past Turner on virtually the last kick of the game. The only thing missing was for Adekugbe to jump into a snowbank, like he did in Edmonton after a Canadian goal against Mexico.

“I just tried to get to first touch and saw the centre-back dive and saw I was on goal and shot and scored,” Adekugbe said. “It was just a lot of emotions going through me and when my teammates ran towards me after the goal I was so happy, it was an important win for the team and we are almost where we want to be. “

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