032515_usmntdenmark_ap_ap198344727558 AP Photo/POLFOTO/Jens Dresling
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Two Late Goals Sink United States in Denmark

The United States men's national team took two, one-goal leads against the home side but three goals from Nicklas Bendtner proved too much for a American side in Aarhus.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
March 25, 2015
6:06 PM
AARHUS, Denmark—The United States suffered yet another late collapse Wednesday night as it held a 2-1 lead in the 80th minute only to lose 3-2 on a hat trick from Nicklas Bendtner. While the score reflected just a one-goal deficit, the U.S. team was outplayed decisively over 90 minutes.

Denmark out-possessed, out-passed, out-hustled, and throughly deserved the winner even though it took almost the full match to get ahead.

Even without team captain Clint Dempsey, Jurgen Klinsmann fielded a lineup that consisted of first team regulars John Brooks, Alejandro Bedoya, Jozy Altidore, and Timothy Chandler. In addition, Michael Bradley made the first start of his career as the U.S captain and Aron Johannsson entered the Starting Xi for the first time since October 2013.

The U.S. team opened the game controlling possession in the first few minutes but the Danish team soon took over. The home side created a series of chances but couldn't manage to score.

The Americans took the lead against the run of play in the 19th minute when Altidore made a fantastic individual effort to muscle past two Danish defenders and get on the end of a long cross from Timothy Chandler. He hammered a shot past Stephan Andersen to give the U.S. team a 1-0 lead.

Denmark continued to press following the goal and found an equalizer through some shockingly poor defending. Greg Garza was beaten on an initial through ball to IFK Goteborg’s Lasse Vibe and the subsequent cross found Brooks ball-watching and Chandler pulled way out of position. Bendtner was there for the easiest of finishes from close range.

Denmark nearly took the lead in the 45th minute when Garza was beaten badly by Vibe whose dangerous cross was just out of reach of multiple Danish forwards. The U.S team finished the first half with a paltry 36 percent possession, its lowest possession in a half in four years.

“We knew that Denmark is a very good possession-oriented team,” Klinsmann explained. “What we had problems with the first half was to get pressure on the ball, to get closer to them in midfield and shut them down in terms of their passing lanes and their space that they find. I think it was a bit better in the second half.”

Despite that advantage, the U.S. was very much in the game and Klinsmann chose to find positives from the performance.

“But as I said, there’s a lot of positive stuff,” Klinsmann said. “I think the backline overall did a very good job. From the left to the right, they were all on top of things as much as they could.”

Brek Shea and Alfredo Morales came on in second half to replace Fabian Johnson and Alejandro Bedoya, but Denmark picked up where it left off. Bendtner moved in behind the U.S. defense and fired a shot that went just wide. Moments later, Michael Orozco needed to clear a ball off the line after a shot skipped past Rimando.

Suddenly in the 67th minute, the U.S. team struck again against the run of play when Michael Bradley sent a beautiful looping pass over the defense that found Altidore. The Toronto FC forward had an good shot from the left side but elected to pass to Johannsson who was cutting into the area. Johannsson made the easy finish for an improbable 2-1 advantage.

“I think Michael Bradley was present in the midfield, trying to organize a lot,” Klinsmann said. “You’re always happy for your strikers when they score—Aron scoring in his second home and Jozy put the first one in.”

Moments later, Johannsson was substituted out of the game and received a warm round of applause from the crowd who appreciated his days playing for AGF.

The U.S. team kept the Danish team relatively quiet for the next 13 minutes but a costly mistake in the 81st minute allowed Denmark to equalize. A cross deflected off Garza and Ventura Alvarado, making his first appearance for the U.S team, was beaten in the air. The ball fell inside the six yard box for Bendtner who had his second easy finish of the game.

Denmark began to surge again and press forward late in the game. It found the winner in the 90th minute when Bendtler completed his hat trick with his best goal of the game. He out-hustled Brooks and made a superb first touch to set up a quick shot that beat Rimando to the far post and sent the crowd of 10,505 home happy.

“If you leave the field empty [handed], then it’s a bit frustrating,” Klinsmann added. “This is how it goes. I think overall it was a very even game, it was an entertaining game, an eye-to-eye game, and we could’ve won it. But we didn’t at the end of the day. We saw a lot of good things that we wanted to see on our end.”

“We have to step it up in terms of managing the game all 90 minutes,” he added. “You lead in Denmark 2-1 and you can’t get it done, the job, or at least tie it. We didn’t do that so there’s still stuff to improve but overall I think they did a lot of good stuff tonight.”

With the loss, the U.S. team has now suffered late game collapses in five straight games on FIFA games. There were late equalizers conceded against Ecuador and Honduras last October. In November, Colombia scored a late winner and Ireland scored multiple goals towards the end in a 4-1 route.

With this loss, it is more of the same. Next up Switzerland.

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