In a game in which France was expected to demolish the United States, a young American side defended like crazy and held the star-studded French to just a single goal. Julian Green’s first-half goal came away from the run of play, and somehow the Yanks pulled off a 1-1 draw against one of the World Cup favorites in Lyon.
In most likely his last game in charge of the U.S., interim head coach Dave Sarachan brought his team out in a heavily defensive starting XI, that consisted of 10 players with 10 or fewer caps — Bobby Wood was the lone player with more, making his 39th.
It took less than five minutes for France to get its first opportunity. After the U.S. failed to clear a corner and Green turned it over, Paul Pogba made some space for himself and fired a rocket into the near post. Zack Steffen was right there with the dive and got just a touch on it to ensure it hit the bar instead of going in. About four minutes later, the home crowd was yelling for a penalty kick. Pogba had a little flick that went over the top looking for Olivier Giroud. Cameron Carter-Vickers was there to break up the attack, and while there was a little contact, it was not enough for a foul.
The U.S. tried to get forward a few times following that play but nobody up top was able to get onto balls played forward and it was all France as the Yanks sat back and defended. In the 21st minute, Antoine Griezmann narrowly missed looking for the back post. A minute later, Griezmann headed it into the box for Pogba, who flicked it towards the back post but no Frenchman was there. In the 26th minute, Kylian Mbappe’s 20-yard shot was heading for the top corner but Matt Miazga deflected it out of bounds. Then the French hit the U.S. on the break and Carter-Vickers barely got a foot on another Mbappe shot as the young Americans held on for their lives.
The U.S. had its first chance of the game in the 36th minute. Bobby Wood was in on goal but the ball in from Antonee Robinson was just a bit too far in front. The play then ended up being called back for offside.
In the 43rd minute, the U.S. connected a nice string of passes, got down the field and won a corner. Wil Trapp put the ball in, it bounced around but France was able to clear it. Minutes later, Shaq Moore worked hard down the right hand side, looked up, and sent in a low cross that should have been cleared. Djibril Sidibe had a poor touch, and Green made history with a first-time shot that beat Hugo Lloris at the near post for the first goal the U.S. has ever scored against France.
#USMNT scored their 1st ever goal against #France, with their only shot of the half! It came out of nowhere, after very little possession and a lot of time defending. Julian Green capitalized on Sidibe's bad mistake, Lloris should've done better at his near post. #FRAvUSA #FRAUSA pic.twitter.com/ba5ZP8bnt4— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) June 9, 2018
Despite being outplayed, the U.S. went into halftime with a one-goal lead. France had more shots (6-1), shots on target (3-1), possession (65%), corners (5-1), and was ahead in just about every statistical category, but Green’s fourth international goal at the end of the half gave the Yanks the lead.
There were no changes by either team to start the second half and minutes in Wood found the back of the net. However, he made a lazy run and was offside. France got right down the field and Griezmann found Blaise Matuidi, who fired a rocket into the upper deck. In the 52nd minute, Pogba nearly created a goal all by himself but he could not get the ball across goal after two one-twos and it went out for a goal kick.
It looked like France was going to tie up the game in the 61st minute. Mbappe had the ball and dribbled across the top of the box but his shot was blocked in front by a diving Carter-Vickers. France then turned up the heat and started to have chance after chance as the Yanks defended with all 10 field players.
As the French chances grew, so did the Americans’ foul count but the home team could not capitalize on its 14 free kicks. However, France was the better team on the night and Mbappe found the back of the net in the 79th minute. It was a simple finish for the teenager as tired legs by the U.S. and great ball movement from France created the opportunity.
#France finally get their goal after endless pressure, with Kylian Mbappé guiding Pavard's cross into the bottom corner. That was a long-time coming, #USMNT were defending too deep for too long. 1-1. #FRAvUSA #FRAUSA pic.twitter.com/xTUxvDDuNw— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) June 9, 2018
A minute later Nabil Fekir, took a free kick that was destined for goal but Steffen made a diving save to keep it tied at one.
In the 93rd minute, Steffen made a great reaction save as a ball in deflected off of Tyler Adams’ face and caught Steffen out of position. The ‘keeper was able to recover and push it over the bar for a corner. Minutes later Steffen made a double save in the dying minutes to keep the ball out and earn a draw.
France ended the game with 69% possession and out-shot the Americans, 19-2. The Yanks’ lone shot on goal ended up in the back of the net, while Steffen’s brilliant outing, highlighted by seven saves, could cement himself as the next long-term starting ‘keeper.
It was a great result for a young U.S. side to close the three-game break. The only drawback was a midair collision that opened cuts in both Matt Miazga and Giroud. Miazga ended up getting stitches and is being checked for concussion.
Dave Sarachan says Matt Miazga took 15 stitches in his head. USSF spokesman adds Miazga has started concussion protocol and will be monitored, Sarachan didn't think Miazga has a concussion tho. #usmnt— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) June 9, 2018
That’s it for the U.S. until September. The next scheduled match is Sept. 11 in Nashville against Mexico.