The United States Men's National team wraps up its winter training camp as it takes on Canada in an international friendly on February 5th. The U.S. is coming off an unconvincing 3-2 victory against Iceland and will look for a better performance against the 88th ranked Canucks.
The Canadians most recent match was a 2018 World Cup Qualifier against El Salvador, in November and it finished in a 0-0 draw. Both teams will use this match to prepare for March 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
The United States will be without defenders Brad Evans and Michael Orozco, who have returned to their respective clubs, as well as Matt Miazga who recently joined Chelsea. Canada, like the U.S., is missing many regulars due to this match taking place outside of FIFA International dates.
Defenders (7): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Eric Miller (Montreal Impact), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire)
Midfielders (8): Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Jermaine Jones (Unattached), Perry Kitchen (Unattached), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Tony Tchani (Columbus Crew SC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)
Forwards (6): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Khiry Shelton (New York City FC), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
Goalkeepers (3): Maxime Crépeau (Impact Montréal), Callum Irving (University of Kentucky), Tyson Farago (FC Edmonton)
Defenders (8): Mallan Roberts (FC Edmonton), Karl W. Ouimette (New York Red Bulls), Steven Vitória (Benfica), Wandrille Lefèvre (Impact Montréal), Nik Ledgerwood (Edmonton), Samuel Adekugbe (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Doneil Henry (West Ham United), Adam Straith (Fredrikstad FK)
Midfielders (9): Julian de Guzman (Ottawa Fury FC), Iain Hume (Unattached), Will Johnson (Toronto FC), Kyle Bekker (Impact Montréal), Issey Nakajima-Farran (Terengganu FA), Jamar Dixon (FF Jaro), Marco Bustos (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Kianz Froese (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Marcel De Jong (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards (3): Cyle Larin (Orlando City SC), Caleb Clarke (Unattached), Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas)
Canada has been gradually improving under Spanish manager Benito Flores, yet will be a massive underdog against the U.S.. The team has become more comfortable controlling the ball despite rarely dominating possession.
Flores has deployed a 4-3-3 in the Canucks' past two matches, although as two of the three regular starting forwards aren't on the roster expect a different formation. Flores is likely to deploy a 4-4-2 with Cyle Larin and Tesho Akindele up top; however he may opt for a more defensive 4-5-1 with Larin as the lone striker.
Expect Canada to sit back and defend against the U.S. The Canadians will likely rely on catching the U.S. on the counter attack and Cyle Larin will stay high up the field in order to provide an option for the quick counter.
The star players on this Canadian roster are Orlando City forward Cyle Larin and former Philadelphia Union centerback Steven Vitória. MLS Rookie of the Year Cyle Larin had a stellar rookie season with Orlando, breaking the rookie scoring record with 17 goals. The physical forward will be the focal point of the Canadian offense and should be a handful for fellow MLS players Matt Besler and Steve Birnbaum.
Steven Vitória is a towering 6'5'' centerback who currently plays for Benfica and is dominant in the air. Despite Vitória's aerial presence he can be a liability as he is quite slow. The U.S. is unlikely to have much success in the air against Vitória and should instead look to exploit his lack of pace.
The U.S. will be heavy favorites in this match and Jurgen Klinsmann could choose to field a highly experimental lineup, although it seems more likely Klinsmann will stick with a team similar to the one that faced Iceland. Klinsmann will almost certainly deploy a 4-4-2.
While Luis Robles doesn't deserve much blame for the two goals (he was too close to the near post on the second goal, but the defense and midfield failed to react to the quick free-kick) against Iceland, Klinsmann is likely to start Sean Johnson. Johnson has more national team experience than Robles and seems to be higher on the goalkeeping depth chart.
Steve Birnbaum should also start, due to the departure of other centerbacks and his offensive excellence against Iceland. Matt Polster should get the nod at right-back as he has played there for the U-23 USMNT and this roster lacks a natural right-back.
Gyasi Zardes struggled to have much of an impact against Iceland, although it's doubtful that Klinsmann drops him. While Zardes may play forward again it seems more likely that he is used as a wide midfielder. If Zardes plays in the midfield look for Jordan Morris to play up top with Jozy Altidore.
The USMNT needs to be better in possession and should have no trouble controlling the ball against a weak Canadian side. While the U.S. had a concerning defensive performance against Iceland, it should have no trouble defeating Canada. I predict that the U.S. wins 3-1.