Recap: Denmark 3–2 USMNT

On a rainy, windy night, the U.S. took the lead twice, but surrendered it both times, then fell victim to a beautiful pass and finish from Christian Eriksen and Nicklas Bendtner to lose, 3–2, in Aarhus on Wednesday.

First half

The U.S. lined up with Nick Rimando in goal; Timmy Chandler, Michael Orozco, John Brooks, and Greg Garza in defense; Gyasi Zardes, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley (captain), and Fabian Johnson in midfield; and Jozy Altidore partnering Aron Johannsson in a front two.

The U.S. started fairly well, keeping Denmark at bay, but with Bradley and Bedoya outnumbered in midfield, the Americans were too loose in their passing and had difficulty maintaining possession.

Denmark, however, wasn’t doing much with the ball, either, reduced to a few crosses into the U.S. box that were relatively easily dealt with. However, the Danes grew into the game and began to dominate possession, with Christian Eriksen pulling the strings. In the 16th, Michael Krohn-Dehli took a pull-back from Eriksen and nearly placed a bending ball on Nicklas Bendtner’s foot at the back post. Moments later, after another good ball from Eriksen was cleared, Chandler lost a challenge with Nicolai Boilesen, who ran into the box and crossed. Eriksen picked the ball up and had a shot from a tight angle but missed high and wide.

Denmark seemed sure to score soon, but from the restart on Eriksen’s missed shot, the U.S. went ahead. Chandler played a one-two with Bedoya on the right side, drove upfield, then launched a long crossfield pass over the top to Altidore, who finished from an acute angle with a difficult left-foot volley.

Denmark was shaken by the goal, and the U.S. came back into the game, but the Danes would regain their control soon. And, on 33 minutes, the best passing move of the game resulted in Denmark’s equalizer. Eriksen and co. played one-touch passes around Garza and into the U.S. box, where Daniel Wass had a clear crossing opportunity. His ball was flicked on by Lasse Vibe to Bendtner, who was unmarked for a tap-in. Both Zardes and Chandler were well out of position, marking no one, on the play.

The U.S. looked to see out the half even, but nearly gave away an eerily similar goal in the 45th. Garza was beaten or fouled by Vibe, depending on your point of view. Vibe sent in a low cross to Bendtner, but the big striker couldn’t apply the finishing touch, and his flicked attempt went wide.

Second half

The U.S. made two subs at halftime, bringing on Brek Shea and Alfonso Morales for Johnson and Bedoya. Denmark nearly took advantage of the U.S. while those players settled in, repeatedly cutting through the U.S. midfield on the left side.

Denmark was dominant, with Bendtner nearly getting his second after a Danish goalkick split the U.S. center backs, but his shot was wide. Eriksen was beginning to really sing, playing a one-touch pass over the U.S. defense to Vibe in the 57th, but Vibe’s volley went high and wide.

But in the 66th, the U.S. would go in front. An excellent entry ball over the top from Bradley found Altidore alone in the box with only the keeper to beat. Instead, he centered the ball to Johannsson, who poked home. Great movement from Shea had freed Altidore for the run, and the pass and finish were spot on.

The U.S. made subs and the game quieted down, with the U.S. seeming to do better than in the first half to hold the ball and shield the defense when without it. But Denmark grew increasingly dangerous again, pushing the U.S. deeper and deeper, and in the 83rd, Bendtner would find the second equalizer. A cross from the U.S.’s left touchline deflected high and fell toward the center of the goal, where Chandler nodded a header down, straight to Bendtner, who sidefooted home from six yards.

While giving up the lead hurt, the U.S. still looked to hold onto the draw, but in the 91st, Eriksen would have the final word, again playing a phenomenal diagonal ball behind the U.S. defense to Bendtner, who took it out of the air with one touch, then laced a perfect volley across goal into the one stretch of net Rimando could not cover.

The U.S. had one final chance, and should have earned that draw. Bradley took a deep free kick from the left and sent a perfect ball into the box, freezing the keeper on his line. Brooks was there with a free header, but placed it well wide. He should have done better, but it was not to be.

U.S. verdict

Jozy continues his scoring form: Make it four in six for Altidore in the U.S. uniform. He looked dangerous on the ball when he had it; he just didn’t have it enough.

