In the lone friendly before the Hex resumes, the United States Men’s Nation Team played to a 1-1 draw against Venezuela at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, UT. Christian Pulisic, the 18-year-old wunderkind, scored his fifth career international goal and Tim Howard once again played hero in an underwhelming performance.
Venezuela started the game playing very physical, picking up two fouls in the first minute. From about 35 yards out in the first minute of the game, Clint Dempsey lined up a free kick. Perhaps looking for that goal-scoring record, he took a shot and the ball never had a chance of going in.
For the next couple of minutes the game was wide open. Bobby Wood, Fabian Johnson, and DeAndre Yedlin all made moves to get open down the right line, as Venezuela tried to catch the Americans on the counter attack. In the first 10 minutes, both teams had crosses go straight across the frame of the goal with no one getting on the end of them.
In the 14th minute, Michael Bradley held the ball on the back line before hitting a 50-yard bomb down the field to Yedlin. Yedlin headed it to Johnson, who was clear on goal. Instead of shooting, Johnson hesitated before moving the ball over to his left foot. He then passed it along to Clint Dempsey, who could not even get a shot off.
The U.S. had its next chance in the 21st minute. Yedlin played Pulisic into the final third and he made one move to get open before putting in a cross. The cross was defended out for a corner, but the U.S. was not able to do anything with it.
Two minutes later, La Vinotinto had a free kick about 10 yards outside the American box. Júnior Moreno lined up to take it but his ball went straight into the hands of Howard.
Venezuela earns a free kick but its no match for Timmy Howard #usmnt #USAvVEN #timhoward pic.twitter.com/rFmlpi3sDm— GolazoJuice (@GolazoJuice) June 4, 2017
Venezuela broke the deadlock in the 30th minute after poor U.S. defending from a corner. The U.S. defended the first ball well, but then fell asleep on the second ball. Both John Brooks and Fabian Johnson were ball watching, and that led to José Manuel Velázquez wide open in the six-yard box. Velázquez jumped-kicked the ball into the back of the net, which Howard had no chance at stopping.
Jose Manuel Velazquez loses Brooks and Johnson to put Venezuela on top against the #USMNT. #USAvVEN https://t.co/9VrpaMdcVb— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 4, 2017
Three minutes later, La Vinotinto had two more opportunities on goal, but Howard saved the ball-watching, American defense. Howard first went stretched out, flying across the face of the goal to push the ball out for a corner. On the ensuing corner he then made another diving save, this time stopping the ball on the goal line.
Timmy being Timmy.#USAvVEN | #USMNT pic.twitter.com/xd8mMcSdGc— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) June 4, 2017
The U.S. held possession throughout the remainder of the half but was unable to do anything with it. Venezuela remained strong defensively and the Yanks struggled to break through. They held 65% possession, but were not able to get a single shot on target, and Head Coach Bruce Arena’s half time comments perfectly summed up his team’s performance, “Possession means nothing.” There were a couple of chances for the Red, White & Blue, but they struggle to do anything in the final third.
"Possession means nothing." - Bruce Arena at halftime of #USAvVEN.— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 4, 2017
Second half coming up on @FS1! https://t.co/1djNxh6IdA
Arena made one substitution at halftime, bringing in Omar Gonzalez for Geoff Cameron. Arena was not impressed with his team’s defense and was hoping that Gonzalez would hold the defensive shape of the Yanks.
The U.S. came out in the second half strong. Darlington Nagbe played Jorge Villafaña down the left hand side, a part of the field that was seldom used in the first half. Villafaña put in a cross in that found the head of Dempsey, but Deuce could not put it on target.
Two minutes later, Dempsey had the ball in the box, and took a shot. The ball hit Pablo Camacho’s hand, but the ref made no call, much to the Americans’ chagrin.
Another shout for hand ball, ref doesn't call it though #usmnt #USAvVEN pic.twitter.com/GigD4OJvHX— GolazoJuice (@GolazoJuice) June 4, 2017
For the next 10 minutes the game came to a standstill, with neither team able to do much with the ball. But then, in the 63rd minute, Pulisic slowly walked away from the box, finding space for himself 20 yards out. Johnson’s last touch of the match before being subbed out was finding the wide open 18-year-old, who cut to the left before powering it home into the back post. That tied the game at one, and opened it up.
See?! #USMNT #USAvVEN https://t.co/aeQlsJllpl— FourFourTwo USA (@FourFourTwoUSA) June 4, 2017
The U.S. then made a few substitutions, and changed shape to a 3-5-2, with Yedlin and Villafaña playing as wing backs. Johnson and Dempsey made way for Kellyn Acosta and Tim Ream. Then, a few minutes later, Jordan Morris came on for Nagbe. These substitutions changed the game some, and both teams needed some more time to feel each other out.
It took until the 77th minute for the subs to make an impact. Acosta took a free kick from almost corner kick range. The ball fell to the back post where Ream was standing, but he wasn't ready for it and could not make good contact with the ball.
In the 80th minute, Morris nearly got on the score sheet, but goalkeeper José Contreras was too quick off his line and Morris was half a second too slow. Morris had another chance five minutes later, but his header on goal went straight into the hands of Contreras.
The U.S. had a corner in the first of five minutes of extra time. An Acosta ball was pinpoint accurate onto Gonzalez’s head. Although a powerful effort, the header went wide of the post, and the game remained tied at one. The Yanks started to push players forward, trying to get the game winner, but sloppy play led to turnovers and the U.S. failed to even get a shot off as the game ended.
The USMNT play again on June 8 at 7 p.m. ET and June 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET against Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico, respectively. Both games can be seen on FS1.