March 24, 2012
TAKING NOTHING FOR GRANTED
U.S. respects, ready for Canada
By Michael Lewis
NASHVILLE -- The U.S. Under-23 national team may be in a high perch after its 6-0 Group A triumph over Cuba in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament, but the Americans are taking nothing for granted entering Saturday's match with Canada.
The Americans can clinch a second-round berth with a win over their northern rivals. In fact, they can win the group with a victory over the Canadians, if El Salvador and Cuba play to a draw in the first game of the LP Field doubleheader.
But no one is celebrating yet.
"We're staying grounded," U.S. defender Perry Kitchen said prior to practice at Lipscomb University on Friday. "Canada's going to be a tough game. It's a pretty big rivalry. We're definitely not taking it lightly."
The Canadians played El Salvador to a scoreless draw on Thursday and as the Central Americans outplayed them, especially in the second half. Only the fine goalkeeping of Michal Misiewicz kept Canada from a loss. Canada desperately needs at least one point to keep its hopes alive.
"You've still got to be confident that you're going to get by the guy, even when the goalkeeper's hot if it's a good shot it's going in the goal," U.S. coach Caleb Porter said. "But we looked good, for sure. He's certainly not going to be a weak link."
The Canadians realize they will have their hands full.
"The next game is going to be a tough one," Canaa coach Tony Fonseca said. It's a very good team. United States is playing strong, a lot of experienced players playing in MLS. They have a lot going for them. They play at home. They will have all the support."
It will be interesting to see what sort of lineup Porter deploys. Since every team must play three games in five days in the opening round. Rest is eseential.
"That's part of the challenge," Kitchen said. "We're doing everything we can to make sure we stay recovered. It's not easy, just getting as much rest as you possibly can and being smart."
Photo: U.S. defender Perry Kitchen: "We're staying grounded. Canada's going to be a tough game. It's a pretty big rivalry. We're definitely not taking it lightly."