Jozy Altidore's header in the 89th minute broke Canadian hearts and gave the United States a 1-0 win in an international friendly over its northern neighbors late Friday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA. A largely lackluster match, dominated by U.S. possession but little actual attacking menace, changed from a scoreless draw to an American victory on a beautiful cross from substitute Ethan Finlay.
The Columbus Crew star curled in a perfect in-swinging cross that found the lethal noggin of Altidore, who made no mistake, beating Maxime Crepeau and sending the American Outlaws home happy. Altidore was a deserving recipient of a goal after creating several chances and coming close multiple times. He was always the likeliest player on the pitch to score and, a minute from stoppage time, he did so.
Here's the winning goal:
Orlando City striker Cyle Larin was subbed off in the 77th minute without having scored or really getting any good chances, but he was isolated up top for Canada and his teammates largely bunkered behind him and played much of the game in their own half.
Larin, wearing his new No. 9, may not have had any clear-cut chances but he looked fast and his movement was good. In the first half, he drew a yellow card on defender Matt Besler, who had to chop him down to keep the Canadian striker from running by him on a quick change of possession as the game approached intermission. He nearly drew a second yellow when Jermaine Jones threw him down moments later to prevent a counter-attack.
If not for the tantalizing setup by Finlay, it would have been a frustrating night for Altidore, who buzzed around the net all night long, including two good chances less than 10 minutes from the end of regulation. In the 81st minute, Altidore fired a free kick wide from just outside the box. In the 83rd, Michael Bradley found Jozy with a glorious long ball but Altidore's chip was batted away by a scrambling Crepeau and out for a corner.
In the 55th, Jozy blasted a right-footed shot that Crepeau parried. Moments earlier his header went just wide and was a smidge too far forward for Jordan Morris to nod home.
The USMNT's best chance of the first half came in the late stages on a lovely chip from Altidore to send in Jordan Morris. With Crepeau in his face, Morris tried to lob a shot over him but it sailed just wide. Moments later, Bradley stung a left-footed shot from outside the box but Crepeau was able to handle it cleanly.
Right back Steve Birnbaum had a solid first half, drawing a corner kick with a dangerous cross and nearly converting that corner into a goal with a solid header that unfortunately found its way too close to Crepeau. Altidore also hit the near post from the corner of the six-yard box with a rocket shot that Crepeau got a hand on.
Goalkeeper David Bingham and defender Brandon Vincent made their USMNT debuts. Bingham kept a clean sheet without being tested much. Vincent came on at the half for left back Kellyn Acosta, who tweaked a hamstring. Both were fine in their debuts.
The USMNT will be back in action in late March with a pair of World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala. The two nations will square off March 25 in Guatemala City and March 29 in Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, OH.