The U.S. MNT continued a recent trend and once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, losing 3-2 to Denmark after leading 2-1.
The Americans started well over the first 10 minutes before the home side began to assert themselves. Jurgen Klinsmann continues to experiment with new players and combinations, and at times tonight in Aarhus, Denmark his players displayed a lack of understanding with one another. That lack of understanding played a part in all three Nicklas Bendtner goals for Denmark, and the former Arsenal man looked as good as he has always said he is tonight against the U.S.A.
Klinsmann sent his team out in a 4-4-2, and once Denmark settled into the match, the Americans had trouble gaining or maintaining possession.
With possession at a premium Jozy Altidore gave the U.S. a 19th minute lead with a fine individual effort. The powerful Toronto FC striker outmuscled the Danish defense to win a speculative ball from Timmy Chandler, before firing past Stephan Andersen with the help of a slight deflection.
After Bendtner’s 33rd minute goal the U.S. were fortunate to be level at the the break, and we waited to see what changes the inscrutable Mr. Klinsmann would have in store.
Would fullbacks Greg Garza and Chandler be pulled after being highly ineffective in the opening 45 minutes? And what about the young L.A. Galaxy attacker Gyasi Zardes. Playing as a wide midfielder, Zardes was all hustle and bustle, with little to show for it.
All three stayed in the game, maybe the coach wanted to see more from them. Brek Shea and Alfredo Morales came on after the intermission, with a oddly subdued Fabian Johnson, and Alejandro Bedoya making way.
Klinsmann has talked up Shea’s future as an international fullback, and has played the Orlando SC man there as well, so it was surprising that Shea assumed Johnson’s left midfield role with Garza remaining at fullback.
As in the first half, Denmark controlled the tempo, the home team won the possession battle 60% to 40% on the night. Tonight’s U.S. captain Michael Bradley was working very hard all over the field, and it finally paid off in the 66th minute. Bradley lofted a perfect pass over the Denmark defense right to TFC teammate Jozy Altidore, who passed up a scoring chance to place Aaron Johannsson with a fine pass that AJ finished with aplomb.
Despite being outplayed the Americans were now leading 2-1, would they be able to hold the lead? We know now that the answer is no. Friendlies are often a mess once the mass substitutions begin, but at some point the U.S. has to learn to close out a match.
There is always the danger of reacting too strongly either way to friendly games, after all these games do not count. And of course any coach is entitled to experiment, although with the Gold Cup coming this summer the U.S. team should be starting to take shape.
As for tonight, it is difficult to find a player that enhanced his reputation, beyond Bradley and perhaps Altidore. John Brooks was the best defender on the night, but like the rest he has to share some of the blame for the confusion that reigned on all three Bendtner tallies.
Shea had a decent 45 minutes, contributing at least one dangerous cross, but that’s about it. On the other end of the ledger, Garza and Chandler had evenings to forget, although Garza had some good attacking moments in the second half.
Zardes is promising, but showed tonight that he needs time to reach the international level. Now it’s on to Zurich to face Switzerland next Tuesday.
Since the U.S. returned from the World Cup with reputations burnished by surviving the “Group of Death,” the team has compiled a 2 win – 4 loss – and 2 draw record.
These are only friendlies, yes, but the performances have been troubling, and friendly or no, at some point it might be nice to win a couple of them.
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
DEN 1 2 3
USA – Jozy Altidore (Timmy Chandler) 19th minute
DEN – Nicklas Bendtner (Lasse Vibe) 33
USA – Aron Johannsson (Jozy Altidore) 66
DEN – Nicklas Bendtner 83
DEN – Nicklas Bendtner (Christian Eriksen) 90+1
USA: 1-Nick Rimando; 21-Timmy Chandler, 15-Michael Orozco (19-Ventura Alvarado, 80), 6-John Brooks, 3-Greg Garza; 20-Gyasi Zardes (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 67) 11-Alejandro Bedoya (7-Alfredo Morales, 46), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 23-Fabian Johnson (13-Brek Shea, 46); 17-Jozy Altidore, 9-Aron Johannsson (18-Rubio Rubin, 67)
Subs not used: 5-Tim Ream, 10-Miguel Ibarra, 14-Danny Williams, 16-Julian Green, 22-Williams Yarbrough
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
DEN: 16-Stephan Andersen; 2-Daniel Wass, 3-Simon Kjar, 4-Erik Sviatchenko, 5-Nicolai Bollesen (17-Simon Busk Poulsen, 53); 7-William Kvist (23-Anders Christiansen, 46), 18-Jakob Poulsen (19-Thomas Delaney, 46), 21-Lasse Vibe, 10-Christian Eriksen (capt.);
9-Michael Krohn-Dehli (14-Lasse Schöne, 78), 11-Nicklas Bendtner
Subs not used: 1-Kasper Schmeichel, 6-Las Jacobsen, 8-Martin C. Braithwaite, 12-Mathias Zanka Jorgensen, 13-Kian H. Hansen, 22-Jonas Lössl
Head Coach: Morten Olsen
Stats Summary: USA / DEN
Shots: 4 / 12
Shots on Goal: 2 / 5
Saves: 2 / 0
Corner Kicks: 3 / 4
Fouls: 17 / 13
Offside: 1 / 0
DEN – William Kvist (caution) 25th minute
USA – Jozy Altidore (caution) 78
USA – Ventura Alvarado (caution) 89