The United States Men's National Team was outplayed by Russia on Wednesday in Krasnodar, but the Americans battled back to draw their hosts 2-2. Twice the U.S. came from a goal down to even the score, and Mix Diskerud's first goal for the national team couldn't have come at a better time, as he gave his team a draw deep in second half injury time.
The game didn't start out particularly well for the U.S., as Fedor Smolov received a pass off an interception from a poor Danny Williams free kick to open the scoring in the ninth minute. Smolov left the game immediately afterward, as he suffered an injury, and the U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra did likewise a few minutes later. At that point, the game had a tone that perhaps the Russians would score early and often.
The score remained 1-0 through three quarters of the game, but Chivas USA forward Juan Agudelo helped set up the first equalizer in the 76th minute. Receiving a cross inside the box, Agudelo headed the ball back into the path of Michael Bradley, who buried the shot just inside the post. Agudelo entered the game in the 63rd minute, replacing debutante Josh Gatt, and he seemed to make a difference. Interestingly, to my eyes it appeared that Agudelo played a "tweener" role as a withdrawn striker, and that's certainly in line with the role he played much of the season with Chivas USA. I still think his natural position is as a forward, but he may have expanded his skillset this season with his club team.
Following the Bradley equalizer, Russia went ahead again in the 84th minute when Roman Shirokov converted a penalty that was conceded by a clumsy Clarence Goodson in the U.S. box. It appeared Russia would get the win, which again they deserved based on the quality of play, but Diskerud got a ball laid off from Terrence Boyd, and he also converted his chance, in a shot remarkably similar to Bradley's.
As ever, this was a friendly, so the result is literally irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Certainly, the game did give Jurgen Klinsmann a chance to see some new players and see that as it stands in 2012, Tim Howard will have to stand on his head in order for the U.S. to make a run in the World Cup in 2014 (assuming they qualify, of course), because the defense is not good. On the bright side, the team had the tenacity to stick with the game even when they were behind and not playing at their best.
Did the game help Agudelo? Sure, I think he'll stay in the mix. He's not currently in the first group of forwards in the national team pool, but he's firmly in the second tier and could definitely make the jump up if he puts in the work in the offseason and comes back ready to score early and often for Chivas USA next season.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!