Preview: USMNT Continues Winter World Cup Qualifying Window At CanadaSunday’s Top of the Table Showdown Set for Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Canada; Kickoff at 3 p.m. ET on Paramount+, Telemundo and Universo
CHICAGO (Jan. 29, 2022) – After the USMNT kicked off its slate of three winter World Cup qualifying matches in seven days with a 1-0 victory against El Salvador, the USA travels north to visit group leaders Canada. Sunday’s showdown matches up the top two teams in the Concacaf WCQ standings as the U.S. sits just one point behind Canada in the table.
The USA and Canada have faced off in a number of important continental competitions during the last few years, but the stakes are higher on Sunday with just five matches remaining in World Cup qualifying. Kickoff from Tim Hortons Field is set for 3 p.m. ET (Paramount+, Telemundo, Universo).
USMNT ROSTER BY POSITION - JANUARY/FEBRUARY WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
GOALKEEPERS (4): Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), Gabriel Slonina (Chicago
Fire FC; 0/0), Zack Steffen* (Manchester City/ENG; 26/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 14/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 22/1), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 16/2), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 8/0), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim/GER; 7/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 20/2), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 15/3), DeAndre Yedlin (Unattached; 71/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 24/2)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 46/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 23/1), Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED; 4/0), Sebastian Lletget (New England Revolution; 33/8), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 29/8), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 12/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 30/0)
FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 16/5), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 42/8), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 6/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 41/10), Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg/GER; 7/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 43/17), Tim Weah* (Lille/FRA; 19/2), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew; 67/14)
*Unavailable for Sunday’s match at Canada
Forward Tim Weah did not travel to Canada because his vaccination – which meets all criteria in France, where he plays professionally – doesn’t meet Canada’s entry requirements. Defender Brooks Lennon departed camp with a left ankle injury while goalkeeper Zack Steffen remains day-to-day with back soreness.
USA SCHEDULE - JANUARY/FEBRUARY WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
Thursday, Jan. 27
Lower.com Field; Columbus, Ohio
Sunday, Jan. 30
Tim Hortons Field; Hamilton, Canada
Paramount+, Telemundo, Universo
Wednesday, Feb. 2
Allianz Field; St. Paul, Minn.
FS1, Univision, TUDN
ANOTHER THREE POINTS IN C-BUS
The USMNT returned to World Cup qualifying with a win on Thursday night, topping El Salvador 1-0 before a sold-out crowd of 20,000 at Lower.com Field in Columbus, Ohio. After controlling play for the vast majority of the match, defender Antonee Robinson found the breakthrough shortly after halftime, finishing a header from Jesús Ferreira for the game-winning goal.
The hard-charging U.S. press caused trouble for El Salvador all evening. The Ohio capital once again lived up to its billing as a fortress for the USMNT - the USA’s record in World Cup qualifying matches in the city now stands at 9-1-2 and 10-1-3 overall.
Scheduling changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic set the stage for a special January/February international window with all three World Cup qualifying matches taking place in wintry conditions. When Canada chose to host its home match in Hamilton, Ontario, the U.S. also opted to embrace the cold, unleashing a unique home field advantage in the frosty conditions of Columbus and St. Paul, Minn.
After a successful start to the window in Columbus, kickoff temperature is expected to be lower in Canada and the USMNT is excited to take on the polar climes.
“You know what? I want it to be freezing. I want it to be cold. I want the snow,” said defender Walker Zimmerman. “I want to be a part of something so iconic that I saw and I really remember growing up. And that’s exciting to me. So I think the guys are ready to embrace it.”
With an average age of 23 years, 92 days, Thursday’s lineup was the USMNT’s fourth youngest in World Cup Qualifying history. Each of the three younger Starting XIs have also come during the current cycle. The USMNT roster is one of the youngest in the world during this international window and continues to gain experience with each game. Forward Brenden Aaronson and midfielder Tyler Adams have appeared in all nine WCQ matches so far.
BORDER CONFLICT CONTINUES
During the last few years, the USMNT has faced off with Canada in a number of important continental competitions. The nations were paired in Group A of the inaugural 2019 edition of the Concacaf Nations League, and while Canada came out on top in Toronto it was the United States who dominated its home leg for a 4-1 victory in Orlando, Fla. That game officially cap-tied Sergiño Dest to the U.S. as he recorded his first international assist, while current call-ups Jordan Morris and Gyasi Zardes scored.
