Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
WASHINGTON - On a day when U.S. Soccer was celebrating its centennial anniversary, the U.S. Men’s National Team showed just how far the program has come in those 100 years.
The U.S. put forth arguably their best attacking performance under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann on Sunday, fending off a late comeback attempt from Germany and beating them, 4-3, in wild centennial celebration match in front of a sell-out crowd of 47,359 at RFK Stadium.
Clint Dempsey scored twice and Jozy Altidore added a goal and assist to lead the way for the Americans, who were cruising for most of the match before late second-half goals from Max Kruse and Julian Draxler made things interesting.
“It got really tense then towards the end, didn’t need to kind of concede the last two goals, but overall a good performance,” said Klinsmann. “We saw a lot of things that we wanted to see.
“Having a player like Clint Dempsey on your team is just a privilege. I think if I look back I think he’s one of the best players, probably, in U.S. history. You see him perform almost every game on a very, very high level. Huge compliment to him and the entire team.”
The U.S. attack came out flying from the opening whistle and they scored twice in a span of four minutes to jump out to an early 2-0 lead. Jozy Altidore rifled in the opener with a sublime volley in the 13th minute and German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen comically let in an own goal three minutes later when his bad touch on a back-pass allowed for the ball to roll into the German net.
Germany pulled one back through a Heiko Westermann header in the 52nd minute, but Dempsey scored his first of the game with a thunderous half-volley at the hour-mark off a cross from Altidore. Dempsey then extended the Americans’ lead to 4-1 when he perfectly placed a curling left-footed shot past ter Stegen.
“With his game right now, he’s right on top with the best players around and certainly the top player in the United States,” said Klinsmann. “Having him partner with a forward is important because he sends signals on the field. He sends signals to his own players but he also sends the signals to the opponent and that’s what you need.
While it seemed like the U.S. was on the verge of a route, the Germans responded with two goals that made for some nervy late moments. Kruse beat U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard with a wonderful blast and Draxler tapped home a rebound in the 81st minute.
With the Germans pushing for the equalizer, the U.S. defense began to struggle. Centerbacks Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler were tested repeatedly after Germany inserted fresh legs and substitute left back Edgar Castillo also had some troubles defensively.
“We got a little worn out,” said Besler. “You’ve got to look at a number of different things for that reason: the (hot) weather, Germany, the way the game was being played (because) we were up. We’d like to finish on a better note for sure. It’s still by no means good enough but it’s a good foundation that we’ve started to build.”
The Americans, however, held on in the final few minutes to beat Germany for the first time since 1999 and third time in their nine meetings.
“It’s good to win against a good team like this and to win in a game that marks our 100 years of soccer in this country,” said Dempsey. “It’s showing the game is moving in the right direction and gives us confidence going into these World Cup qualifying games.”
The U.S. will now set their sights towards three upcoming qualifiers, with the first coming on the road against Jamaica on June 7.
What do you think of the USMNT’s 4-3 win over Germany? Who impressed you the most? Feeling confident after the performance?
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