U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, left, and Russia Coach Fabio
Capello before Wednesday's
match in Krasnodar.ReutersU.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, left, and Russia
Capello before Wednesday’s match in Krasnodar.
The United States rescued a match in Russia, scoring the tying goal in
the third minute of second half stoppage time to escape with a 2-2 draw
against Russia at Kuban Stadium in Krasnodar on Wednesday.
Mix Diskerud, inserted into the game late by Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, struck
a shot from the top of the penalty area that deflected off a defender
and skipped past Russia goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov. It was Diskerud’s
first goal for the senior national team.
The draw — in the last scheduled match for the United States before the
start of the last phase of regional World Cup qualifying early in February
— caps a year in which the American team earned away victories, its first,
at Italy and at Mexico.
Josh Gatt, left, earned his first cap for the U.S. senior national team
against Russia on Wednesday.ReutersJosh Gatt, left, earned his first cap
for the U.S. senior national team against Russia on Wednesday.
Russia raced in front only nine minutes into the match after Jozy Altidore
was fouled in the United States’ half of the field. Danny Williams hastily
put the ball back in play, sliding a pass to the unsuspecting Carlos Bocanegra.
But Fyodor Smolov, who plays for Anzhi Makhachkala, pounced on the slow-rolling
pass, dribbled into the U.S. penalty area and beat goalkeeper Tim Howard
with a low shot. Smolov injured himself in the act of scoring the goal
and left the match. Only minutes later, Bocanegra, the American captain
who was making his 114th international appearance, sustained a leg injury
and was replaced by Clarence Goodson in the 18th minute.
The United States tied the match in the 76th minute. Juan Agudelo, a second-half
substitute, deftly headed down a long pass to Michael Bradley. Bradley,
who plays at Roma in Italy, hit the ball on the full volley. It kissed
off the near post and bounded into the net.
From there, the U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard preserved the deadlock with
back-to-back saves that stymied the quick and skillful Russians. Russia,
which will host the 2018 World Cup, is No. 12 in the FIFA world ranking
and is now coached by the Italian Fabio Capello, has jumped into the lead
in its World Cup qualifying group with four consecutive victories without
yielding a goal.
It looked like Russia took back the lead for good after Fabian Johnson’s
foul about 25 yards out led to a quick Russia free kick floated into the
penalty area. Clarence Goodson’s awkward tackle, and subsequent yellow
card, yielded a penalty kick for Russia that Roman Shirokov buried into
the roof of the net.
But the U.S. refused to concede the result with Diskerud scoring the equalizer
with time running out.
The match saw the return to the lineup of striker Altidore, who was dropped
by Klinsmann from the last two U.S. World Cup qualifiers. Klinsmann also
gave midfielder Josh Gatt, who plays for Molde in Norway, his first senior
international cap. Timmy Chandler, a German-American defender who had
not played for the U.S. in more than a year, was back but is still not
cap-tied to the U.S. That cannot happen until the World Cup qualifier
at Honduras on Feb. 6.
Before Wednesday’s match, the Russia had a 2-0-2 record against the United
States dating to 1993, when the series began with a 1-0 Russia win on
Feb. 13 in Orlando, Fla. The Soviet Union played the U.S. four times and
was 3-0-1, including a 3-1 win before 61,000 fans at Stanford Stadium
in Palo Alto, Calif. (There were also two games in 1992, one win for each
team, against the Commonwealth of Independent States after the dissolution
of the Soviet Union.)
While the match at Russia is the last one on the schedule this year, the
United States will play a friendly against Germany on May 29 as it prepares
for World Cup qualifying games in June and the Concacaf Gold Cup.