The USA was also drawn with its northern neighbor in Group B of the 2021 Gold Cup, topping Canada 1-0 to secure the top spot in the group. Shaq Moore scored the fastest goal in the USMNT’s modern era when he tallied the eventual game-winner just 20 seconds into the game.
The USMNT last faced Canada in its second match of the Octagonal, a 1-1 draw in Nashville, Tenn. While the USA struck first on forward Brenden Aaronson’s fourth international goal, Canada answered quickly when forward Cyle Larin scored just seven minutes later. Despite creating the better of chances and heavily out-possessing Canada, the U.S. wasn’t able to find a game-winner in its first home World Cup qualifying match of the cycle.
CANADA ON THE RISE
Playing in the final round of Concacaf World Cup qualifying for the first time since 1998, Canada enters Sunday in first place in the Octagonal standings. A number of rising talents have propelled Les Rouges to the top of the table as Canada is the lone undefeated team through nine matches during the final round of World Cup qualifying.
Canada found success in the cold during the November window, playing both of its matches in Edmonton, Alberta, highlighted by a 2-1 victory vs. Mexico as temperatures dipped to -10 degrees by the opening whistle. The Canucks kicked off the January World Cup Qualifying window with a 2-0 victory at Honduras, benefitting from an early own goal before forward Jonathan David - teammate of USMNT forward Tim Weah at Lille - netted an insurance goal in the 73rd.
CONCACAF TO IMPLEMENT VAR FOR REMAINING WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS
Concacaf announced that VAR technology will be implemented for the remaining 2022 World Cup Qualifiers, beginning with the matches on Jan. 27. The technology was used successfully in the 2021 Concacaf Nations League Finals, the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, and the latter stages of the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League.
Teams qualify for the World Cup through their regional confederations, and the USMNT has to run the gauntlet of Concacaf (North America, Central America and the Caribbean) to reach Qatar 2022. For the first time, eight teams are contesting the final round of World Cup qualifying for Concacaf from September to March. The nations play a 14-match round-robin, home and away against each of the seven other teams.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the World Cup qualifying schedule has been condensed from 18 months to seven. To accommodate the new schedule, the USMNT has to play three matches during four of the five international windows rather than the usual two matches.
ONLY FORWARD/SOLO PA’LANTE
U.S. Soccer kicked off World Cup qualifying with the launch of “Only Forward,” / “Solo Pa’lante,” the USMNT’s creative campaign focused on uniting fans and the team in a collective journey to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Developed in conjunction with the players, coaches and staff, “Only Forward / Solo Pa’lante” highlights a young, diverse and global-minded Men’s National Team that is humble yet resilient as it looks to tackle the challenge of World Cup Qualifying during the next eight months. As the USMNT continues to gain valuable experience on the road to Qatar, it’s ready to show the world that they are prepared to change the way the world views American soccer.
USA ROSTER NOTES
- Antonee Robinson’s game-winner against El Salvador was his second career international tally. The first was the equalizer in the USMNT’s comeback win at Honduras during the September World Cup Qualifying window.
- Jesús Ferreira recorded his fourth career assist on Robinson’s goal.
- Ferreira earned his first World Cup Qualifying start after appearing off the bench in both November qualifiers.
- Tyler Adams started the match and Brenden Aaronson came off the bench to continue the streak of being the only two U.S. players to appear in all nine World Cup Qualifiers this cycle
- Veteran forward Jordan Morris came off the bench to make his first World Cup Qualifying appearance since Sept. 5, 2017, at Honduras.
- Chris Richards and Walker Zimmerman paired in central defense for the second consecutive qualifier.
- Players represent clubs in 10 different countries: USA (12), England (3), Germany (3), Spain (2), Belgium (1), Austria (1), France (1), Italy (1), Netherlands (1) and Portugal (1).
- Veteran defender DeAndre Yedlin (71) is the leading cap winner on the roster, followed by Gyasi Zardes (67), Kellyn Acosta (46), and Christian Pulisic (43).
- Tyler Adams and DeAndre Yedlin are carrying cautions. Another yellow card for either will result in a one-match suspension.
- Three players are seeking their WCQ debuts: Reggie Cannon, Sean Johnson and Gabriel Slonina.
- Seventeen players were part of the USMNT’s September qualifying roster when the team played El Salvador, Canada and Honduras.
