International friendlies mean little. Those occurring mid-season mean even less. Away wins over Italy and Mexico did not portend success for the U.S. during a nervy round of qualifying. It is important not to get too jazzed up with a 2-2 away draw against Russia. The U.S. entered the match with questions and leaves…with the same questions.
Klinsmann treated this as a friendly, using the trip to work in some young players. Klinsmann brought back Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudeo and Timmy Chandler. He also called up Norwegian-based youngsters Joshua Gatt and Mikkel Diskerud. The late Diskerud goal saved result, but it was a rather dismal performance.
Russia dominated, forcing Tim Howard to make multiple saves on shots from inside the penalty area. The U.S. created four chances – none were that great – but managed to score two of them. American back four defending was sloppy. The U.S. also struggled advancing the ball against pressure, resulting in needless giveaways. The most notable example was Danny Williams’ quick free kick that set up Russia’s first goal.
Crucial for Klinsmann will be addressing the midfield situation. Bereft up front and at the back, the U.S. needs that midfield to cover the back four and build play forward. The unit starting today was full strength and failed at both tasks.
Both goals came from U.S. strikers working hard to knock down long balls for the scorer to run on to. Neither involved Jozy Altidore.
[Photo via Getty, Videos via US Soccer]
Russia’s first goal from Smolov.
Michael Bradley’s goal.
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