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USMNT vs. Canada: Top Storylines and Predictions for 2023 Gold Cup

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    CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JULY 02: Jesús Ferreira #9 of the United States takes a penalty kick during the first half of a Group A - 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup match against Trinidad and Tobagoat Bank of America Stadium on July 02, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Andy Mead/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

    Andy Mead/USSF/Getty Images for USSF

    The United States men’s national team faces Canada for the second time in a month on Sunday in the Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinals.

    The Americans last met the Canadians in the Concacaf Nations League semifinal, a match they won with their first-team players.

    At the Gold Cup, the Americans used a mix of fringe players and U-20 stars looking to make their mark on the senior team.

    The USMNT finished off the group stage with 12 goals in two games against Saint Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago. Jesus Ferreira scored consecutive hat-tricks in those contests.

    Canada went through an underwhelming group stage in which it drew with Guadeloupe and Guatemala. Those results relegated the Canadians to second place in Group D behind Guatemala.

    Like the USMNT, Canada does not have many of its top stars available at the Gold Cup because the European club preseason is right around the corner.

    Canada must be firmer in defense to handle Ferreira and Co. and spring an upset over the USMNT inside TQL Stadium in Cincinnati.

Can Jesus Ferreira Keep Up Scoring Run?

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    CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JULY 02: Jesús Ferreira #9 of United States attempts a shot on the goal during the first half of the Concacaf Gold Cup match against the Trinidad and Tobago at Bank of America Stadium on July 02, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by David Jensen/Getty Images)

    David Jensen/Getty Images

    Ferreira comes into Sunday as the Gold Cup Golden Boot leader.

    The FC Dallas striker powered a trio of tallies past the USMNT’s two weakest Group A opponents. Brandon Vazquez, who has been used off the bench, scored the lone American goal against Jamaica.

    Ferreira’s USMNT goal-scoring record can be scrutinized because of the lack of quality opponents he scored against.

    Five of his 14 goals were scored against Trinidad and Tobago. He has four versus Grenada and three came against Saint Kitts and Nevis.

    Ferreira’s lone tally against one of the top teams in Concacaf occurred in an April 2023 friendly against Mexico.

    The 22-year-old can silence whatever critics he may have by continuing his run against Canada, who is fighting with the USMNT and Mexico for the top spot in the region.

    USMNT interim manager B.J. Callaghan should start Ferreira once again up top, and there is potential for him to feast against a Canadian defense that was average at best in the group stage.

Will Canada’s Defense Improve?

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    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 15: Steven Vitoria of Canada during the CONCACAF Nations League Semi Final between Panama and Canada at Allegiant Stadium on June 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.(Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)

    Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

    Canada’s stunning second-place finish in Group D can mostly be credited to a lackluster defense.

    The Canadians conceded twice in their group opener against Guadeloupe and then let up two penalties to Cuba in the group finale.

    Canada enters the eight-team knockout round with the second-highest goals against total of the qualified teams. Only Costa Rica, who lost to Mexico on Saturday, let in more tallies in the group stage.

    The back line was supposed to be Canada’s strengths entering the Gold Cup since it carried a handful of experienced players, like Steven Vitoria, Richie Laryea and Kamal Miller.

    Canada’s attack produced six goals in the group stage, but it may not carry the same firepower against an American back line that conceded once in Group A.

    If Junior Hoilett and Co. struggle to create chances, the Canadian defense must be at its best to avoid an early concession or two that dooms it to a loss before halftime.

Prediction

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    ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - JUNE 28: Matt Miazga #4 of the United States passes the ball during the second half of a Group A match of the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup against Saint Kitts and Nevis at CITYPARK on June 28, 2023 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by John Dorton/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

    John Dorton/USSF/Getty Images for USSF

    United States 3, Canada 0

    The USMNT holds advantages with an in-form striker and a defense that conceded once in 270 minutes.

    Ferreira should be in the mix for another goal or two, which would put him in terrific position to win the Golden Boot. Only Panama’s Ismael Diaz is within two goals of Ferreira.

    The American back line will have a tougher challenge against Canada than it did against T&T and Saint Kitts and Nevis, but it is still capable of producing a clean sheet.

    Canada failed to score in its toughest Group D game against Guatemala, and that is a concerning sign for its ability to pose a challenge to the USMNT.

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