Folarin Balogun scored his first goal in a United States uniform and Gio Reyna had two assists as the United States retained its CONCACAF Nations League title with a 2-0 win over Canada on Sunday.
Chris Richards headed home Raina’s corner kick in the 12th minute and 22 minutes later Raina was given more space at the top of the box and fed Balogun to double from 10 yards with a powerful finish. Leading.
Raina had one goal, three assists and two assists in two Nations League finals, more goal contributions in tournament finals than any other player in USMNT history. However, Raina was ruled out of the game at half-time with a calf injury.
The first half was largely dominated by the US, with several chances outside of the two goals. Canada forced Turner into a big save in the 39th minute, but for the most part the U.S. was in control.
Canada saw a little more play early in the second half, but the U.S. again created chances. In a three-minute sequence from the 54th to the 56th minute, Balogan’s shot was blocked for a corner, Richards’ header deflected off the crossbar and Balogan’s shot from close range was cleared off the goal line. Ciel Laurin fired a shot over the crossbar in the 67th minute that would have halved the score. Jonathan David also had a look in the 94th minute, but Canada couldn’t convert.
With the win, the U.S. has now won trophies in its last three CONCACAF tournaments. The USA defeated Mexico in the 2021 Nations League final to win the 2021 Gold Cup, defeating El Tri in that final as well.
What does this victory mean for America?
It’s been a busy week in Las Vegas. The first was a highly eventful and intense 3-0 win over rivals Mexico in Thursday night’s semi-final. Then, Greg Berhalter returns as the men’s national team coach, it was announced Friday. Finally, a decisive win against Canada, who topped CONCACAF’s World Cup qualifiers last spring.
In terms of success, for now, the U.S. claims to be the best team in the region — and should defend that moniker again at the Gold Cup, albeit with a team missing all of its big names. For this American team, a 2021 Nations League victory would be the moment to confirm that the team is headed in the right direction.
These games are all about carrying the momentum forward from Qatar, and capturing another Nations League trophy certainly did that. — Tenorio
What went wrong with Canada?
Canada was woefully unprepared for the athleticism and offensive prowess the Americans offered. Canada’s center backs in particular had little answer for the U.S., especially at set pieces, and one has to question John Herdman’s choice to start Scott Kennedy over Steven Vitoria.
However, their problems weren’t limited to defending: when the likes of Alphonso Davis were able to find space behind America’s defenders, there was a lack of creativity and coordination in the final drive. More worryingly if you’re Canada, the team’s performance in both boxes was identified as a major area of concern coming out of the World Cup.
The same concerns resurfaced in their first final in 23 years. — scholarly
What is happening to Canada and the United States now?
Both the USA and Canada will now be leading the way for the Gold Cup. The U.S. begins camp in Chicago this week and hosts Jamaica in the opening game on June 24. Canada begins its tournament on June 27.
The US will be playing a very different roster in that tournament. Five players from this Nations League team will participate in the Gold Cup: Sean Johnson, Matt Turner, Myles Robinson, Alan Sonora and Alex Zentejas.
Like the U.S., Canada will not bring a full-strength team to the Gold Cup, and Davis has already said in camp that he will not play in the upcoming tournament. It will take some of the sparkle out of the match, and Herdmann won’t have another chance to make the right tactical changes when it matters to his team.
Ahead of the 2024 Copa America, assuming Canada qualifies, continued improvements will need to be made from the coaching staff to prove they can get the best of their most talented men’s national team players. — scholarly
(Photo: Lucas Peltier / USA Today)