U.S. Beats Iceland 3-2, Earn First Win of 2016

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DENY GALLAGHER

It wasn’t always pretty, but the United States secured their first victory of 2016 by beating Iceland 3-2 Sunday afternoon in California.

Jozy Altidore, Michael Orozco, and Steve Birnbaum all found the back of the net for the Americans in a match that provided an opportunity for Tony Tchani, Jerome Kiesewetter, Kellyn Acosta, and Ethan Finley to make their debuts for the Stars and Stripes.

After a promising start for the United States in the first ten minutes, a disastrous clearance by Matt Besler gave Iceland a great opportunity on the edge of the area. With a handful of blue shirts ball watching, former Columbus Crew player Kristinn Steindorsson’s shot deflected off Michael Orozco, beating New York Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles to gift the visitors a 1-0 lead after 13 minutes of play.

The USMNT nearly answered moments later with a promising ball in from Lee Nyguen to Gyasi Zardes on the far post. However, the Zardes header sailed just over the cross bar.

The United States continued to have the better of the game as the side looked threatening in attack, while keeping possession. Just before the 20th minute, the Americans found the right combination with Jermaine Jones springing the offense and some one-touch passing from Michael Bradley putting Jozy Alitdore in on goal. The Toronto FC man finished the opportunity to secure his first goal of 2016 — and more importantly tie the match at 1-1.

From that point on, the hosts looked more likely to find the go-ahead goal, as the U.S. spent most of the opening stanza in the final third. Despite creating chances, the two sides went into the half tied up at 1-1.

Just when things were looking promising for the United States, Iceland found the go-ahead goal off a quick free kick in the 48th minute. It began with a controversial foul call that several U.S. players, including Michael Bradley, tried to dispute with the official. While the Americans were protesting, Iceland took advantage of a quick free kick that made its way to the feet of Aron Sigurdarson. The player made his way into the edge of the 18-yard box, created space, and curled a beautiful ball around the outstretched arms of Luis Robles to give Iceland a 2-1 lead.

Despite being down, the Americans still looked threatening. Right before the hour mark, the United States were trying to take advantage of their second consecutive corner. Altidore was able to settle the rebound and play the ball back toward the far post. The cross met the head of Steve Birnbaum, who found an on-running Michael Orozco on the end line to tap in the easy header for the equalizer.

Jerome Kiesewetter and Jordan Morris entered the game and provided an immediate spark in the final 15 minutes of the match. By the 89th minute, Kiesewetter used his pace and was brought down on the right flank to create a free kick with little time remaining. Michael Bradley stepped up and played the ball to the penalty spot where he found Steve Birnbaum. The defender’s great afternoon on the offensive end continued, as he rose above the Icelandic defense and headed home the game-winner.

The squad will be back in action on Friday night when they host Canada at the Stubhub Center. Kickoff is set for 10:15 PM.

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Iceland
Date: Jan. 31, 2016
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: StubHub Center
Kickoff: 12:45 p.m. PT
Attendance: 8,803
Weather: 61 degrees; mostly cloudy, intermittent rain

Scoring Summary: 1   2   F
USA                        1   2   3
ISL                           1   1   2

ISL – Kristinn Steindorsson                         13th minute
USA – Jozy Altidore (Michael Bradley)          20
ISL – Aron Sigurdarson                                48
USA – Michael Orozco (Steve Birnbaum)      59
USA – Steve Birnbaum (Michael Bradley)      90

Lineups:
USA: 12-Luis Robles; 3-Brad Evans (15-Steve Birnbaum, 46), 19-Michael Orozco, 5-Matt Besler, 14-Kellyn Acosta; 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 13-Jermaine Jones (25-Tony Tchani, 71), 7-Ethan Finlay (6-Darlington Nagbe, 61), 16-Lee Nguyen; 9-Gyasi Zardes (18-Jerome Kiesewetter, 75), 17-Jozy Altidore (8-Jordan Morris, 75)
Subs Not Used: 22-David Bingham, 2-Eric Miller, 10-Mix Diskerud, 20-Wil Trapp, 23-Perry Kitchen
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

ISL: 1-Ogmundur Kristinsson; 2-Birkir Mar Saevarsson, 3-Hallgrimur Jonasson (4-Hjortur Hermannsson, 46), 5-Jon Gudni Fjoluson, 23-Ari Freyr Skulason (18-Aevar Ingi Johannesson, 84); 7-Aron Sigurdarson, 6-Gudmundur Thorarinsson (14-Diego Johannesson, 46), 8-Runar Mar Sigurjonsson, 17-Kristinn Steindorsson (15-Aron Elis Thrandarson, 46); 10-Arnor Smarason, 22-Eidur Smari Gudjohnsen (capt.) (11-Kjartan Henry Finnbogason, 71)
Subs Not Used: 12-Gunnleifur Gunnleifsson, 9-Gardar Gunnlaugsson
Head coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson and Lars Lagerback

Stats Summary: USA / ISL
Shots: 16 / 6
Shots on Goal: 5 / 3
Saves: 1 / 1
Corner Kicks: 8 / 2
Fouls: 7 / 8
Offside: 3 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
ISL – Jon Gudni Fjoluson (caution)      45th minute
USA – Darlington Nagbe (caution)       72

 


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