CHRISTOPHER MCCOLLUM - Wednesday, November 14, 2012
On an unseasonably warm November evening in Krasnodar, Russia, the United States had to battle back twice to earn a draw in the waning moments of the game.

A goal by Mikkel Diskerud on the final kick of the game gave Jurgen Klinsmann's team a 2-2 draw against Fabio Capello's World Cup hopefuls. The result was not only favorable because it means a point on European soil, but because Klinsmann elected to give several new players their first US caps, including Josh Gatt, who got the start.

Unfortunately, once again, the US was plagued by a sloppy start, which allowed the Russians to take the early lead, as the US struggled to handle Russia's speed and unrelenting attack.

In the ninth minute, after a Russian foul in the defensive third, Danny Williams stepped for the quick restart, but flubbed the pass straight to Alexander Kerzhakov, about 30 yards from goal. Kerzhakov ran straight up the center of the field and at Bocanegra, while Fedor Smolov followed alongside on the right.

Kerzhakov touched the ball into Smolov's path and celebrated as the Feyenoord striker slotted the ball past Tim Howard. After the play, Williams gestured towards Jozy Altidore as though to indicate that the ball took a deflection off of his teammate, but replays were inconclusive. Interestingly, Smolov injured himself while shooting and was replaced immediately.

Just six minutes later, Carlos Bocanegra also came up lame with a hamstring injury and was subbed out.

Although Russia controlled the pace of the game through most of the first half, the US began to battle for possession and threaten the Russian goal. Midway through the half, Gatt used his speed and some nifty moves to make his way toward the six-yard box, where he took a hard challenge by Andrey Eshchenko, but his appeal for a penalty was ignored.

Although Klinsmann sent out the same lineup to start the second half, soon the subs started to come, with Juan Agudelo coming off the bench for Gatt in the 63rd, followed by Sacha Kljestan, entering for Herculez Gomez, two minutes later.

As the second half wore on, services were attempted into the box, only to be cleared away by the Russian defense. Finally, in the 76th minute, a chip from Maurice Edu (who subbed in for Williams in the 73rd) found Agudelo at the top of the box, and he headed back to an onrushing Michael Bradley, who blasted a one-timer from 22 yards out and off the left post to bring the US even, 1-1.

However, in the 83rd minute, a poor defensive play by Clarence Goodson resulted in a penalty kick for Russia, which was converted by Roman Shirokov.

It began to look like another loss on European soil for the Americans. Nevertheless, the insertions of Terrence Boyd and Diskerud in the following minutes set up the dramatic finish in stoppage time, as Diskerud, in his first appearance for the US in two years, latched onto the end of a Boyd layoff from about 20 yards out and hammered a volley that took a deflection and bounced over 'keeper Vladimir Gabulov setting off an American celebration in Russia.
Tom P
Friday November 16, 2012 10:33 am
I like what Klinsmann is doing. He is trying to reach a new level for U.S. Soccer. The question is what happens if he can't do this and QUALIFY at the same time? This is the part I do not think he gets because he has a dreamers mentality and not a grinders. He truly is the anti German - German.

I think we may end up playing New Zealand or 5th in the table unless he picks a reliable old style defensive minded club and let Dempsey, if his level picks up, and what ever strikers are in form play in front of him. Leaving Altidore up top alone IS NOT ANSWER THAT SHOULD EVEN BE POSED at this time. None of the lot of them can play up top alone for that matter.
Friday November 16, 2012 1:26 am
I'll take this result any day. Nice work.

I wouldn't be too hard on Goodson. The entire backline has been musical chairs and although I love Tim Howard I get the sense that he's not always the easiest GK to play in front of. The good news: rarely is our backline being beat physically or on skill. It's almost all communication and coverage issues. That stuff fixes itself when we get four guys consistently playing together (and with Howard) for longer than one camp. Time to make that happen.

Bradley's goal was sublime. Great to see we have a solid playmaker MF confident enough to take a crack like that when he sees space. We keep building game tape like this and defenses will look to press him more and hopefully open up those Dempsey runs at the top of the box. One thing I think we did really well was to stretch the attack. Wing runs, over the top balls, short passes, snipes from midfield- I don't think we left any ordinance on the airplane. Kept the Russians guessing and opened up opps.

Glad to see Chandler back, someone I had pretty much written off. Play your heart out and you'll be forgiven buddy. May also help to sit between Dempsey and Gomez on the team bus and let a little bit of their USMNT passion rub off. That, and maybe a "property of the US soccer” tattoo.
Thursday November 15, 2012 12:36 pm
Forgot to mention Josh Gatt. This guy looks like he could be a replacement for Donovan on the wing or in a more forward position. Great speed, good instinct looks like phenominal potential here. He definitely needs more starts with the A team.
Wednesday November 14, 2012 6:00 pm
Great comeback on individual plays, to tie the game twice dramatically. Obviously we can't continue to have horrific mental and/or physically lapses that led to both goals. The defense should not be tinkered with any longer. Stick with Boca, Dolo and combo's of Chandler, Johnson, Cameron, Edu or Lichaj. Time to give Goodson a rest. The first half and a good portion of the second our Midfield got outplayed. Russia is a top ten team and to outplay a team of their caliber, you must in some part control the midfield and create. Bradley is a strange player making great plays but also way too heavy on offensive touches and the missed header wasnt even a decent attempt on goal. As for our forwards lets stop with the excessive playing time to Gomez and see more of Agudelo, Boyd and Altidore opposite Dempsey. For WC in Brazil we may still need Donovan on the wing and way more midfield starts by Zuzi, Shea and Adu.
Wednesday November 14, 2012 5:55 pm
Say what you will about the defense (It was bad), it was a fun game. I've been talking Mix (as an "up-and-comer") and Mikey Bradley (as a "he's already here, seriously) for a while now. Glad to be right.

A November game in Russia without Clintu? I'll take 2-2 all day.

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