US stumbles to 2-0 loss at 1st-place Canada in qualifying

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HAMILTON, Ontario (AP) — Canada beat the United States for just the second time in 37 years, a 2-0 victory Sunday on goals by Cyle Larin and Sam Adekugbe to take another big step toward reaching the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

Larin scored for unbeaten Canada seven minutes in, taking advantage of a short goal kick by Matt Turner for his 12th goal of the qualifying cycle. Sam Adekugbe dribbled through the American defense and beat Turner from long range in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time for his first international goal.

The U.S stumbled on the road for the fourth time in five qualifiers but remains on track to return to the World Cup if it wins its remaining two home games, the first a chilly encounter with El Salvador on Wednesday night in what could be sub-zero temperatures at St. Paul, Minnesota.

Canada beat the U.S. in qualifying for the first time since 1980 and leads North and Central America and the Caribbean with 22 points. The U.S. is second with 18 points, followed by Mexico (17), Panama (14), Costa Rica (12), Jamaica (seven), El Salvador (six) and Honduas (three).

The top three nations qualify for this year’s tournament in Qatar, and fourth place advances to a playoff against the Oceania champion, likely New Zealand.

In later games, Mexico hosted Costa Rica, Panama was home against Jamaica and Honduras hosted El Salvador.

On a cool afternoon, the game was played on the artificial turf of Tim Hortons Field, a narrow surface of 70 yards (64 meters) width. The U.S. had 63% possession and outshot Canada 13-8.

Canada went ahead after Turner’s goal kick failed to reach midfield. Kamal Miller headed the ball back toward goal and Jonathan Osorio touched ahead to Larin.

Larin exchanged passes with Jonathan David on a quick counter, turning around defender Miles Robinson, then beat Turner to the far post with a right-footed shot fom 14 yards for his Canada record 23rd international goal, one more than Dwayne De Rosario. It was the 16th career qualifying goal for Larin, who had an equalizer as Canada tied the U.S. 1-1 last September in qualifier at Nashville, Tenneesse.

Canada had gone 15 games since 1993 without scoring in the first half against the U.S., and its only win against the Americans since 1985 had been in October 2019 in the CONCACAF Nations League, ending a 34-year, 17-game winless streak in the rivalry.

Robinson and fellow defender Chris Richards were the only American outfield starters in short sleeves on a sunny but breezy 25-degree (minus-4 Celsius) day. Only two of Canada’ outfielder players wore long sleeves, David and defender Steven Vitória. Borjan wore long pants, while Turner wore shorts.

Christian Pulisic had a free kick about 25 yards in the 36th minute but sent the ball over the crossbar.

Weston McKennie nearly scored in the 43rd minute with a 6-yard header from Pulisic’s corner kick, but Milan Borjan leaped and with outstretched right hand slapped the off the underside of the crossbar. Paul Arriola’s 87th-minute bicycle kick was just wide.

A U.S. giveaway led to David’s 70th-minute shot that Turner spilled, and the goalkeeper stopped Larin’s attempt off the rebound.

Captain Tyler Adams, one of only two Americans to appear in every qualifier, came out in the 67th minute with a strained right hamstring. Chris Richards injured a foot, forcing the U.S. to finish with 10 men, and Walker Zimmerman was held out with a hamstring injury.

The U.S. has been outscored 4-2 in the first half, going scoreless in eight of 10 qualifiers, and rallied for an 11-3 advantage in the second. The Americans have one win, two losses and two draws on the road, and four victories and a draw at home.

The U.S. is likely to qualify by winning its two remaining home games, with the home finale on March 27 against Panama in Orlando, Florida. That match is between road games at Mexico and a concluding trip to Costa Rica, where the Americans have lost nine straigtht qualifiers.

Notes: CBS owned English-language U.S. video rights but declined to televise the match on a broadcast or cable network, choosing to stream it only. … Vitória is suspended for Canada’s match at El Salvador on Wednesday for his second yellow card, assessed for hacking down Pulisic in the 31st minute.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Ian Harrison, The Associated Press

 

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