United States vs. Canada, international friendly
Date and Location
Sunday June 3, at Toronto’s BMO Field
Watch the game live on all four Sportsnet channels starting at 7pm ET/4pm PT
Setting the scene
It’s never just a friendly when Canada and the U.S. play each other in any sport, but Canadian coach Stephen Hart was quick to downplay the rivalry this week. Hart isn’t interested in the final result as much as he is preparing his team for the upcoming World Cup qualifying matches.
Sunday’s affair is Canada’s final tune-up before it plays a pair of crucial World Cup qualifiers against Cuba (June 8 in Havana) and Honduras (June 12 in Toronto).
Hart views this match as an opportunity to do some team building and try to improve the chemistry between the players ahead of the trip to Havana — and not as a chance to tinker with his lineup or to try new things.
“I think the time for experimenting is finished,” Hart said.
“We had a series of games in the (previous) round of qualifying (and) due to injuries or unforeseen circumstances I had a lot of different players go through that system. But now we know what we need to do and any thought of changes (is) not necessary now.”
To that end, Hart isn’t getting wrapped up in the hoopla around the match or focusing on stopping the Americans. He insists it’s important for Canada to play its game, especially with the Cuba match on the horizon.
“I told the players I don’t want to focus on us designing a complete plan to stop the U.S. form playing and then when you go down to Cuba you have to play your game,” Hart said. “We have to come out there with an attitude that we play our game and with the qualities that we’re good at, and be consistent.”
And while he would certainly take a win over the U.S, Hart maintains Sunday is a dress rehearsal for Cuba.
“The reality is we’re going into our World Cup qualifying and we’re tried to downplay this game in the sense that it’s a preparation game for Cuba. We want to be totally focused on going away from home and playing Cuba. The players deep down want to come out and perform and I’m sure the fans (want to see that) but we have to be realistic. We need to go into qualifying and come away with points this month,” Hart explained.
News and notes
Hart revealed after the team’s Saturday training session that midfielder Atiba Hutchinson is dealing with a knee injury and likely won’t play against the U.S. and is questionable for the Cuba match… Lars Hirschfeld will start in net for Canada against the U.S… American forward Clint Dempsey is questionable because of a groin injury… Sunday’s match is a part of the Canadian Soccer Association’s centennial celebration. The Canadian team will wear a special retro blue jersey that pays tribute to the first Canada-U.S. match played on Canadian spoil on June 27, 1925, in Montreal. Canada won that game 1-0 courtesy of a goal by Ed MacLaine… Canada and the U.S have met over 30 times at senior level, but the only previous match in Toronto was on June 22, 1957 at Varsity Stadium. Canada won the World Cup qualifying match 5-1… The most recent meeting saw the U.S. win 2-0 in Detroit at last year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup…
Player to watch for Canada
Simeon Jackson: The Canadian forward is coming off a mixed season with Norwich City in the Premiership — he didn’t play all that often but when he did he looked sharp for the Canaries. It’ll be interesting to see if his lack of playing time will adversely affect his form for Canada.
Player to watch for the U.S.
Landon Donovan: Considered the U.S.’s best player, the L.A. Galaxy star scored a hat trick in the Americans’ recent 5-1 win over Scotland. He’s a dangerous player that the Canadian defence will have to keep close tabs on.
Dwayne de Rosario vs. Landon Donovan: With Dempsey questionable, it’ll be up to Donovan to lead the offensive charge for the Americans. De Rosario has been on a hot streak for DC United in MLS this season, and with Hutchinson out it’ll be up to him to probe the Canadian attack forward.
The Canadian perspective
“We create chances but we’re not clinical enough … We need more (of a) killer instinct in the penalty area for sure.” – coach Stephen Hart
The American perspective
“Sunday is about a celebration, but also a match-up and a rivalry and having and exciting game for both sides. Five days later (in World Cup qualifying) it’s about getting the job done.” – coach Jurgen Klinsmann
Canada travels to Havana to take on Cuba on June 8 in a World Cup qualifying match. Four days later the Canadians host Honduras in another qualifier back in Toronto.