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SANDY, Utah — Playing a man down for the second half was too much to handle for Canada’s under-23 soccer team on Tuesday night.
Canadian captain Sam Piette agreed the second yellow card of the game and a subsequent ejection to teammate Giuliano Frano was a turning point in their 2-0 loss to the United States in a CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.
The loss eliminates Canada’s chances of qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The U.S. will face Colombia in a home-and-away series in March with the winner moving onto Rio.
“I won’t talk about the referee and stuff like that but I don’t think they were on our side but we can’t use that as an excuse,” Piette said.
“But it’s tough to go into a game when we have a plan to be defensively pretty good and compact and wait for the end of the game to try and attack over there and then when you get a man down at halftime it’s tough to follow the plan.”
Frano received the second yellow in the 45th minute after a challenge on American forward Marc Pelosi.
Pelosi got the U.S. on the board in the 69th minute after a corner kick went off a pair of players in front of the net before reaching Pelosi at the top of the 18-yard box. His shot was deflected off Canada’s Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare and into the net.
Jerome Kiesewetter gave the U.S. a two-goal lead in the 84th minute when he was awarded a penalty shot after being taken down in the box by Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. Kiesewetter made no mistake — putting his shot into the right-hand corner of the net.
“We need these kind of tournaments for our players to grow and gain experience,” Canada’s head coach Benito Floro said. “Our players have grown both collectively and individually throughout the competition.”
The United States pressured the Canadians for the majority of the match, forcing Canada to play some tough defence.
Crepeau made some big stops in the 61st minute with the Americans pressing, coming out to poke the ball loose from U.S. striker Jordan Morris. Crepeau followed that up in the 81st with another nice save — punching a Pelosi shot over the net.
One of Canada’s better chances in the second half came in the 55th minute when forward Michael Petrasso took on four Americans on the right wing.
Canada’s Olympic drought continues with the loss. The Canadians haven’t reached the Olympics since the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, despite being one win away from making it in 2012. In similar fashion to this year, Canada lost in the semifinals to Mexico. The Mexicans would go on to win gold at the London Games.
Mexico beat Honduras 2-0 in the tournament’s final later Tuesday, although both teams had already guaranteed themselves a spot in next summer’s Olympic Games as the tournament’s top two teams.
“We knew if we just played how we always play against Canada, we were going to come out with a win and we did that,” Pelosi said. “They didn’t have many chances. We dominated the game and we’re happy we’re still on the road to Rio.”
Canada created just three total shots in 90 minutes. The U.S. fared out much better, getting nine shots on goal out of 15 total shots in the final 45 minutes. The Americans outshot Canada 13-2 in the first half with three of those shots reaching goal.
— With files from The Associated Press
The Canadian Press
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