Billy’s USA Soccer Beat
On Wednesday the USMNT took on the Danish national team in their first match of the international break. While there were a number of positives from this game, the Yanks ultimately fell 3-2 to the Danes, with Nicklas Bendter notching a hat trick for Denmark.
Here are some takeaways from the contest:
Man of the Match: Jozy Altidore
Jozy has been simply sensational since his return from MLS. Maybe it’s injury recovery. Maybe it’s money. Maybe it’s just confidence.
As a national team fan, who cares? Jozy Altidore is back to scoring again.
He slotted the first goal of the game, catching a beautiful pass from Michael Bradley and rocketing it past the Danish keeper, and assisted on the United States’ second goal, leaving a beautiful ball in the box for Aron Johansson. It was certainly encouraging to see Johansson and Altidore playing so well together, and national team fans have to be hopeful that Jozy will continue this form in the future. He has already scored a couple goals in the early goings in MLS, and any national team fan will tell you that Jozy’s goals come in streaks, so to see him scoring regularly is extremely encouraging. His play with Tornto FC will be crucial, but right now Jozy looks poised for another 30 goal season like the one he had with AZ Alkmaar just a few seasons ago.
A major storyline leading up to this match surrounded Danish wage garnering for their national team in upcoming matches. After a disappointing qualifying campaign that saw the Danes fall short of a trip to Brazil last summer, the Danish FA has decided to reduce the wage of national team players.
Should the team qualify for the Euros in 2016, the old wages will be reinstated, but for the time being, the Danish players are taking a pay cut. It became clear as the game went on that the Danes were playing for a bit more than just a friendly against the United States. Christian Eriksen and Nicklas Bendter clearly wanted to come away from their home friendly victorious to send a message to their governing body that the Danish national team remains amongst the best in Europe.
That attitude clearly spurred on the Danes in the dying minutes of the game, leading to the late goal and sealing the victory.
The New Guys
Several new players got on the field for the United States today, giving fans their first look at national team prospects we have only heard about. In addition, some of the young guys Klinsmann brought into January camp found their way onto the field as well.
Ventura Alvarado, the wing back from Club America who is eligible to play for both the USA and Mexico made his international debut, but failed to make an impression in limited minutes. Rubio Rubin, the FC Utrecht forward, came on for Johansson in the 67th minute and demonstrated a speed and technical ability on the ball that is a departure from the physicality of Altidore.
Gyasi Zardes was extremely impressive, dominating play as a winger and earning a starting role on the team. Alfredo Morales, the Ingosladt midfielder from the German 2nd division, came on for Alejandro Bedoya at half time and provided some slick passes, helping to maintain possession.
Ultimately, the match against Denmark was very successful from an attacking perspective, but Klinsmann must figure out how to stop giving up late leads. This has become a consistent problem in Jurgen’s five years at the helm, and if he doesn’t correct it, the United States can never become an elite national team.