Zardes double as US avenge Canada loss

Gyasi Zardes (pictured November 15, 2019) grabbed a second goal in the 89th minute to make the points safe after Canada pulled a goal back (AFP Photo/SAM GREENWOOD)

Miami (AFP) - The United States roared back into contention in the CONCACAF Nations League qualifiers on Friday, scoring a convincing 4-1 win over Canada to reignite their hopes of reaching the last four.

Goals from Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes and Aaron Long inside the opening 34 minutes effectively sealed victory for Gregg Berhalter's side, who had suffered a humiliating defeat to Canada last month.

Zardes grabbed a second in the 89th minute to make the points safe after Canada pulled a goal back through Steven Vitoria midway through the second half.

The result means the United States need only win their final Group game against minnows Cuba on Tuesday to advance.

With Canada requiring only a point to advance to the semi-finals, the US headed into Friday's game at Orlando's Exploria Stadium knowing they must win to keep hopes of qualification alive.

The Americans got off to a dream start after Morris fired them into the lead after only two minutes.

A corner routine saw the ball fall to Ajax fullback Sergino Dest, whose deft flick into the six-yard area was met by Morris who tucked away the finish past Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

Berhalter had demanded more intensity from his team after last month's lacklustre defeat in Toronto and the message seemed to have got across early on, the Americans pressing aggressively and never allowing Canada time to settle on the ball.

The second goal arrived on 23 minutes when the Americans punished a slack clearance from Canada keeper Borjan.

Paul Arriola pounced on Borjan's misplaced kick and swung a raking diagonal pass in behind the Canadian defence for Morris.

The Seattle Sounders forward chipped a cross into the area and Gyasi Zardes was on hand to nod home the finish.

It got better for the US on 34 minutes when Bayern Munich's Alphonso Davies conceded a needless foul on the edge of the Canadian penalty area.

Fulham defender Tim Ream's free-kick into the area was met by the unmarked New York Red Bulls centre-back Aaron Long, who steered his header past Borjan for 3-0.

The shellshocked Canadians rallied to get back into the game after half-time, and Davies looked more adventurous in attack.

Canada finally pulled a goal back when defender Steven Vitoria nodded home Jonathan Osorio's near-post flick on from a corner on 72 minutes.

But hopes of an improbable Canadian fightback were snuffed out two minutes from time when Zardes bagged his second of the night, drilling an emphatic finish past Borjan from just inside the area.