Instead of giving you our player ratings, we want to know what you think. Below is a ratings form for you to fill out with ratings for each USMNT player’s performance. After a day/night of voting, we’ll tabulate the ratings and reveal them with the top rated player being named Stars and Stripes FC’s Man of the Match. Feel free to head down to the comment section and leave your thoughts on the match as a whole or give your detailed explanation of your ratings.
Canada picked up a confident 2-0 win over Panama on Thursday to advance to the Nations League final. Alphonso Davies, the 22 year-old sensation from Bayern Munich, found a second half goal to give the Canadians a comfortable lead to protect.
USMNT cruised to a 3-0 victory over Mexico on Thursday. However, red cards were plentiful in the match, and two key USA players (Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest) will not be available for the Nations League final because of it.
These sides faced each other twice in the 2022 World Cup Qualifying stage. Canada won 2-0 at home and then earned a 1-1 draw in the return game.
How USMNT plan to cover for red card absences
The USMNT weren’t able to defeat Canada during World Cup qualifying but were still able to beat their neighbors to the north en route to winning the Gold Cup in 2021. With another trophy on the line, Callaghan’s left with decisions to make but he does have considerable depth in his 23-man roster to try and limit a formidable attack that includes Jonathan David, Cyle Larin, and Alphonso Davies.
The Canucks will allow the USMNT space to operate and Callaghan is looking to utilize a fluid midfield to take advantage of that. Gio Reyna starts again while Brenden Aaronson and Musah will partner him. This brings Musah into a defacto defensive midfielder role but he’ll be flanked by two eights who also want to operate as 10s in space. If done right, it can break Canada’s defense open but not having a true defensive midfielder will require the USMNT to be deliberate in possession.
Joe Scally is the natural fill-in for Dest but Dest has been in top form for the national team even without getting much playing time at Barcelona or AC Milan. His assist to Ricardo Pepi to put the victory over Mexico out of sight was quite an impressive way to thread a ball, putting the perfect amount of weight on it to run onto but Dest also didn’t shirk his defensive responsibilities in the match either.
Scally has been a player who has struggled to break into the regular rotation for the national team and playing in this final could be what helps put him over the edge. Scally has talent both on the ball and defensively to keep up with attackers, but Canada have talented wingers in Davies and Buchanan. If Scally can avoid getting caught out, the USMNT can secure another trophy but all eyes will be on his performance.
Of course, the main question surrounding Berhalter is how will he handle Gio Reyna. The state of his relationship with Reyna after an investigation into a domestic violence incident years ago between him and his now-wife which led to a feud between the Berhalters and Gio Reyna’s family as well as blackmail allegations against the Reynas led to an investigation after the World Cup. Berhalter was deemed eligible to be a candidate to coach the team following the investigation and now that he’s back he did acknowledge that obviously there’s work to do. Right now though he maintained that Gio needs to focus on the Concacaf Nations League final against Canada and that working on the relationship is not a priority now with there being time to meet prior to the September international window.
After what has been a trying season for Reyna, he missed out on winning the title with Dortmund after losing on the final day of the season while facing injuries that kept him off the field for large stretches, he’ll need to fight for a starting spot with his club. Berhalter’s right that their relationship, while it needs to be addressed, shouldn’t be at the forefront of the 20-year-old’s mind right now as there’s plenty of time. Gio’s talent is obvious, and what happened in the past can be left there especially as the same teammates that have advocated for Berhalter have welcomed Reyna back onto the pitch. Moments like this are where Berhalter’s man management shines, because while it’s not perfect, he usually does know the right things to say in the public eye to protect his team. That’s one of the reasons that he was hired back into his position but Reyna’s performances will be chief in helping Berhalter stay in charge of the national team in the future.
A similar situation to Reyna’s is that of Ricardo Pepi who stated that he hung up on Berhalter after being told that he wouldn’t be a part of the World Cup roster. Finding his form at FC Groningen, it’s understandable why Pepi would’ve expected to go to the World Cup, but sometimes managers have other plans.
This is the first meeting between the USA and Canada in a tournament final and third overall knockout round match between the two countries. The previous two encounters came at the semifinal stage of the Gold Cup, with the USA defeating Canada on penalty kicks in 2002, before taking a 2-1 win in 2007.
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