Canada drops Gold Cup opener

Canada remained unable to solve its cross-border soccer rival, dropping a 2-0 decision to the United States in its opener of the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Tuesday.

United States defender Steve Cherundolo (6)

United States defender Steve Cherundolo (6)

DETROIT — Canada remained unable to solve its cross-border soccer rival, dropping a 2-0 decision to the United States in its opener of the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Tuesday.

Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey scored to lead the No. 22-ranked Americans over 76th-ranked Canada in the first meeting between the two teams in four years.

Altidore scored in the 16th minute from 10 yards out, dribbling in with his back to Kevin McKenna before turning and launching a shot from the right side of the box past outside the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld into the left corner of the net.

Dempsey doubled the Americans’ lead in the 62nd minute, stretching to stab in a cross from Altidore from the right corner that a diving Juan Agudelo just missed.

Canada hasn’t beaten the U.S. since 1985, a stretch that goes back 14 matches and includes seven shutouts in the last eight meetings.

The Canadians haven’t beaten the U.S. in an official competition since 1980.

The Americans, with nine World Cup appearances to their name to Canada’s one, were clearly the class of the match, dominating the first half and then doing just enough in the second to secure the victory.

They passed at will for long stretches, and Altidore and Agudelo kept Canada’s back line of McKenna, Nik Ledgerwood and Andre Hainault under unrelenting pressure for much of the night.

Dwayne De Rosario had Canada’s first threat to score and appeared poised to tie the game in the 33rd minute, but his shot from 25 yards out curled just right of the net.

Canada’s best chance came in the 70th minute when Ali Gerba, subbed into the game just five minutes earlier for Will Johnson, launched a rocket from just inside the 18-yard box headed for the top right corner that American goalkeeper Tim Howard had to dive to punch out of danger.

Some 20,209 fans — including a small but rowdy section of a couple hundred Canadians —took in the game cavernous 65,000-seat Ford Field, normally home to the NFL’s Detroit Lions.

Natural grass had been trucked in and laid over the artificial turf, but by the time Canada took the field, the pitch was a mosaic of various hues of green, yellow and brown. From the upper seats, the field resembled the view from an airplane over a patchwork of prairie farms.

The Canadians are searching for their first Gold Cup title since winning in 2000. They were ousted by Honduras in the quarter-finals in 2009.

Officials, with buckets of sand in hand, patched up the numerous divots on the field at halftime.

They were also looking for a bit of redemption against their cross-border foes in their first meeting since the Canadians were dispatched by the U.S. from the 2007 Gold Cup in a controversial semifinal ending. Atiba Hutchinson scored what would have been the tying goal in second-half injury time but the referee ruled it offside, giving the U.S. a 2-1 victory over the gutted Canadians. The U.S. went on to win the tournament.

Canada faces Guadeloupe — unranked because its not a member of FIFA — on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, and then wraps up group action next Tuesday against No. 67 Panama at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Mo.

Panama defeated Guadeloupe 3-2 in the early Group C game Tuesday.