The United States was supposed to roll through Group A and onto the finals of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament for a match-up against Mexico with a spot in London already locked up, but nothing went the way it was supposed to on Saturday. Canada, who looked dreadful in their tournament opener, played the U.S. toe to toe, frustrated them and then beat them 2-0 to put themselves in control of Group A.
On the surface, the loss might not look like much to the U.S. apart from supporters freaking out about the team they were excited about, but this is a big deal in terms of qualification for the Olympics. With Canada likely to beat Cuba on Monday and win the group, the Americans will have to beat El Salvador just to get a spot in the semifinals. There they would likely play Mexico, the best team in the tournament, needing a win for a spot in the Olympics. Ouch.
Canada did their damage to the U.S. on corner kicks, getting both of their goals from them. Doniel Henry gave the Canadians the lead just before the hour mark when he escaped from Ike Opara and Bill Hamid decided to wait for the ball to come down instead of grabbing or punching the corner kick up high. That allowed Henry to slide in front of Hamid and nod the ball home for the opening tally.
It took until the waning minutes, but Canada did get a second goal to ice things. Lucas Cavallini got to a cross after a short corner and the match was on ice.
The U.S. did have their chances to go in front, then equalize, then get back within one, but they never could quite finish. Opara looked to have scored once, but the linesman questionable ruled him offisde. Freddy Adu had a few chances as well, but Michal Misiewicz was strong in goal for Canada and kept the Americans off the scoreboard.
Canada didn't win because of luck or parking the bus, as one might assume with an upset like this. For much of the match Canada outshot the Americans and by the end the shots were level at 10-10. Nobody would argue that they weren't the sharper team either and in the end, they were rewarded with a win that has flipped the tournament on its head.