Netherlands 3-4 USA: USMNT plays the role of comeback kids in Amsterdam

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With just 32 days remaining until the start of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the U.S. national team kicked off its final round of pre-Gold Cup roster announcement friendlies on Friday. The Yanks’ late rally from a two-goal deficit reversed the Americans’ trend of conceding late goals, instead scoring a pair of their own inside the game’s final five minutes to beat the Netherlands, 4-3 (full highlights below), in Amsterdam.

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Victory for the USA was their first-ever win over Holland as Gus Hiddink’s side were great going forward, hitting the woodwork twice late on, but were all over the place at the back and the U.S. took full advantage.

The lineup deployed by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was short a number of key contributors — Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Jozy Altidore, to name a few — and averaged 23.5 years of age among its 11 members, and yet somehow, it was five younger-for-older substitutions in the second half that tilted the game in the USMNT’s favor.

The game’s first real chance fell to the feet of Gyasi Zardes in the 15th minute. The LA Galaxy striker pounced on the botched clearance of two Dutch defenders outside their own six-yard box. Zardes made a quick turn eight yards out from goal and fired a quick snap-shot on goal, but Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen made a quick-reaction kick save.

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After struggling to do so very early on, Klinsmann’s side found its footing and the Yanks settled into a nice spell of possession and looked the more dangerous side for the ensuing 10 minutes. Michael Bradley, captaining the USMNT on his 97th international appearance, fired a low, left-footed shot off Cillessen’s left-hand post in the 19th minute, and Fabian Johnson’s follow-up shot went inches wide of the opposite post.

In the 26th minute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar lost U.S. defender John Brooks, got behind the American backline and raced in, one on one, with Guzan. Brooks made a desperate recovery run, though, reeling the Dutch marksman in and made the last-ditch block of Huntelaar’s shot.

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Less than a minute later, Huntelaar wouldn’t waste his next chance, a header from 11 yards out. Manchester United new boy Memphis Depay served up the in-swinging cross, which eluded Brooks and fellow center back Ventura Alvarado, and found the head of Huntelaar, who finished like the prolific goalscorer he is (40th international goal).

The USMT equalized just six minutes later, though, when Zardes used the entirety of his 6-foot-2 frame to get on the end of Johnson’s out-swinging cross to the back post. Zardes applied the outside-of-the-foot finish from an extremely tight angle, and the ball found the back of the net after a deflection off Cillessen for his first international goal.

[ RELATED: Klinsmann reacts to USMNT’s wild win in Amsterdam ]

The second half began with the Dutch pouring more pressure on the U.S. defense in the 47th minute, as Robin van Persie headed Daley Blind’s left-footed cross goalward, only to see Guzan palm the ball away from close range. The rebound then fell to Van Persie, whose quick backheel was cleared away from goal by Kyle Beckerman.

A minute later, Huntelaar doubled his tally and restored the Dutch lead when he headed home Gregory van der Wiel’s cross from the right, beating Michael Orozco at the near post and beating Guzan once again.

Four minutes later, Huntelaar nearly completed his hat trick, if not for a deflection off Depay six yards out from goal. Huntelaar’s first-time shot from outside the penalty area looked destined to challenge Guzan once again, but the goal-bound ball glanced off Depay, wrong-footing the American ‘keeper and finding the back of the net to make the score 3-1.

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Following four substitutions in quick succession, the Yanks pulled a goal back in the 70th minute, when Bradley played DeAndre Yedlin into the Dutch penalty area, where his simple, squared cross found the boot of a seriously overlapping Brooks for the easy finish at the back post.

Danny Williams pulled the USMNT level in the 89th minute with a fierce strike and deflection outside the penalty area, which beat Cillessen at the near post. A minute later, Bradley played Jordan Morris down the right side of the Dutch penalty area, where he crossed to the top of the six-yard box and Bobby Wood redirected the ball inside the far post for an unlikely 4-3 comeback victory.

The USMNT returns to action next Wednesday, June 10, when they’ll face the current World Cup holders, Germany, in a friendly in Cologne, Germany.

LINEUPS

Netherlands: Cillessen, Janmaat (van der Wiel 46′), Bruma, Martins Indi, Blind, Clasie (Sneijder 78′), Wijnaldum, Promes (Narsingh 46′), van Persie (Propper 56′), Depay, Huntelaar (de Jong 78′)

Goals: Huntelaar (27′, 49′), Depay (53′)

USMNT: Guzan, Shea (Yedlin 57′), Brooks, Alvarado (Orozco 46′), Chandler, Morales (Diskerud 56′), Beckerman (Williams 63′), Bradley, Zardes (Morris 81′), Johannsson (Wood 65′), Johnson

Goals: Zardes (33′), Brooks (70′), Williams (89′), Wood (90′)

Study: MLS improves racial hiring, slides in gender hiring

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A diversity report shows improved racial hiring practices for Major League Soccer but also highlighted a continuing decline in gender hiring efforts.

The annual report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at Central Florida on Wednesday gave MLS an A with 93.9 points for racial hiring in 2019 for its highest score in 15 years.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

But the gender score of 72 points for a C grade fell for the third straight time, down from 76.8 points in 2018 and 81 points as recently as 2016.