- Gyasi Zardes scored two goals and Jordan Morris tallied another in the USA’s 4-1 win against Canada in Concacaf Nations League group play on Nov. 15, 2019, in Orlando.
- Sunday will be the 38th meeting all-time between the USA and Canada. The USMNT holds a 16-9-12 advantage all-time and is 12-1-7 in the modern era (since 1990), outscoring Canada 29-7 during that span.
- Canada holds the advantage in World Cup qualifying as the U.S. trails 4-6-4.
- Les Rouges hold a 4-1-1 advantage in qualifiers played on Canadian soil. The lone U.S. win came in the last qualifier in Canada, a 3-0 victory on Nov. 9, 1997, in which the USMNT qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
- Sunday’s contest is the fifth matchup between the nations in the last three years.
- The U.S. and Canada last played to a 1-1 draw during the second matchday of 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying on Sept. 5, 2021, in Nashville. The USA’s Brenden Aaronson opened the scoring in the 55th minute, but Canada’s Cyle Larin found the equalizer seven minutes later.
- During last summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup, the USA earned a tight 1-0 win against Canada to clinch the top spot in Group B on July 18 in Kansas City. Right back Shaq Moore scored the fastest goal in USMNT and Gold Cup history when he netted just 20 seconds into the match.
- The nations also met during the group stage of the inaugural Concacaf Nations League in fall 2019. After a 2-0 loss in Toronto during the October window, the USA rallied for an emphatic 4-1 win in November in Orlando that set the U.S. up to clinch Group A and advance to the Nations League Final Four.
- Sergiño Dest became officially cap-tied to the U.S. during the Nations League win vs. Canada in Orlando and notched his first international assist on the game’s opening goal.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Milan Borjan (Red Star Belgrade/SRB; 59/0), Maxime Crepeau (LAFC/USA; 14/0), Jayson Leutwiler (Oldham Athletic/ENG; 3/0)
DEFENDERS (9): Samuel Adekugbe (Hatayspor/TUR; 25/0), Derek Cornelius (Panetolikos/GRE; 14/0), Cristian Gutierrez (Vancouver Whitecaps; 0/0), Doneil Henry (unattached; 1/0), Alistair Johnston (CF Montreal/CAN; 19/1), Scott Kennedy (Jahn Regensburg/GER; 6/0), Richie Laryea (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 23/1), Kamal Miller (CF Montreal/CAN; 19/0), Steven Vitoria (Moreirense/POR; 29/2)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Stephen Eustaquio (Porto; POR; 18/3), Liam Fraser (Deinze/BEL; 12/0), Atiba Hutchinson (Besiktas/TUR; 91/8); Mark-Anthony Kaye (Colorado Rapids/USA; 30/2), Jonathan Osorio (Toronto FC/CAN; 50/7), Samuel Piette (CF Montreal/CAN; 61/0)
FORWARDS (7): Tajon Buchanan (Club Brugge/BEL; 17/3), Lucas Cavallini (Vancouver Whitecaps; 29/16), Jonathan David (Lille/FRA; 25/19), Junior Hoilett (Reading/ENG; 40/13), Cyle Larin (Besiktas/TUR; 45/22), Liam Millar (Basel/SUI; 14/0), Ike Ugbo (Genk/BEL; 1/0)
IN FOCUS: CANADA
- Eight players compete for MLS teams, including six with the three Canadian-based clubs.
- Former Orlando City SC standout forward Cyle Larin leads all scorers in Concacaf qualifying with 11 goals. He has been lethal on both sides of the Atlantic, tallying 30 goals in 72 matches for Beşiktaş (Turkey) since 2018.
- With four goals each, Larin is tied with teammate Jonathan David for the overall lead in goals during the final round of qualification.
- Last year, 22-year-old midfielder Tajon Buchanan emerged as an important piece of the puzzle for the national team. Named the Concacaf Gold Cup's Young Player of the tournament, Buchanan was transferred by the New England Revolution to Club Brugge (Belgium) on Aug. 24.
- Team captain and midfielder Atiba Hutchinson is the oldest player on the squad (38) and has represented Canada a record 91 times.
- Fourteen of the 15 players that appeared in the 1-1 draw with the USMNT on Sept. 5 in Nashville are on the roster. The lone player who is not part of the squad is 21-year-old defender Alphonso Davies, who was ruled out of this window after being diagnosed with mild myocarditis, following his recovery from COVID-19.