BRIAN SCIARETTA - Sunday, October 10, 2010
The US and Poland finished all-square after a hard-fought and physical game that saw the hosts fail to capitalize on their many chances and give up two goals on botched clearances.
The United States began the game with a starting lineup that had two notable changes. The first was the long awaited debut of Schalke star central midfielder Jermaine Jones who was making his debut for the Americans after deciding to represent the Stars and Stripes.
The second change in the lineup was Maurice Edu getting the nod in central defense where he has never played at the club level but has occasionally been experimented there with the national team.
The US also played the game without their best player in Landon Donovan as no MLS players were on the roster for today's game as the league reaches the end of its season.
The hosts drew first blood in the 13th minute when Jones got his debut off in impressive fashion when he sent in a terrific high looping pass that hit Jozy Altidore in stride past the defense. Altidore calmly moved in all alone against Polish keeper Artur Boruc and fired the ball into the lower right side of the net to give the Americans a 1-0 lead.
Following the goal, Poland would come to life and begin to maintain possession. In the 21st minute, Poland would have their best chance up to that point when Robert Lewandowski took advantage of Edu's lack of experience at central defense and moved past him setting up a one-on-one with US keeper Tim Howard.
Fortunately for the US, Howard made his best save of the night turning away Lewandowski's low driving attempt.
Poland equalized in the 30th minute when Adam Matuszczyk would capitalize off of two bad individual plays by US players.
The play began when Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden shanked clearance high and directly into the middle of the American box. Puzzlingly, Howard did not come out for the high ball and instead left it for Oguchi Onyewu whose attemped header hit him in the neck and went only a few feet forward. The ball eventually fell to Matuszczyk who took two touches and fired it past Howard.
The remainder of the first half saw the Americans have the better of the chances. In the 36th minute Holden fired a free kick from just outside the box that narrowly missed the target.
In the 43rd minute, Altidore narrowly got his second goal of the game when he collected the ball on the right side of the box and fired a hard driving shot that rattled off the crossbar.
The second half saw US coach Bob Bradley make no changes but he did make some adjustments that saw the US look more organized in the back limiting Poland's chances.
The US moved back on top when Onyewu would make his tall and physical presence felt when he moved into the attack to head in a Holden corner for the 2-1 lead.
Bradley's men continued to get most of the opportunities in the second half but Poland equalized once again in the 73rd minute when Jakub Blaszczykowski capitalized off yet another US breakdown.
Jones flubbed a clearance off a Polish defender just outside the US box, resulting in a through ball to Blaszczykowski who was all alone on the right side. The Borussia Dortmund midfielder fired a laser just inside the left post past Howard to level the score at 2-2.
The US maintained pressure through the conclusion of the game. In the 79th minute, Altidore would again find himself alone against Boruc but this time fired the ball against Fiorentina keeper's left leg.
Despite the early goal for Altidore, it was a disappointing effort for the 20-year old New Jersey native who had at least four quality attempts to score throughout the match.
The US thought they had found the winning goal in injury time when the ball found its way into the Polish box and it set off a mad scramble. During the melee, Onyewu surged forward with another header that was cleared off the line by the Polish defense.
Many of the US players and American fans in attendances thought the ball had crossed the line but Canadian referee Steven DePiero did not agree despite the ensuing protest from American players.
Soon after, DePiero blew the whistle, ending the game even at 2-2.
Bradley only elected to make one change during the entire game when he brought in Alejandro Bedoya for Benny Feilhaber.
The US will next be in action on Tuesday night when they host Colombia in the team's first-ever game at Philadelphia's new PPL Park, home to MLS' Philadelphia Union.