The overall grade for MLS was a B at 82.9 points, falling from a B-plus and 85 points in 2018.

TIDES director Richard Lapchick, the lead report author, called lower gender hiring numbers across men’s professional sports a “systemic problem.”

Online: http://tidesport.org/

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

Medel: Chile players decline friendly over civil unrest

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Chile had already canceled a home friendly with Bolivia this international break, and now the players will not play Tuesday in Peru either due to unrest in their country.’

A nationwide strike and protests against the government, spurred by a rise in metro fares, have Chile on edge.

[ MORE: USMNT-Canada preview ]

La Roja stars Gary Medel and Arturo Vidal both posted lengthy messages on their Instagram accounts, saying that the decision was made “in response to the social moment in our country.”

They urged both protestors and law enforcement to turn away from violence.

From Mega.CL:

“We are soccer players, but above all people and citizens. We know that we represent a complete country and today Chile has other priorities much more important than next Tuesday’s game.”

Chile is ranked No. 17 by FIFA and 22 in Elo Ratings.

Slumping USMNT big favorites v. Canada

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Let’s start with two statements which might be a bit controversial given the tone and tenor of the United States men’s national team program.

  1. The CONCACAF Nations League very much matters to Gregg Berhalter’s era and the program in general, even if the coach’s job is not in jeopardy and the tournament is in its infancy.
  2. The USMNT are the oddsmakers’ heavy favorites to win (nearly +500), even given the current injury problems, and it will be shocking but not surprising if they lose to the Canadians.

Point No. 1 might be a bit surprising, but this is a competition with silverware and Berhalter hasn’t won any of it yet in his tenure as USMNT boss. It’s also relevant because losing to Canada twice in a month after not losing to them since the Billboard No. 1 single was the sensual “One More Night” by Phil Collins.

And even without Christian Pulisic and a raft of injury excuses, plus taking into account Canada’s sincere re-emergence on the CONCACAF scene, the USMNT has no business losing a meaningful match at home to a team that, while improved, has far more holes than the hosts.

If you remember from October, Berhalter didn’t call upon his men to press an inexperienced Canadian back line (I just realized I’m still angry about this). There is literally no way he’ll do that at home.

If John Herdman keeps his backs the same as the one that shut out the Yanks at BMO last month, he’ll have Kamal Miller, Derek Cornelius, Steven Vitoria, and Richie Laryea out there. Three of the four aren’t full-time starters for their MLS clubs (Vitoria is an every week man in Portugal’s top flight). Goalkeeper Milan Borjan (Red Star Belgrade) is capable of stealing a result, but shouldn’t have the chance if the Yanks pressure the ball on Friday.

The midfield and attackers are where the U.S. will have its hands full. Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David beg speedy and/or smart defenders. John Brooks being in the mix should help in both counts, plus he’s the best passing back in the pool right now.

Whether the match is cagey or comfortable will come down to the midfield. Scott Arfield is going to make it difficult on the Yanks, but Alfredo Morales plays with a nasty streak and will not be as bullied as his peers were in Toronto.

The one thing to fear is how bamboozled Berhalter was by Herdman’s plan in Ontario. This isn’t to pile on the coach, who is known for his tactics but hasn’t seen them deliver against too many opponents of quality. Herdman may be the novice in terms of overall club experience, but he’s got a better handle on the international game.

If the Yanks look out-foxed and unprepared on Friday, that’s a big problem.

How will the USMNT line up versus Canada?

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No Christian Pulisic.

No Tyler Adams.

No Timothy Weah.

No Michael Bradley, Matt Miazga, and no Zack Steffen, either.

Ugh.

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Still, the United States men’s national team will be favored to get a home decision over Canada on Friday as the CONCACAF Nations League begins its final two match days of the group stage.

How will Gregg Berhalter line up his team without so many key components?

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan is probably going to get the start here, and he won’t kill the team, but we’d love to see Sean Johnson get a chance to improve on his 100% clean sheet success rate across two tournament caps for the U.S.

Back line: It would be insane if Sergino Dest didn’t start at one of the full back spots given his election of the USMNT over the Netherlands. Also insane would be not starting a finally-healthy John Brooks.

After that, it seems likely Berhalter will opt for Aaron Long to pair with Brooks. If his left back option is Dest, then it’ll be DeAndre Yedlin at right back (or Reggie Cannon). If Dest is on his preferred right side, than Daniel Lovitz may get a look over Tim Ream on account of the speed in Canada’s attack.

Midfield: Might Berhalter pull back an attacker and use a four-man midfield against the Canucks? Weston McKennie and Alfredo Morales will take two spots, and it seems pretty likely Jackson Yueill will get the chance to be a deep-lying playmaker with McKennie and Morales running their shorts off to make his life easier. We suppose Berhalter could opt for Wil Trapp over Yueill. It’s possible. A little too possible.

Attack: Josh Sargent is going to get the center forward spot, and it would be wild if Jordan Morris doesn’t join him. Then it’s down to Tyler Boyd or Paul Arriola, exciting versus a bit safer. And Arriola would give him more of a midfield presence than the forward-thinking Boyd.

Here’s how we think Berhalter starts in Orlando:

Guzan

Yedlin — Long — Brooks — Dest

Yueill

Morales — McKennie

Morris — Sargent — Arriola