U.S. tops Group B after edging Canada in finale

KANSAS CITY, Kansas. – The battle for the crown of Group B was hard-fought, but it was the United States which emerged as the top seed after a tight 1-0 win over Canada in Kansas City, MI. 

The game got off to a quick start as the U.S. scored within seconds of kickoff. Midfielder Kellyn Acosta found Sebastian Lletget attacking on the left side. Lletget sent in a quick low cross to the far post and Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau dove off his line, but the ball skipped past him. Shaquell Moore made a great run into the box and one-timed the ball into the net for his first USMNT goal. It was the fastest goal scored in USA history at just 20 seconds.

From that stunning opening, the pace of the game remained high, with bodies flying around the field as the U.S. pressed to add to their advantage. In the 15th minute, U.S. captain Walker Zimmerman and Richie Laryea collided while racing hard for a ball in the box.  Zimmerman fell awkwardly and was unable to continue. He was replaced by Donovan Pines

Only a minute later, as Canadian forward Ayo Akinola raced on a breakaway, U.S. defender James Sands came in at an angle to cut off the ball, Akinola went down hard, clutching his knee. Though he tried to continue, the injury clearly affected him and he was replaced by Jonathan Osorio.

The frenetic energy of the USA would wane towards the end of the first half and Canada, which had managed to withstand it without giving up more than one goal, began to control the ball more and manage possession.

The Reds would build on that momentum at the start of the second half as they increased their pressure on the Stars and Stripes. Cyle Larin in the 46th minute with a hard, low shot tested Matt Taylor, but the goalkeeper got down well to make the stop.

Larin would suffer a knock of his own in the 53rd minute as he fell to the ground and moved gingerly upon getting up. Lucas Cavallini came in for Larin and instantly combined well with the attack to keep the pressure on the U.S. goal. The USA defense continued to bend, but it didn’t break, often allowing Canada possession near the goal, but not many clear chances. Overall, Canada outshot the U.S. 14-6 and held a 55-45 percent advantage in possession.

Goalscoring hero Moore was subbed off in the 58th minute for Reggie Cannon, who saw his first action of the tournament. In the 75th minute, U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter made a trio of subs. Jackson Yueill came on for Gianluca Busio.  Cristian Roldan came in for Acosta, while Matthew Hoppe subbed in for Zardes.

Tajon Buchanan would push Canada’s attack late, barely missing on a swerving shot in the 79th minute.  In the 80th minute, U.S. striker Daryl Dike twisted slightly while tangling arms with Laryea, but was eventually able to continue, though he often clutched his shoulder.

Although it wasn’t as straightforward as the U.S. would have liked, it will be happy with three points and topping Group B.

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