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Thursday 9 June 2011

First Person View – Thoughts on USA vs. Canada in Detroit

    I just got back from Detroit earlier this evening – if you ever find yourself in the Motor City, the Motown Museum is worth the trip and the burgers at Five Guys are equally excellent- sitting down to re-watch the USA-Canada match. I haven’t had a chance to read any of the other post-match diagnostics but I thought I’d share my initial impression.

    Ford Field was interesting, I found it strange to walk indoors at street level and find the ground open up to a massive subterranean stadium. The crowd was good, but not spectacular; the Canadian fans were vociferous, if small in number and somewhat unorganized. With Detroit being so close to Canada – relatively speaking – I was hoping for a better turnout

    Just 15 minutes in, the goal from Altidore to be specific, was emblematic of the difference between the two teams: goaltending was the deciding factor. Lars Hirschfeld, an expected surprise in goal, fluffed a simply save when he failed to get down to block Altidore’s shot, allowing it to squeeze under his body. Tim Howard, on the other hand – and team – saved his side from allowing a goal or two.

    As you know the match ended 2-0 to the US, with Howard making a spectacular save from an Ali Gerba close range attempt. Discount the weak goal allowed to open the scoring and notch one up to Canada without Timmy’s heroics and we have ourselves a respectable 1-1 draw. 

    The two sides were equal in talent on the pitch. The Americans prefer to play a controlled, counterattacking 4-4-2. Canada’s dynamic 4-2-3-1, with good pace on the wings and a solid back four unit, troubled them and stifled them. When the US got that early goal they were able to sit back and wait for chances, exactly what Bob Bradley wants them to do.

    Stephen Hart’s decision to field Hirschfeld over Milan Borjan, who I thought had performed well in the warm-up match vs. Ecuador, was a head scratcher. I know that often players suffer in their club careers in order to represent Canada and that Lars’ commitment to the team over the years does deserve recognition. But I can’t help but feel that this sentimentality or hesitancy to take a risk on a less comfortable choice was the deciding factor in the game.

I may be back with more to saw on the matter, and others, soon. 

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