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Leaking Late: Canada Lose Tight Friendly Match to the United States

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Canada were minutes away from grabbing a third straight draw against the United States, but instead suffered their first loss since the summer.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Late in the second half last night Doneil Henry, realizing he was beat, grabbed Jozy Altidore's jersey with both hands and held on for dear life. It was the friendly match between Canada and the USA in a microcosm: les rouges trying its best to just hold on as the Americans gave them all they could handle.

But Canada would lose their grip right before the finish line. An Altidore header in the 89th minute would give the United States a 1-0 victory. After all their work Canada couldn't hold on for a third straight scoreless draw against the Americans.

Nonetheless it was a good performance, and one that the team can take positives out of going into next month's World Cup qualifiers. Not getting the result is tough, but there was nothing on the line save for pride so it really isn't that damaging.

That won't be the case, however, should this happen again in March and that is the real concern: will Canada be able to hold off the best team in CONCACAF. They will have their best roster, sure, but "almost" getting points won't be good enough this time around.

That's the problem with Benito Floro's system. If it steals points against Mexico it will be regarded as genius.  When the other team scores a late goal it looks like it has all been a foolish waste of time. It also, evidently, means goals and chances are going to be few and far between, not that Canada was some great attacking side prior to Floro.

Yesterday Canada really did have very little going forward, with a third straight draw against the US looking like the match's destiny. Cyle Larin was the lone attacking bright spot as he held up the ball well, but had no support. Without a creative player like Junior Hoilett Canada's attack flat lined.

The biggest positive of the game was obvious: Max Crepeau. The 21-year-old Montreal Impact keeper was outstanding as he turned aside several American chances. While young keepers can sometimes struggle with the pressure of the international game he was calm and confident from the start.

In front of him, however, it was a different story as a makeshift Canadian backline struggled. On the wings they were fairly strong, at least while Marcel De Jong and Nik Ledgerwood were playing. But in the middle Steven Vitoria didn't make much of a case for starting against Mexico in his debut.

Doneil Henry made his return to the Canadian national team after a year away, but bizarrely was once again played as a right back. With the exception of one blazing run in which he beat a couple of US players, Henry once again struggled in his non-natural position.

It wasn't the only odd tactical move that Floro made late in the match. At one point he had both Sam Adekugbe and De Jong on the field as Canada seemed to almost be playing two left backs. Iain Hume also didn't really seem to have a defined role when coming on, and was all over the park.

After this match Canada won't go riding high into their World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, but this result will hardly crush their confidence either. This took nothing away from a side that still has 4 points, and is still in a position to advance in World Cup qualifiers.

March will also see Canada with several factors that they did not have today. The midfield will include Atiba Hutchinson, the best player on the team and could even see Scott Arfield. Up front the team will have Junior Hoilett and will also have what promises to be a massive pro-Canadian crowd at BC Place.

So Canada need to take this for what it was: a good, not great, performance with a disappointing result that allowed them to learn some things about their team. All eyes are now on Mexico, and whether or not Canada can see a result through against them.