Thursday, November 19, 2009

ATH: US 1 v Denmark 3

USA 1 - Denmark 3
from the US National Team Players Association

The United States got a first-half goal that stood into halftime, but couldn't hold up over the second 45, losing 3-1 to Denmark on Wednesday in Aarhus. Jeff Cunningham scored from the top of the arc in the 26th-minute for the opener.

For Denmark, the story of the game was making three changes to start the second-half, Johan Absalonsen got too much space in the US box and scored a 47th-minute equalizer - 70 seconds after coming into the game. It was Absalonsen again setting up another sub, Soren Rieks, in the 52nd-minute. Martin Bernburg became the third Denmark substitute to score, converting in the 55th-minute.

“I thought the first half tonight was solid," US coach Bob Bradley said. "We stayed organized and got an opportunistic goal. Denmark as expected picked up the pressure early in the second half. The six minute stretch really teaches us some lessons in terms of our reactions and our ability when a team really comes after us. That's something we can really look at closely and try to use down the road.”

On the hour mark, the US made three substitutes of their own, bringing on Ed Johnson, Robbie Rogers, and Edgar Castillo and taking off Stuart Holden, Michael Bradley, and Cunningham. In the 69th, Jimmy Conrad and Clarence Goodson came on for Jonathan Spector and Carlos Bocanegra. Bradley used his sixth sub and his final field player to bring on Dax McCarty for Jozy Altidore in the 80th-minute.

Unlike Denmark, the US substitutions didn't spark the offense.

“I think coming back is something we’ve shown we can do and obviously it takes guys being committed and willing to turn the game around," US midfielder Michael Bradley said. "Tonight clearly wasn’t a good night for us so I think in that sense we let ourselves down a little bit.”


Match: United States vs. Denmark
Date: Nov. 18, 2009
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: NRGi Park – Aarhus, Denmark
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. local time (2:30 p.m. ET)
Attendance: 15,172
Weather: Mostly Cloudy, 46 degrees

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
DEN 0 3 3

USA – Jeff Cunningham 26th minute
DEN – Johan Absalonsen (Simon Kjær) 47
DEN – Søren Rieks (Johan Absalonsen) 52
DEN – Martin Bernburg (Søren Rieks) 55

USA: 18-Brad Guzan; 22-Frankie Hejduk, 2-Jonathan Spector (15-Jimmy Conrad, 70), 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.) (25-Clarence Goodson, 70), 12-Jonathan Bornstein; 7-Stuart Holden (19-Robbie Rogers, 61), 13-Ricardo Clark, 4-Michael Bradley (33-Edgar Castillo, 61), 5-Benny Feilhaber; 17-Jozy Altidore (28-Dax McCarty, 80), 32-Jeff Cunningham (36-Eddie Johnson, 61)
Subs not used: 35-Marcus Hahnemann
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

DEN: 1-Thomas Sørensen; 6-Lars Jacobsen, 3-Simon Kjær, 4-Per Krøldrup, 5-Michael Lumb; 7-Daniel Jensen (18-Johan Absalonsen, 46), 2-Christian Poulsen (13-William Kvist Jørgensen, 46), 8-Jacob Poulsen; 10- Martin Jørgensen (capt.) (19-Jesper Bech, 80), 9-Morten Rasmussen (17-Martin Bernburg, 46, 20-Thomas Enevoldsen, 90), 11- Jesper Grønkjær (15-Søren Rieks, 46)
Subs not used: 12-Anders Møller Christensen, 14- Leon Jessen,16-Kim Christensen
Head Coach: Morten Olsen

Stats Summary: USA / DEN
Shots: 7 / 8
Shots on Goal: 3 / 5
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 3 / 4
Fouls: 9 / 14
Offside: 3 / 1

Misconduct Summary:

Referee: Craig Thomson (SCO)
Assistant Referee 1: Alan Cunningham (SCO)
Assistant Referee 2: Gordon Middleton (SCO)
Fourth Official: Michael Svendsen (DEN)

Judgement Call

By J Hutcherson -- So about that game in Denmark yesterday.... Look, I'm hardly the type to try to turn a disappointment into a suggestion of something better. The version of the United States on display against Denmark, and to a lesser extend Slovakia, ended up representative of the same old problems.

The good thing for US fans is that those problems are minimized when first-choice is on the field. Sure, it would be nice to think that there are multiple versions of the US Eleven that could compete, but that's not what World soccer is about.

Depth is a benefit, not the point. Remembering that isn't just limited to disappointed fans. The US needs to take advantage of any and every opportunity to play competitive games, but there were enough excuses for all involved to cast a shadow over this particular trip.
Even a standout performance would be tagged with the relative strength of the opposition along with the likelihood of a repeat playing alongside the first choice. That's no knock against a strong performance on the day - something desperately needed in the second-half of Wednesday's game - but a simple understanding of what's really at play.

A good showing in any US National Team game should carry with it future opportunities. US coach Bob Bradley has made that clear. At the same time, a bad night in Aarhus shouldn't be the extent of an opportunity for any player.

The problem with rating players game-by-game, a past-time of many who cover the sport and need an easy article, is that it treats every game with a weight it might not deserve.

Getting caught out of position when you're already playing out of your normal position alongside a group lacking experience playing together? That's a unique situation only likely to be repeated in a friendly setting. It has to count significantly less than what a player has shown in competitive games. That's not a blanket defense for poor performances. However, it is at least a start at getting meaning from games on the schedule.

I've never been one to dismiss friendlies out of hand. Prestige, mundane, or otherwise, there are only so many opportunities to play National Team soccer. Even in 2009, the year of the crowded US schedule, few players are going to pick and choose when he makes his performance count. The friendlies and the camps that go with them are what get players meaningful opportunities. No one in a National Team shirt forgets that.

Where we are post Slovakia and Denmark is trying to find players who can fill in at left back and center back along with a cutting attack. The defense was already being reworked prior to the Oguchi Onyewu injury. The number of strike partnerships was already larger than any coach would like. The real win would have been an answer to any of those positional issues. Given the setting, that was probably always going to be asking too much.

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