U.S. MNT Closes out 2012 with 2-2 Draw Against Ninth-Ranked Russia
The U.S. Men’s National Team came from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw against No. 9-ranked Russia in Wednesday’s international friendly match at Kuban Stadium.
Second-half substitute Mix Diskerud, playing in his third match with the U.S. senior team, scored the game-tying goal nearly three minutes into second-half stoppage time. Midfielder Michael Bradley also contributed a 76th-minute equalizer to tie the score at 1-1 and goalkeeper Tim Howard made six saves, several of the spectacular variety.
The USA finishes the 2012 campaign with a 9-2-3 record and a .750 winning percentage, which matches the all-time record for the top winning percentage of the modern era that was set in 2005 when the team went 13-3-4.
“We saw a very entertaining game,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “Russia proved why they are one of the best teams in Europe, and we wanted to see how good we are against such a strong team. The way our team fought back twice after being down a goal was great and it showed a lot of character. This is a young team, and a team that is growing. We are pleased with the game overall, and to score in the last minute was great.”
Diskerud’s game-tying goal came in the waning seconds of stoppage time after Michael Bradley sent a long ball toward the penalty area from just in front of the midfield line near the left sideline. Russia defender Sergei Ignashevich tried to clear, but his header bounced to the top of the penalty box where Diskerud struck a first-time shot that clipped a Russian defender and looped over the stranded goalkeeper into the net.
Russia has not allowed a goal during 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying.
Russia got on the board in just the ninth minute, making the USA pay for an early mistake when a Danny Williams short free kick was intercepted by Russia’s Alexander Kerzhakov, who rushed toward goal before dishing with the outside of his right foot to Fedor Smolov who was making a run into the right side of the penalty area. Smolov easily rolled his uncontested shot past Howard and inside the near post from 12 yards out for the 1-0 lead.
Smolov’s Russia senior team debut was short-lived as he was injured on the play and was soon replaced by Maxim Grigoriev in the 11th minute.
The U.S. overcame a short outing from central defender Carlos Bocanegra whose 110th career appearance came to an abrupt halt when he strained his left hamstring in the 15th minute. Clarence Goodson replaced the U.S. captain with Howard donning the armband.
Bradley’s equalizer, which came in the 76th minute, was a superb volley that showed both skill and power. Two second-half substitutes combined to create the goal as midfielder Maurice Edu chipped a pass to the forward line into Juan Agudelo who was making a run toward the top of the box. Agudelo headed the ball back to Bradley, who smashed his 20-yard volley off the lower part of the left post and in for his 11th career international goal and second of 2012.
Russia retook the lead in the 84th minute through a Roman Shirokov penalty kick. Goodson picked up a yellow card for fouling Russia’s Artem Dzyuba in the penalty box and Shirokov converted for a 2-1 lead.
Diskerud’s goal was the USA’s second stoppage-time score of the year. The other stoppage-time tally was Ricardo Clark’s 97th-minute goal to open 2012 with a 1-0 victory against Venezuela on Jan. 21.
The U.S. will now look ahead to the resumption of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying when the Hexagonal kicks off Feb. 6, 2013, on the road against Honduras. The USA is competing to qualify for its seventh straight FIFA World Cup.