After the USMNT failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, they lost all benefit of the doubt from fans.

Gregg Berhalter put together some solid results this summer in relatively meaningless CONCACAF tournaments over Mexico (albeit with plenty of shaky moments.) But now that they’re playing the only games that have truly mattered since the infamous 2017 defeat to Trinidad & Tobago, things have not gotten off to a good start.

After a dispiriting draw at El Salvador this week, the Americans took the field against a Canadian team growing in talent and confidence.

0-0 at halftime (making the third straight scoreless half for Gregg Berhalter’s team), the Americans put together a lovely sequence that was finished off by Brendan Aaronson for the team’s squad’s first goal of World Cup Qualifying.

It didn’t take long for Canada to respond, though, and unsurprisingly it came through their best player (and possibly the best player in CONCACAF) Alphonso Davis. The Bayern wingback cooked DeAndre Yedlin down the left side before slotting home a perfect low cross for Cyle Larin, who didn’t miss the gifted tap-in equalizer.

The Americans didn’t really threaten after that, with Canada pushing for a winner despite Davis leaving with an injury. In the end, the 1-1 draw was an earned result for both teams.

The difference, though, is that for Canada, a road draw in the United States is a much better result than a home draw for the Americans, and that’s not a disrespectful thing to point out. Travel is difficult, especially in the world of Covid; just ask Argentina.

For the USMNT, though, two early draws against teams that aren’t Mexico is very much not what they would have wanted to see. Berhalter entered qualifying on a high from those two Mexico defeats this summer, but that may have been masking issues. Granted players like Weston McKennie were out today, and Pulisic was out against El Salvador. But this is one of the most talented and deepest rosters of young talent the United States has ever produced on the men’s side.

Results can be misleading sometimes, but if anything, two draws have flattered Berhalter’s team. If they can’t put together a better performance against Honduras, that’ll be three WCQ games down and dates with Mexico and Costa Rica still to come. All the talk of program building and system installation doesn’t mean a whole lot if World Cup qualification is once again in jeopardy.

Hopefully the USMNT figures things out and gets it turned around, but that’s very much not a given. We just have to go back one cycle to see evidence of that.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.