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Jozy Altidore leads U.S. to opening Gold Cup win over Canada

Jozy Atlidore of the U.S controls the ball in front of Canada's Marcel Dejong during their CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer match in Detroit, Michig
Jozy Atlidore of the U.S controls the ball in front of Canada's Marcel Dejong during their CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer match in Detroit, Michig

By Simon Evans

DETROIT (Reuters) - Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey were on target for the United States on Tuesday as they made a confident start to their Gold Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory over Canada.

After suffering a 4-0 defeat at home to Spain in a friendly on Saturday, U.S. coach Bob Bradley reverted to his tried and tested formula and it delivered the kind of solid display his team have become noted for.

German-born Jermaine Jones and Bradley's son Michael were impressive in the center of midfield while in attack Altidore, who continues to under-achieve at club level, delivered a much-needed reminder of his qualities.

Canada still have a chance to progress from Group C, which also features Panama and Guadeloupe, but were disappointing until the final stages when they finally tested U.S. keeper Tim Howard and his defense.

"We were predictable and moved the ball too slowly at times," said Canada head coach Stephen Hart.

"Too many players didn't want the responsibility of the ball but if we play like we did in the second half we will get results."

A crowd of 28,000 at the Detroit Lions' NFL stadium Ford Field saw the United States make a strong, determined start.

Altidore opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a smart shot on the turn that crept under the body of Canadian keeper Lars Hirschfeld, who will be disappointed he did not keep the ball out.

With Jones and Bradley taking charge, the United States were comfortably on top without creating many real chances.

The Americans extended their advantage in the 62nd minute when Altidore turned provider, bursting down the right flank and delivering a firm, low cross to the back post where Dempsey slid the ball in.

Canada finally came alive with substitute striker Ali Gerba twice bringing great saves out of U.S. keeper Howard, who had little to do in the opening 70 minutes.

Gerba broke free down right and struck a fierce shot which was expertly tipped over by Howard. Then the Everton keeper made a double save in the 85th -- first bravely at the feet of Joshua Simpson and then rising to parry another Gerba shot.

"I didn't think we did a good enough job of closing the game out, it is essential that improves," said coach Bradley.

The return to form of Altidore, who had not scored in a competitive international since September 2009 and managed just one strike all season with his Turkish club Bursaspor, was the biggest positive for Bradley.

"For confidence it was a good game for Jozy ... when you go through a stretch with your club team, not playing many games and not scoring goals, in terms of confidence this was very important."

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)