U.S. collapses late again, allows Denmark to rally to 3-2 victory.
By Robert Wagman
(Wednesday, March 25, 2015) -- Continuing a disturbing trend of conceding costly late goals, the United States men gave up two late goals, the final one in stoppage time, turning a one-goal lead into a 3-2 loss to Denmark on a cold, windy, rainy day in front of 10,505 tonight at NRGi Park in Aarhus, Denmark.
Veteran striker Nicklas Bendtner logged his first international hat trick to spur the host to victory.
In the last seven matches, the U.S. has been victimized by seven goals after the 80th minute with eight of the 14 goals surrendered by the Americans since last summer’s World Cup coming after the 70th minute. Tonight, Bendtner leveled the game at 2-2 in the 83rd minute before netting the winner two minutes into extra time.
“I think overall this was a very even and entertaining game. I think we gave them an eye-to-eye game and we could have won it, but we didn’t,” U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann said. “We saw a lot of good things that we wanted to see on our end. Obviously, we’ve got to correct a couple things because we conceded three goals, and overall it’s just a little bit frustrating when you lose in the last minute.”
Even though leading entering the final 10 minutes, the U.S. accomplished that pretty much against the run of play. The only two shots the Americans managed on goal both went in. Meanwhile, U.S. goalkeeper Nick Rimando was very active to protect the advantage until the closing minutes.
The Americans opened the scoring in the 19th minute when striker Jozy Altidore scored one of his most impressive international goals, taking a long pass on the left side, holding off a pair of defenders to blast his left-footer shot home from a sharp angle.
Bendtner answered with his first goal of the night in the 33rd minute.
U.S. forward Aron Johannsson, starting his first match for quite awhile and playing in a stadium where he played his club ball a season ago, regained the lead in the 66th minute after being set up by Altidore.
“It was amazing. It was a great experience to come back to the stadium where my career kicked off,” Johannsson said. “It was good to be back, but on the other hand we lost the game, so I’m pretty disappointed right now. I felt like we could’ve gotten something from the game, so this is pretty disappointing.”
Bendtner then went to work, notching the equalizer and game winner.
Just before the final whistle, a free kick from U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley found the head of defender John Brooks, who steered the ball wide left from six yards while facing a gaping net.
This match was not exactly artistic on a wet, slick field. Neither side was able to control the ball well with four of the five goals coming after long passes preceding good finishes.
Obviously, the U.S. needs to take a close look at its play in the second half of matches, especially in the last half hour. In the past, coach Jürgen Klinsmann has pointed out the lack of fitness on the part of some players as one of the causes of late-match swoons. But another factor, maybe a primary factor, is the drop off in talent resulting from the second-half substitutions that Klinsmann makes in friendly matches. This was true tonight as midfield and defensive changes were a prime reason for the downfall.
“Obviously, what you don’t like is late goals,” Klinsmann said. “Maybe it’s just losing focus for a second, losing your mark or because of heavy legs getting tired a little bit. You never want to give a game away that you’re up 2-1.”
The U.S. returns to action Tuesday against Switzerland at Stadion Letzigrund in Zurich at 12 noon, broadcast by Fox Sports 1 and Spanish-language UniMás..
U.S. Player Ratings
Goalkeeper Nick Rimando - 6: Made a pair of very good saves and while he might have done better with at least one of Bendtner’s three goals, cannot be faulted for any of them.
Defender Timmy Chandler - 4.5: He kept giving ground on the first goal and was out of position too often. In his defense, he had to cover a lot of ground in the late going.
Defender Michael Orozco - 5.5: Things did not really fall apart until he exited the match. So, in this kind of negative way, he certainly looked better than those he left on the field.
Defender John Brooks - 4.5: He was at fault on both of Bendtner’s first two goals. He did make a few very good plays, but faded, especially when he was caught up in the defensive confusion of the final eight or so minutes.
Defender Greg Garza - 5: He was unusual in that he looked better in the second half when he had Brek Shea in front of him.
Midfielder Michael Bradley - 7: Once again, he was the best U.S. player on, but he also seemed to do better when he played deeper that when he played closely behind the front line.
Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya - 5: He was playing somewhat out of position and it showed. He is stronger when out on the wing then in the middle where he played tonight next to Bradley.
Midfielder Gyasi Zardes - 5: He is more of a natural striker than a wide midfielder. He seemed more interested in dropping back on defense than in using his pace to push forward. That is not his best use.
Midfielder Fabian Johnson - 5: Like Zardes, he was forced back to help on defense when his strength is using pace to push forward. He seemed ready to come off a halftime.
Forward Aron Johannsson - 6: In a new role, he paired well with Altidore. Scored a good goal holding off defenders to steer Altidore’s pass into the net.
Forward Jozy Altidore - 6.5: He scored a strong goal and assisted on the other. He clearly benefits from playing alongside another striker and tonight he had a good partner..
Midfielder Brek Shea (46th minute for Johnson) - 6: Was more active offensively than the player he replaced, but also was able to get back and help out in the defensive end. A good appearance.
Midfielder Alfredo Morales (46th minute for Bedoya ) - 5: He seemed to have problems settling in. Had a poor first 15 minutes or so before he steadied himself and did much better late.
Midfielder DeAndre Yedlin (67th minute for Zardes) - 5: He did not add much to the U.S. offense nor did he help defensively late.
Forward Rubio Rubin (67th minute for Johannsson) - 5: On the one hand, he was active on top over the final 20 minutes, but he was not very effective and added little to the U.S. effort.
Defender Ventura Alvarado (80th minute for Orozco) 4: In his debut, he was simply awful. Out of position, he added to the chaos that befell the American defense after he came on. Having said that, he needs more time if he is to live up to his promise. Tonight was not what he needed.
SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Michael Bradley.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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