The soccer news starts with an unexpected scenario for the USMNT in the November window. Canada sits atop Nations League A, group A with 9 points and a +9 goal difference from three games played. After their 2-0 loss to Canada in Toronto, the USMNT has 3 points and a +5 goal difference from two games. The USMNT and Canada meet on November 15 in Orlando with Canada in position to take group A with a win or a draw. For the USMNT, the job is making their finale against Cuba in the Cayman Islands on November 19 count.
What got the USMNT in this situation was Canada living up to the pregame hype. Treating one game like a cup final worked for them in Toronto. What that means moving forward is as much up to the United States as it is to Canada. It's a scenario where Canada has 3 points left to add in November while the USMNT plays for 6. If the USMNT wins in Orlando, it shifts the focus to the second matchday at Truman Bodden Sports Complex. Canada visited that facility in September, only beating Cuba 1-0.
That's the tournament theory side of what happened in Nations League A in October. As expected given Canada's dominance at home, there's more to it for the USMNT. Losing at BMO Field raises plenty of questions in need of quick answers. Coach Gregg Berhalter's commitment to a system and specific roles is once again at the top of that list. Berhalter has yet to get his proof of concept under pressure. At the Gold Cup, Mexico won the only game that really counted for both teams. Mexico won again in September. Now, it's overcoming the Canada situation.
How Berhalter gets his team there is another question. Playing to his roster's strengths should be enough to get three points in Orlando, but it also should've been enough to get something against Canada at BMO Field. That's the predicament for a system coach when the results aren't there.
An answer is the USMNT doing the basic things with a bit of flair. That was Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough's response when tactics got a little too clever. In Concacaf, that still holds. This isn't a region that requires thinking through the game and its myriad of possibilities. It's a direct response style of soccer where the skill players more often than not make the difference.
SI.com's Avi Creditor highlights Canada's focus on a result at home. ESPN's Jeff Carlisle questions Berhalter's use of the word "desire" in his post-game comments. Yahoo Sports' Leander Schaerlaeckens with how Canada turned this into a rivalry. The Athletic's Sam Stejskal asks what the USMNT takes from a Nations League loss. The Guardian's Tom Dart questions Berhalter's insistence on process.
The Sacramento Bee's Tony Bizjak and Marcos Breton report that their city will get an MLS expansion team. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Doug Roberson looks at Atlanta switching from the regular season to the playoffs.
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