Altidore/Johannsson partnership a work in progress: In the first half, both strikers tried and failed to find each other, and were too often parallel, rather than aligned vertically, creating a big gap between them and midfield. In the second, they connected for a goal, but it may have been their only connection on the night.

Bradley better: This was much more like the Michael Bradley U.S. fans like to see. With a ton of ground to cover, he was all-action, touching nearly every blade of grass on the pitch. His free kicks were consistently dangerous, and it was his pass that earned the U.S. its second goal, and should have earned it its third.

U.S. wide defense a mess: Chandler was especially bad defensively, at fault in part for two of the goals, but Denmark was consistently able to cross balls from the wings to dangerous areas without getting closed down fast enough. It was a rough night for both fullbacks, and their midfield support wasn’t good enough.

Final thoughts

At halftime of the ESPN broadcast, a graphic was shown that reported that, since the World Cup, the U.S. had scored ten first-half goals and given up three, while giving up nine second-half goals and scoring none. While the scoring hoodoo was broken, the U.S. again failed to hold on in a second half. After a while, it’s not simply coincidence. Something isn’t quite right with the U.S. defensively, whether it be communication, tactics, or something else, and it needs to be sorted out, stat. While the U.S. didn’t play that great, it could have, and perhaps should have won this game, and certainly should have had the draw.

1-Nick Rimando; 21-Timothy Chandler, 15-Michael Orozco (19-Ventura Alvarado, 80), 6-John Brooks, 3-Greg Garza; 20-Gyasi Zardes (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 67) 11-Alejandro Bedoya (7-Alfredo Morales, 46), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 23-Fabian Johnson (13-Brek Shea, 46); 17-Jozy Altidore, 9-Aron Johannsson (18-Rubio Rubin, 67)
Subs not used: 5-Tim Ream, 10-Miguel Ibarra, 14-Danny Williams, 16-Julian Green, 22-Williams Yarbrough
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

16-Stephan Andersen; 2-Daniel Wass, 3-Simon Kjar, 4-Erik Sviatchenko, 5-Nicolai Bollesen (17-Simon Busk Poulsen, 53); 7-William Kvist (23-Anders Christiansen, 46), 18-Jakob Poulsen (19-Thomas Delaney, 46), 21-Lasse Vibe (8-Martin Braithwaite, 74), 10-Christian Eriksen (capt.); 9-Michael Krohn-Dehli (14-Lasse Schöne, 78), 11-Nicklas Bendtner
Subs not used: 1-Kasper Schmeichel, 6-Las Jacobsen, 12-Mathias Zanka Jorgensen, 13-Kian H. Hansen, 22-Jonas Lössl
Head Coach: Morten Olsen

Scoring Summary
USA: Jozy Altidore (Timothy Chandler) 19
DEN: Nicklas Bendtner (Lasse Vibe) 33
USA: Aron Johannsson (Jozy Altidore) 66
DEN: Nicklas Bendtner 83
DEN: Nicklas Bendtner (Christian Eriksen) 90+1

Disciplinary Summary
DEN: William Kvist (caution) 25
USA: Jozy Altidore (caution) 78
USA: Ventura Alvarado (caution)89

Stats Summary: USA / DEN
Shots: 4 / 12
Shots on Goal: 2 / 5
Saves: 2 / 0
Corner Kicks: 3 / 4
Fouls: 17 / 13
Offside: 1 / 0

Referee: Mattias Gestranius (FIN)
Assistant Referee 1: Jan-Peter Aravirta (FIN)
Assistant Referee 2: Mikko Alakare (FIN)
Fourth Official: Mads-Kristoffer Kristoffersen (DEN)

Venue: NRGi Park; Aarhus, Denmark
Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET
Attendance: 10,505
Weather: 41 degrees; Cloudy


  1. OMG! Again with the 2 half swoon!

  2. My five year old, who watches almost every game I watch with me: Juve, Real Madrid, Barca, Athletico, Liverpool ad infinitum- up to 3 or 4 games a week said to me in minute 42, ” I’m bored.The team we are rooting for in blue always kicks the ball to the other team.”
    For the second time in as many days. I rest my case.
    Wait wait one final thing: Chandler and Zardes were awful. Didn’t even watch 2nd half. Thankfully I guess.

