🇨🇦 🇺🇸 Football's next big rivalry can bloom in the depths of winter | OneFootball

🇨🇦 🇺🇸 Football's next big rivalry can bloom in the depths of winter | OneFootball

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Emily Wilson·30 January 2022

🇨🇦 🇺🇸 Football's next big rivalry can bloom in the depths of winter

Article image:🇨🇦 🇺🇸 Football's next big rivalry can bloom in the depths of winter

It may not be Argentina against Brazil or England versus Germany but the United States against Canada may be evolving into something almost as big.

And starting with Sunday’s World Cup qualifier in harsh conditions, it is time to take notice.

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The rapid rise of football in North America has seen both teams develop into World Cup underdogs with the ability to pull off some big shocks come November. But both sides still need to qualify before any surprises can be sprung.

Canada and the US currently occupy two of the three automatic qualification spots in CONCACAF qualifying. This derby between the neighbouring countries has never had more riding on it.

With only five matches remaining, the pressure is on and some truly chilling weather this weekend will only add to the drama in an open-air stadium. The match could have been played in mild Vancouver but Canada Soccer decided on Hamilton, Ontario, where conditions could feel like minus 10 degrees Celcius with wind gusts up to 17 km per hour.

While some of the players involved may have grown up in these conditions, their careers have taken them from chilly North American winters to much milder European climes.

The team-sheets for this match look more like those we have come to expect from a Champions League clash. Barcelona, Chelsea, Juventus, Lille and Porto will all be represented.

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Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund would be too if it weren’t for the absences of Alphonso Davies (myocarditis) and Giovanni Reyna (injury). Manchester City’s Zack Steffen (injury) and former Paris Saint-Germain ace Tim Weah (COVID) miss out as well.

Never before has this fixture had so much talent on display.

Both sides are on course to reach this year’s World Cup and doing so would only fuel their fires before they play co-hosts with Mexico in 2026.

It has taken Canada 24 years to reach the final round of World Cup qualifying again but they seem to belong, currently sitting top of the table. The US are just one point behind.

Canada have carved out their own identity under John Herdman, indicating they can be competitors on the biggest stage. The team enjoyed a meteoric rise like no other nation in 2021, jumping 32 spots to match their highest-ever Fifa ranking (40) and earn the honour of being Fifa’s Most Improved Side.

The only unbeaten team in qualifying, Canada have enjoyed historic results against Mexico, as well as pulling off a statement draw away against the US when the sides met last September.

But everything could change at Tim Hortons Field.

History is with the Americans, who have lost just once in the last 20 meetings between the sides. That defeat was, notably, the most recent match played in the north. Maybe times are changing?

While the weather may be considered advantage for the Canucks, earning three points away from home in frigid weather to continue their dominance and snap their rival’s unbeaten run will be motivation enough for the Americans. They know a win could ignite the final push they need to return to the World Cup after missing out in 2018.

Failing to reach back-to-back tournaments is out of the question for the United States and, historically speaking, they know how to get the job done and qualify. They have done so 10 times. Canada just once, 36 years ago.

Article image:🇨🇦 🇺🇸 Football's next big rivalry can bloom in the depths of winter

Yet, the previous meeting between these two sides things wasn’t as lopsided as usual. The US took a 1-0 lead in Tennessee only to see the Canadians hit back seven minutes later and rescue a point.

Has the gap between the established older brothers from the south and the up-and-coming youngsters from the north been closed?

The key to Sunday’s mouth-watering clash will be the potential game-changers. The stage is set for another coming-of-age story as both sides continue their rise on football’s world stage.

Setting aside your headliners, Canadians Tajon Buchanan (Brugge), Alistair Johnston (CF Montréal) and Samuel Adekugbe (Hatayspor) plus Americans Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg) and Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg) will be vital.

They have all been extremely influential throughout qualifying and whoever steps up could sway the game.

So what does all this mean? Well, in short, some of football’s finest emerging talent is about to face off in a dramatic World Cup qualifier against their bitter rivals.

The two teams just happen to be from North America. A new era has begun.

Mexico are deemed to be the giants of CONCACAF but the United States and Canada are making it a three-way race. Regardless of Sunday’s result, this will be a groundbreaking match for both teams.

And fans will be treated to a preview of what is to come from this blooming rivalry in Hamilton.