By Mike Slane, Goal.com
Let's mark this one down as nothing more than a glorified practice session between two neighboring countries, even though the United States had every reason to put on a good show.
After three weeks of camp ahead of the final stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, the United States wasted an opportunity to enter next week's match in Honduras on a high note after coming up empty-handed in an ugly 0-0 draw with Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
"I'm disappointed because you just hope that after those three weeks of work they get their moment to shine and you wish it for them," U.S.coach Jurgen Klinsmann said.
Although the Americans dominated possession, controlling the ball for 66 percent of the match, they were unable to put any of their 14 shots past goalkeeper Simon Thomas. The Canadians produced just four shots while playing 11 men behind the ball most of the night.
The two nation's brought young, mainly MLS-based squads to their January camps. The U.S. entered Texas with seven players who had yet to earn a cap, while Canada featured its youngest roster since May 2006 with the average age under 25 years old.
Without the likes of stars Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Jozy Altidore, coach Jurgen Klinsmann started three players - MLSers Tony Beltran, Matt Besler and Justin Morrow - who had never featured for the national team. Alfredo Morales and Will Bruin also earned their first caps as second-half substitutes.
"It's always difficult in your first game after only training scrimmages, you know," Klinsmann said. "And then with Canada being so ready to sit back and being defensive minded, then we just hope that sooner or later we unlock them and it opens up."
Canada had its best opportunity of the game after five minutes when veteran Dwayne De Rosario shot a rocket into the hands of goalkeeper Sean Johnson, but that would be one of only two shots on target for the Canucks, who also failed to find the net in a 4-0 loss to Denmark on Saturday.
The Americans had plenty of chances to get things going offensively, but they lacked the finishing touch. In the second half, the Yanks failed to capitalize on two free kick from just outside the box, Omar Gonzalez put a point-blank header over the crossbar and Benny Feilhaber had a clear path to the goal but shot at a poor angle.
"Getting chances of putting the killer ball into the box, finishing teams off, we didn't do that tonight against a very, very defensive minded Canada," Klinsmann said. "But overall we were very pleased with the way the players presented themselves, with the way they put the effort in there."
The United States will begin the final stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in Honduras on Feb. 6. Canada will have to wait until this spring's Gold Cup for a meaningful contest after getting eliminated in the group stage.
Klinsmann said before the game that seven or eight of the players from the U.S. January camp will travel to Honduras on Feb. 6 to begin the Hexagonal stage. After Tuesday's performance, however, it will be interesting to see how many have earned a spot on the field.
Allen Ramsey contributed reporting from Houston
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