USMNT Player Grades: Pulisic Against Canada’s 2-0 World Cup Qualifier Defeat for Canada

Canada proved CONCACAF’s class as they topped the United States 2-0 in Toronto after goals from Cyle Larin and Sam Adekugbe, giving the hosts an emphatic victory over the United States for the first time since 1980.

The American players were second best throughout the match, and Gregg Berhalter tried a number of approaches without success. Any combination or tactical approach was rejected as the United States emptied its arsenal and stood empty.

While Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams once again presented a promising midfield performance, no one else could step forward and leave the United States without a spark. Christian Pulisic was particularly weak, unable to produce any of the magic that gave him a switch to the European champions.

MORE: How Canada beat the United States in a historic qualifier

Here is a summary of each USMNT Starter’s performance in the loss to Canada:

USMNT Player Ratings Vs. El Salvador

GK Matt Turner: 6

Turner was skewed on social media for his short goal kick that led to the early Canada goal, but given the whirling winds and the cold weather conditions, it’s hard to blame him for the defensive mistakes that led to the final goal.

Overall, Turner did not do anything explicitly bad in the first half, but he also did not move up and make any big saves or show off some sparkling moments. In the second half, his double save was fantastic, but it should never have been necessary as he wasted the first chance, a shot that should have been squeezed.

DF Sergino Dest: 5

The Barcelona man, who was sharp against El Salvador, failed to produce any moments of brilliance on the right flank, but he was also targeted by the Canadian attack early and often, the victim of several cases of true physicality. He could not handle the Canadian physicality, and that meant he was not able to produce too many chances out there next door. The American breadth was devoid of poison in this game.

MORE: Updated CONCACAF qualification standings, schedule and results

DF Chris Richards: 5

After an unconvincing performance against El Salvador, Richards was surprisingly included in the starting lineup for the second game in a row. It was again unconvincing, and although Richards was not directly to blame for the Canada goal, as Robinson was, he still took some blame, stepping up on David’s assist and failing to block the pass, leaving his center-back just one against. -one with Larin.

DF Miles Robinson: 4

Robinson has become one of the first names on Gregg Berhalter’s squad over the past year or two, and so it came as a surprise after he was left out of the final match against El Salvador. Robinson was brought back into the fold against Canada and had a nightmare moment that ultimately cost the team points.

The former Syracuse defender was to blame for Canada’s goal, completely confused by a simple one-two between Cyle Larin and Jonathan David, Canada’s two premiere attack threats. When Larin got the ball back from David, Robinson was almost planted on the turf, unable to hold his footing while being turned around. From such a tactical and physically strong player, it is a conspicuous mistake that has cost the team a result.

DF Antonee Robinson: 5

After a heroic performance as the goal-scoring star in the El Salvador match, the Jedi were completely invisible against Canada. He had a big task, assigned matchup with Jonathan David on the American left flank, but he was ineffective going forward, completing only 64 percent of his passes and failing to create a single chance. A disappointing flop.

MF Weston McKennie: 7

McKennie was one of the few American players who delivered a usable performance. He had energy and intent, even late when the United States was pushing for an equalizer. He seemed to accept more defenders and created more chances both in the middle and out in the width.

After this pair of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, not many USMNT players stood out from the crowd, but McKennie probably delivered the best combined performance.

Also, his ability to emerge in the penalty area for both club and country is evolving into a true weapon.

MF Tyler Adams: 6

One of the most valuable players in the USMNT player pool, Adams once again proved his worth as a calming presence in midfield. He lacked something defensive, but was overall one of the most positive American players throughout the match.

Unfortunately, it ended in a bang when Adams went out injured with 20 minutes left and it looked like he was struggling with a hamstring problem. Adams has been plagued by injuries over the past two years and this is just another one in the long line. Hopefully he can recover for the last three internationals at the end of March as he is a critical piece in the puzzle.

MF Yunus Musah: 5

Through two matches in this World Cup qualifier window, Musah has not really shown much. He did a lot of dirty work against El Salvador, but when he was asked to produce something more against Canada, he came up empty handed. Mark-Anthony Kaye did well to frustrate Musah before the Canadian left at the hour mark. And although Musah was more influential after Kaye’s departure, he was still unable to really influence the match, and was replaced by Paul Arriola.

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FW Christian Pulisic: 5

After looking devoid of confidence against El Salvador, Pulisic’s performance was worse against Canada. Again, it’s important to keep in mind how much attention Pulisic attracts from opponents on a game-to-game basis. Yet his show was far from what one might expect from the US star striker.

Pulisic’s set pieces – both free kicks and corner kicks – were out of the mark through the first half. He consistently left short corners and put a dangerous free kick far above the crossbar. His swinging corner to Weston McKennie at the end of the first half was his only good delivery the entire match. It forced the match’s most difficult save by Canada’s goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

Add to that his inability to create anything for himself or others from open play, including his heavy touch that ended a good attacking threat around 35 minutes, and it was the second in a row forgettable performance from Pulisic. After the wave of substitutions with 20 minutes left, Pulisic looked better in No. 10 spot, but overall, his form has become really worrying.

FW Brenden Aaronson: 5

It looked like Aaronson was the most promising American striker through the first half, but he had a big mistake in the second half with an opportunity to equalize. He broke free with the whole goal to shoot at and put the shot right into Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan’s stomach.

Later, he got another outburst opportunity, but was rejected by Alistair Johnston in the penalty area.

Aaronson generally played well, but his inability to finish chances or draw teammates into the mix limited his positive influence.

FW Gyasi Zardes: 5

Again, Ricardo Pepi stood back on the bench, this time for veteran Zardes. While the conventional mindset was that Zardes provided a more physical presence in a struggle that required physicality, Zardes was completely ineffective.

We will not go so far as to blame Gyasi for the Canada goal, which started on an unchallenged goal kick in midfield as he did more than other teammates let ball on the game. Zardes delivered a little in front of the net and did not contribute at all to any of the positive attacking moments.

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