The U.S. men’s national team kicked off the centennial year of U.S. Soccer with an uninspired 0-0 draw against Canada. Tuesday night’s friendly at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston was the final match before the U.S. travels to Honduras to start the final stage of World Cup Qualifying on Feb. 6.
The lineup for next week’s match will look nothing like the one manager Jurgen Klinsmann used Tuesday. Most starting national team players were unavailable due to club commitments, so Klinsmann relied mostly on Major League Soccer players. The U.S. featured three defenders earning their first caps: Tony Beltran, Matt Besler and Justin Morrow. Midfielder Alfredo Morales and forward Will Bruin also made their debuts with appearances late in the second half.
Canada, which fell 4-0 to Denmark on Saturday in Tucson, Ariz., also went without many key players. The Canadians have been eliminated from qualifying and are looking to build for the future.
Although most of the players on the field for the U.S. were still in preseason form, they had been training together for three weeks. Despite the preparation, the team looked disjointed, struggling to connect on long passes or show creativity in the offensive third.
The U.S. had more than two-thirds of the possession but only managed two shots on target. Canada meanwhile was content to sit back and defend with the exception of a couple of chances from captain Dwayne De Rosario.
De Rosario provided the best early chance for either team when his volley forced Sean Johnson to make a high save from close range. The U.S. had a decent opportunity in the 52nd minute when Eddie Johnson’s cross was deflected to Brad Davis at the near post, but the Houston Dynamo midfielder’s shot went beyond the far post.
Klinsmann had said that six to eight players from this group could make the roster for Honduras, and it’s unlikely anyone’s chances improved based on Tuesday’s performance. Central defenders Besler and Omar Gonzalez certainly did not hurt their chances, although Canada did not provide much of a test. Gonzalez also showed good movement on offensive set pieces, but he could not get on the end of a cross.
Brad Evans, employed as a central midfielder in the first half, struggled to get the team moving in the right direction. In the second half, midfielders Josh Gatt and Benny Feilhaber came on the field and showed sparks at first but quickly faded.
Three of the last five matches between Canada and the U.S. have ended in scoreless draws. The U.S. has not lost at home to Canada since 1957.