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Direct from Russia

Character and Commitment: The U.S. Keeps Fighting

The American team went down early against Russia on Wednesday night. But instead of giving up, the United States came back twice from a goal down to earn a draw.
BY Noah Davis Posted
November 14, 2012
2:30 PM
KRASNODAR, Russia—They could have folded. Taken their ball and gone home. We would have (sort of) understood: It was cold. It was loud. Russia is really, really good. And, suddenly, inexplicably, the United States national team was down after Danny Williams did, well, whatever it was that Danny Williams did.

But instead of quitting, the Americans kept pushing. They started slow and knew it, but they didn't panic. They packed together, regrouped, and started getting back into the match. The positive reaction to the adverse circumstances didn't surprise Tim Howard.

"Some guys are selfish and play for themselves. That's not what this group is about," the goalkeeper, who kept the U.S in the game with some impressive saves, said. "We still have to learn from the bad things and the mistakes, but that's life and we'll get better. But it is good to have the commitment and the hard work because you know that when the chips go down—and they will, from time to time—that we're not going to give up, that we are a bunch of fighters." Other players agreed.

And so did the coach. "The way our team fought back twice after being down a goal was great," Jurgen Klinsmann said. "It showed a lot of character, a lot of personality from our young team, a team that is growing up." Which doesn't change the fact that Klinsmann was very disappointed with the opening minutes: "For our players, it's important that the realize that in an international game you have to be spot on from the first second," he continued. "We have to be sharper. We have to be mentally fresher in those decisive moments. We can't give away the first goal."

The Americans, of course, came back and tied the match only to give up a second tally to Russia. But the comeback kids responded once again.

"That's the American mentality: you never give up," said Mix Diskerud, the sub who scored in the 93rd minute. "We were hoping for that last goal. When they scored at the end, a lot of teams would give up. But we didn't. And it paid off."

The scene in Krasnodar wasn't "USA!-USA!-USA!" There were no World Cup spots at stake, no next rounds to reach. There was little glory. Just pride. And still, the Stars and Stripes kept coming.

"The character, the mentality [we showed] to slowly get ourselves back in the game was great," Michael Bradley pointed out. "When you look at the last 25 minutes of the first half and into the second half, I think we deserved at least a point."

Bradley is right: The Americans did earn a point on Wednesday night. Perhaps more importantly, they proved one, too.

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