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U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

June 2, 2012
FINAL TUNEUP
U.S. readies for qualifying against Canada

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Clint Dempsey returned to action on Wednesday,Clint Dempsey returned to action on Wednesday, entering the game in the second half.
Clint Dempsey returned to action on Wednesday,Clint Dempsey returned to action on Wednesday, entering the game in the second half.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Were the United States’ five game stretch of games over 18 days really a tournament, as coach Jurgen Klinsmann has said he’s trying to replicate, then Sunday’s match against Canada at BMO Field might be the must-win game in order to move onto the next round, with the Americans sitting on a one win and one loss record so far.

The 7pm (ET) game, which will be aired by NBC Sports Network, is part of the Canada Soccer Association’s Centenary celebrations, and will be the last tune up for both teams before heading into World Cup Qualifying.

The United States is coming off a stinging 4-1 defeat at the hands of Brazil on Wednesday night, at FedEx Field outside the nation’s capital. A near capacity crowd of 67,619 was entertained by the technically gifted Brazilians, who samba-ed their way to an early 2-0 lead, forcing the hosts to chase the game.

Neymar, Thiago Silva, Marcelo and second-half sub Alexandre Pato tallied for the Brazilians, while Herculez Gomez found the back of the net for the U.S.

“We need to get an edge more,” said Klinsmann of his team’s performance against the five-time World Champions.

The U.S. also needs to find some consistency in its performance, since the loss came on the heels of a similarly dominating performance by the Americans, who beat Scotland 5-1 last Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla. on the strength of a Landon Donovan hat trick.

The two games made it a week of two tales for the Americans, who can’t afford to have that kind of up and down swing, regardless of the opposition.

“We would like to develop a style of play that is more attacking, a higher pace and more possession-based type of soccer,” Klinsmann said. “And in that process you go through ups and downs.”

The lone bright spot for the U.S. on Wednesday was Gomez, who scored the only goal. Gomez, a member of the 2010 World Cup team, made his reappearance with the U.S. after tearing up the Mexican league with Clausura champions Santos Laguna, and was inserted into the starting lineup against Brazil because of his performance in practice during the week.

"I think we found a striker who is mobile, a fighter, who is nasty to a certain extent," Klinsmann said of Gomez.

Klinsmann may have more of an arsenal to choose from at the start of Sunday’s game, after Clint Dempsey returned to the pitch in the 56th minute after missing the Scotland game with a groin injury.

The USA is 13-8-9 overall against Canada, with only one match played on a neutral site – a 3-0 U.S. loss on Dec. 22, 1976, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Canada went 4-0-2 in the first round of qualifying, while the U.S. was given a bye into the second round.

The U.S. opens qualifying in Group A when it takes on Antigua & Barbuda – a team they have never before faced -- at 7 p.m. ET on June 8 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. (ESPN, ESPN3, Galavision). Canada travels to face Cuba in Group C to open its qualifying on June 8 in Havana.

The final U.S. game in the 18-day stretch is a qualifier against Guatemala in Guatemala City, which will be available on pay-per-view




   
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