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USMNT vs Canada: Three things we learned, recap, Man of the Match

The Pro Soccer Talk crew reviews Matchweek 3 in the Premier League, headlined by Cristiano Ronaldo's impending arrival to Manchester United and Chelsea's gutsy draw with Liverpool.

Brenden Aaronson scored the lone American goal as Gregg Berhalter’s United States men’s national team underwhelmed again in a 1-1 draw with Canada on Sunday in Nashville.

Yes, the Yanks were shorthanded for various reasons in this World Cup qualifier (injuries, positive COVID tests, Weston McKennie breaking a team rule) but the USMNT again had few real moments of danger in a game it didn’t quite need but very much should’ve had.

[ MORE: USMNT player ratings vs Canada ]

Cyle Larin scored for Canada to level the game leaving both teams on two points after two matches and making Wednesday’s trip to Honduras very, very important.

Berhalter only made one sub in the first 82 minutes and will be left to answer a great many questions about his team’s completely underwhelming start to qualifying.

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Three things we learned from USMNT vs Canada

1. Turns out Pulisic is really important: He was harrassed, fouled, and basically tracked with a magnet all night, and while there are probably a half-dozen brilliant moments on the goal, don’t sleep on the one that is Canada going out of its way to foul the American captain rather than stick with Jordan Pefok.

2. Forwards? Imagine just a few months ago if you were told the Yanks would’ve really liked to have Gyasi Zardes available for a pair of World Cup qualifiers given the glut of hopeful talent in the pool. Jordan Pefok was okay on Sunday but Josh Sargent has struggled and Timothy Weah -- not a center forward anyway -- has been out the entire window. Zardes may not be the guy you want starting against Germany in a World Cup, but he sure knows how to find goals against CONCACAF defenses.

3. Absences hamper USMNT: Ask Gregg Berhalter how he feels about his depth and he’ll likely point to injuries to Giovanni Reyna and Timothy Weah as well as COVID issues for Zack Steffen and a suspension for Weston McKennie due to COVID protocols. That last one is a bad one, and you can be sure he was hoping his teammates would get the win without him because it’ll be a major talking point moving forward. Berhalter finally made a trio of changes with eight minutes left, plugging in Konrad de la Fuente, Josh Sargent, and Cristian Roldan for Brenden Aaronson, Jordan Pefok, and Sebastian Lletget. But Canada was able to bring on Jonathan David and Jonathan Osorio amongst others, while the U.S. was genuinely shorthanded in Tennessee.

Man of the Match: Antonee Robinson

It would’ve been Tyler Adams or Brenden Aaronson had the former not taken a silly yellow card that stopped us from learning whether the latter’s incisive pass would’ve been thumped home by Robinson. But the Fulham left back was everywhere for the U.S., assisting Aaronson’s goal and demanding another start on Wednesday.

USMNT vs Canada recap

Canada had the game’s first chance via a corner kick but the U.S. soon had a free kick when Christian Pulisic drew a foul. The service wasn’t great but Canada played it out for a USMNT corner.

John Brooks and Tyler Adams set the tone early with fouls and intention, the pair combining to shut down a strong Alphonso Davies in the ninth minute.

A Brooks giveaway, however, allowed a long ball to Cyle Larin that was poorly hit and gobbled up easily by Matt Turner.

Turner was bothered much more by a Dest mistake that allowed Davies 1v1 with the keeper in tight, but Miles Robinson blocked the effort toward goal to keep it 0-0.

Pulisic drew another foul in the 16th but the free kick went for nothing. Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan was shaken up and needed trainer’s assistance in the 20th minute, and Antonee Robinson soon tested him with a left-footed hammer.

Dest then led an electric run down the left that led to a cross and a wicked deflection that forced Borjan to fly toward the top corner to slap the ball away from danger.

You’re not going to believe this: Pulisic was a part of nearly every moment of real danger for the Yanks and won a corner in the 32nd minute.

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Pefok worked a 1-2 with Pulisic off another quality Antonee Robinson long pass, but dragged his shot just wide.

Soon Aaronson and Lletget worked a terrific set-up off a long Brooks diagonal, but Pulisic’s snapped shot smacked the post.

Dest was injured just before halftime and replaced by DeAndre Yedlin.

The Yanks broke through before the hour mark when Brenden Aaronson created a turnover and the referee played advantage when Pulisic was fouled, the ball going to Kellyn Acosta for a perfect entry pass for Antonee Robinson. The Fulham man sent the ball back to the man who started it for a sliding tap-in.

Canada had it 1-1 quickly, as Yedlin was roasted by Davies. The Bayern Munich man’s pass past two sleeping center backs was snapped in by Larin for 1-1.

The Canadians were able to insert Tajon Buchanan and Jonathan David, not bad if you have them.

Adams made an influential run down the right but bodychecked Mark-Anthony Kaye away from the play just as Aaronson hit a perfect pass to set up Robinson. A scoring chance turned into a yellow card.

Follow @NicholasMendola