Photo by ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he wanted to end the year by going into Russia and picking up a result.
It didn’t come easily, but thanks to the heroics of Tim Howard and Michael Bradley, and a last-minute equalizer from Mix Diskerud, Klinsmann got his wish.
The U.S. finished 2012 with a 2-2 draw against Russia in Krasnodar on Wednesday after Diskerud saved the Americans from defeat with a late strike for his first international goal. Russia went up twice in the game, but the United States responded both times to prevent ending the year with a loss.
Russia looked poised for a win after Roman Shirokov converted an 84th-minute penalty kick, but Bradley helped set up the winner with a perfectly-floated long pass into the penalty area that a Russian defender headed into the path of Diskerud. The Rosenborg midfielder pounced on the ball and struck a stoppage-time volley that took a fortuitous deflection before beating goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov for the equalizer.
Bradley delivered the first U.S. goal just minutes before the hosts’ second-half penalty when he blasted a perfect volley off the post following a headed Juan Agudelo pass to make the score 1-1. Russia, however, reclaimed the lead shortly after as Clarence Goodson was whistled for a foul in the penalty area.
That the Americans were even in the game late was a credit to some outstanding saves from Howard. The U.S. goalkeeper was forced into making a handful of fine stops throughout the match, as Russia overwhelmed the Americans in the first half and threatened repeatedly late in the second half.
There was little Howard could do about the opener, though. Danny Williams took a quick free kick in the Americans’ own half in the ninth minute, but he passed it to the opposition and that allowed Fyodor Smolov to beat Howard with a low shot. Smolov, who was making his international debut, was then subbed off due to an injury sustained on the play.
Things got worse for the U.S. minutes later, as captain Carlos Bocanegra picked up a knock that forced him to be replaced by Goodson. Still, that was the least of the Americans’ worries in the first half.
The United States could not hold onto the ball and Russia poured on the pressure despite leading 1-0. Geoff Cameron snuffed out several attacks, but he was one of few bright spots for Klinsmann in the first half of a game that marked the U.S. debut of Josh Gatt and returns of Jozy Altidore and Timmy Chandler.
The U.S. showed improvement in the second half, but Bradley’s goal did not come until after Klinsmann made some changes to his 4-3-3 formation. Klinsmann inserted Agudelo, Maurice Edu and Sacha Kljestan as substitutes, and they gave the U.S. more of an edge in the attack en route to helping the team score twice in the final 14 minutes of their last match of 2012.
What do you think of the USMNT’s 2-2 draw with Russia? Who impressed/disappointed you? What is your biggest concern heading into the Hexagonal?
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