Chris Richards and Folarin Balogun chose Sunday night to score their first international goals for the U.S. men’s national team as they repeated as champions of the Concacaf Nations League with their win over Canada at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
After a dominant win over Mexico on Thursday, the Americans were looking to make a statement against their opponents from north of the border as they suffered a 2-0 defeat last year in a World Cup qualifier.
U.S. interim head coach BJ Callaghan made several changes to the starting eleven from the Mexico game. Joe Scally and Brendn Aaronson were brought into the lineup to replace the suspended duo of Sergino Dest and Weston McKennie, while Walker Zimmerman partnered with Richards in the backline ahead of Miles Robinson.
The Americans were on the attack early as Gio Reyna had a chance to open the scoring three minutes in, but his attempt was grabbed by Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan. Five minutes later Zimmerman showed off his striking ability with a wicked volley that went just wide of the post.
After a bit of end-to-end play, the U.S. was awarded a corner in the 12th minute and Richards punished Canada for unmarked as Reyna’s ball found the center-back in the middle of the box to head past Borjan.
Reyna once again showed his ability to set teammates for chances at goal when he assisted on the team’s second goal on the night in the 34th minute. The midfielder took a headed pass from Tim Weah and dribble towards the area before releasing Balogun with a through ball that the newly-capped forward powered his shot home.
Canada tried to get themselves back in the game as they tested the U.S. backline. However, Matt Turner was on the spot to keep the ball out of the goal.
Weah nearly came close to grabbing a goal himself in the 43rd minute with a long-range strike that was set up by Christian Pulisic, but Borjan did well to parry it away from danger.
The U.S. did not let up on the pressure as both teams came out in the second half as they have a couple of chances that could have extended their lead. However, they did the job as they held on and made sure the Nations League trophy remained on American soil.
Most of the European-based players will now head off for their summer vacations, while Callaghan gets the next unit prepared to defend their Concacaf Gold Cup crown with their first game in Group A against Jamaica.