Gregg Berhalter on Canada: “Canada did a great job of getting through qualifying and that’s not easy to do what they had to do, winning that many games over a short period of time under adverse conditions in the heat of the summer.” (Photo courtesy of U.S. Soccer)
If Canada was hoping that Gregg Berhalter would say something that would allow the team to put up on its locker room wall before Sunday’s confrontation, well, the Maple Leafs will be greatly disappointing.
The U.S. men’s national team coach had nothing but praise for his opponents in the Concacaf Gold Cup Group B finale at Children’s Mercy Park at 5 p.m. (FOX).
Up for grabs the group title, which will allow the winner to avoid Mexico in the semifinals, assuming that team gets that far.
Regardless what transpires, the teams will meet twice during the final Concacaf round of World Cup qualifying. The U.S. men’s national team will host the Canadians in Nashville, Tenn. Sept. 5.
Canada qualified for the final round for the first time since the 1998 qualifying tournament.
“I’m really happy that Canada’s in the final qualifying group,” Berhalter said. “I think they’ve done a great job of getting to this point. I’m not happy because I want to face [Canada]. I’m happy for the group for the players, a lot of players that we’re familiar with. Got a lot of respect for those guys, It’s been nice seeing them grow over the last five years.
“It’s a good team. They made some adjustments in the formation that really play to their strengths. If you look at the development of their player pool similar to ours it’s young players. They’ve really taken that next step and arrived on the international level.”
The Canadians enter the match on an eight-game winning streak that began during WCQ. During those eight matches, they have outscored their opposition, 37-4.
“Canada did a great job of getting through qualifying and that’s not easy to do what they had to do, winning that many games over a short period of time under adverse conditions in the heat of the summer,” Berhalter said. “So, I’ve got a lot of respect for what they did and it’s great to have them in the qualifying.”
Definitely not locker room wall material.
Perhaps for the team’s scrapbooks.