The United States was held to a 1-1 draw by Canada in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Nashville on Sunday, as Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies guided the Canadians to a 1-1 draw.
Coach Gregg Berhalter’s US team, who were held to a 0-0 draw by El Salvador on Thursday, appeared to be on track to win after Red Bull Salzburg striker Brenden Aaronson put them ahead on 55 minutes.
However, only seven minutes later, American dreams of a crucial three points were dashed when Davies ruthlessly punished a defensive blunder by US substitute DeAndre Yedlin on the left wing.
The 20-year-old winger surged forward and squared a superb pass to Cyle Larin, who tucked the finish away to hush a crowd of 43 000 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
The hosts, who welcomed Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic back into their starting lineup following his recovery from Covid-19, were unable to break the deadlock in the last minutes, and Canada earned a well-deserved draw.
The setback left the Americans with just two points from two games in the eight-team final qualification group for teams from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, desperate to make up for their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
“Obviously, we’re not where we want to be,” Pulisic said, “but we still have a lot of games left to play and it’s not time to give up.”
“We’ve got one more game in this window, and we’ve got to get rolling,” said the US captain, whose team takes on Honduras on Wednesday in San Pedro Sula.
The US had dropped Juventus’ Weston McKennie just before the game for violating team Covid-19 regulations, and it was a frustrating night for them.
THREAT OF DAVIES
Aaronson’s well-worked team goal was a rare moment of successful penetration for the United States, which struggled to find a rhythm against a rugged Canadian team early on.
On the counter-attack, Davies’ pace was a constant threat for Canada, and the Bundesliga star almost scored in the first half, catching US right back Sergino Dest off guard to rush clear.
Davies went to the byline and cut back for Larin, whose shot was wonderfully palmed behind for a corner by US goalkeeper Matt Turner, who was off balance.
As Canada defended in depth, the US struggled to create clear-cut opportunities, with Antonee Robinson’s speculative long-range effort on 21 minutes, stopped by Borjan, being the only notable US chance early on.
In fact, the finest chance for the Americans in the first half hour came from a Canadian.
Dest’s charging run up the flank opened space for Aaronson, whose whipped cross was wildly headed goalwards by Canada defender Scott Kennedy, forcing Milan Borjan into an acrobatic save.
As the first half came to a close, the United States began to gain the upper hand. With a 40th-minute effort, Pulisic hit the post, and Sebastian Lletget flashed a volley beyond on the stroke of halftime.
However, after Aaronson’s second-half goal, Canada responded admirably and proved to be more than a match for the Americans, earning a valuable away point.
In other CONCACAF qualifiers on Sunday, Mexico made it two wins in a row by defeating Costa Rica 1-0 in San Jose.
Orbelin Pineda’s penalty gave the Mexicans all three points, putting them on top of the rankings with six points from two games.
Meanwhile, Jamaica was defeated for the second time, this time 3-0 at home against 2018 World Cup qualifiers Panama.
El Salvador was held 0-0 at home by Honduras in the other game of the day.