    • Chandler has bee awful for awhile now. I have no idea what Klinsman sees in him. John Brooks was the only bright spot on the defense. Josie looked good. Johannsson was absent till his goal(put on a plate by Josie). Bradley was his usual stellar self. Bedoya, Johnson, Rimando, and the rest all looked below average. I’m sorry but Nick Rimando can’t be a part of the National team going forward.
      More and more I’m starting to think Klinsman needs to move up and be the Director of U.S. soccer, and not the coach. His ‘strategy’ and coaching decisions always seem lacking. I know this has been the knock on him with the German team, and there just seems to be more evidence of this every game they play.

      • All4U……..I respectfully disagree about Brooks. Our CB’s looked disjointed all evening…he and Orozco got beat on the first goal……and on the third goal he completely pussed out blocking Bendtner shot! Josie did look good last night…..created things out of nothing….especially the first goal.

      • He gave a lethal striker, and Bendtner is a lethal striker, a window on the 3rd gol. You ducking in 78th minute of Quarters to get your team knocked out?
        Wonder when JK is going to settle on a lineup and a repeatable formation. So disjointed last night.

      • as a gooner…..I have a love/hate relationship with Bendtner!

    • I don’t particularly blame Zardes, he’s not a midfielder . . . definitely not a wide one. Square peg round hole, would never be there in games that mattered. Shows how good we had it with that rec league guy Don Ovan

      • Zardes….awesome against Panama…….nightmare yesterday…..

      • Agreed. Much like the Union with Wenger/Le Toux on the wings, Zardes is not a natural fit and so gets caught high and is not as effective helping his fullback defensively.

  3. ….I’ve seen high school team’s back 4’s keep a better shape than ours did yesterday…….no joke. They were awful…….yes Eriksen played a nice ball on the match-winner……but look how screwed up the back 4 line was….it looked like the front of Charlie Brown’s shirt! Nobody should just be able to play a ball over-the-top like that and get caught. I would go ape$hit on my back 4 if they did that! The Danes first goal….yes Garza played a crappy pass…..but why the hell did Bradley play him that ball with two guys closing on him to begin with? Another poor showing…and we still almost got a result……

  4. Defensive subs are rare for a reason. Fans want a result, but JK doesn’t care. He got us through the group of Death in the WC, if he wins the Gold Cup, none of this matters. If he doesn’t win that-then he is failing. Not now. He can tick a few names off.

    • Ken agree, JK could give a rats a$$ what the American public thinks. He repeatedly has said he’s going to try things and do as much as he can to get these guys out of their comfort zones…if results suffer… be it. The test will be the Gold Cup this summer……if they fail to win it……I think then JK will have some answering to do……

    • I hear you ken but truthfully, from my POV, Clint Dempsey got us through the group of death by scoring a gol :30 into the game against Ghana. Had that early early early gol not been scored they would not have advanced- only a fine strike by Jone’s was of any quality for remainder of games.

  5. Definitely doesn’t hurt that Jozy and MB are playing for the same club team now.

  6. Some sad nonsense here. what does “get them out of their comfort zones mean?” Is it the coaches job to make players uncomfortable? Why not put offense on defense and vica-versa. That will make them uncomfortable for sure. Or maybe lets try to set up any system that the players can use to feel comfortable enough to make 2 or 3 passes in a row?

    • I’m inclined to agree. Why are we not settled on a system of play – and running the players out there building familiarity and comfort and Holy shit some semblance of creative continuity.
      We’re not good enough to be rooting around with this line up this system of play this formation this group of players this this this this…
      I am really really really surprised JK hasn’t decided to implement his personal vision philosophy and plan after World Cup and give the same ‘main 18’ the chance to gel. Shake it up.
      Go young with just the right touch of veteran leadership (but not too old in four years) and run the same team with the same system with the same philosophy out there every time through all the friendlies and more minor tourneys all the way up to the WC in 4 years. It is my opinion that by now he should know what he has – who he wants and have the balls to cut bait with the dreck and organize everything towards 18.
      He’s wishy washy and it shows in wishy washy play.

      • more mediocre footballers than ever before…..but the best of the best were better 10-15 years ago……..figure that out?

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