US starts Gold Cup with 2-0 win over Canada

Clint Dempsey slid across the grass and redirected Jozy

Altidore’s cross into the net. At the other end, Tim Howard

smothered one shot, then recovered in time to block another from

point-blank range.

Back among regional rivals, the Americans were very much in

their element on Tuesday night, opening their Gold Cup schedule

with a 2-0 win over Canada. The United States was routed by Spain

in an exhibition game last weekend, but all along, the focus has

been on this tournament, which determines the champion of North and

Central America and the Caribbean.

”Coming off the game against Spain, obviously, you got down a

little bit,” Altidore said. ”Now, we’ve just got to build on it,

because it’s only going to get harder from here.”

Altidore scored in the 15th minute and set up Dempsey’s goal in

the 62nd. The Americans have never lost a group stage game at the

Gold Cup.

The U.S. pressured Canada from the start. The 21-year-old

Altidore, playing his first game at a Gold Cup, scored after

running onto a long pass from Landon Donovan. Although Kevin

McKenna was back to defend, Altidore was able to turn and take a

low shot from a tough angle to the right of the goal. The ball

slipped under goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld and into the net.

There was little Hirschfeld could do about the second goal.

Altidore sent a low cross from to the right of the net, and Dempsey

was able to knock the ball in while sliding across the ground near

the far post. American Juan Agudelo was credited with an assist for

deflecting the ball on its way to Dempsey, but it was Altidore who

set up the play. He was named man of the match.

”For confidence, it was a good thing,” coach Bob Bradley said.

”The movement that led to the first goal and the cross to Dempsey

for the second both were great plays.”

Howard was impressive as well in goal, reacting marvelously to

deflect Ali Gerba’s powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area

with his right hand in the 70th minute. About 15 minutes later,

Howard smothered a shot near the edge of the 6-yard box, then made

another terrific stop on a volley by Gerba.

He finished with four saves.

”Howard was absolute magic,” Canadian coach Stephen Hart said.

”I almost clapped.”

The Americans didn’t field their best lineup in their 4-0 loss

to Spain, putting more emphasis on the Gold Cup. The tournament

champion receives a berth in the 2013 Confederations Cup, an

important World Cup tuneup.

Against Canada, Michael Bradley created an early scoring chance

off a corner kick, shooting from near the top of the penalty area,

but U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra redirected the ball wide.

Altidore put the Americans ahead soon after that, then ran to

the corner flag and kicked at it in celebration.

Oguchi Onyewu was left out of the starting lineup for the

Americans. Coach Bob Bradley went with Tim Ream and Clarence

Goodson in central defense.

”We feel that it’s a good combination,” Bob Bradley said. ”As

we’ve gone through training, we feel like the balance between the

two is good.”

After looking overmatched against Spain’s smooth passing, the

Americans didn’t allow Canada any good chances inside the penalty

area until Simeon Jackson dribbled past Ream and Bocanegra in the

57th minute. Ream was able to recover in time to prevent Jackson

from getting a shot through to the goal.

Dempsey nearly made a spectacular play at the other end in the

second half, back-heeling the ball while diving forward

horizontally after Hirschfeld deflected a cross. The ball went out

of bounds for a corner kick.

”I don’t know what you would call that,” Dempsey said. ”Maybe

a squirrel kick.”

Dempsey’s goal came not too long after that, and the Americans

held on.

Notes: Freddy Adu was not one of the 18 active players for the

U.S. … Michael Bradley received a yellow card in the 51st minute

when he tangled with Canada’s Dwayne De Rosario as the Canadians

were trying to set up a free kick. William Johnson of Canada was

booked the following minute when he fouled Jermaine Jones from

behind while the American was making a nice run through the

midfield. … Attendance was announced at 28,209. Toward the end of

the first half, an American fan club behind one of the goals began

chanting ”We can’t hear you!” at a smaller group of Canadian fans

at the opposite end. … There were visible marks on the temporary

grass surface at Ford Field by the end of Tuesday’s doubleheader,

which included two Group C matches. The other was between Panama

and Guadeloupe. Bradley was hopeful more progress can be made with

playing surfaces at indoor facilities like this one. ”Hopefully

there’s technology, there’s better ways to do it, because it’s

tough on the players,” he said.