Recap: Switzerland 1–1 USMNT

The U.S. managed to look much, much improved while still finding a way to break down late in the second half to earn a draw in Switzerland on Tuesday. For much of the game, the U.S. was the better team, and Brek Shea put them in front late in the first half with a very well taken free kick. But Jozy Altidore would be sent off in the second half, and Switzerland, ramping up the pressure, eventually found an equalizer.

First half

The U.S. lined up slightly differently than against Denmark, with Shea replacing Greg Garza in defense, Danny Williams and Alfredo Morales entering a diamond midfield with Michael Bradley and Alejandro Bedoya, and Gyasi Zardes moving up front with Altidore in place of Aron Johannsson.

The changes paid immediate dividends, with the U.S. holding the ball better and ensuring that this match would be much tighter than the last against Denmark. In fact, as the half wore on, the U.S. grew more and more comfortable, creating the majority of chances, and looking the more dominant side. Most danger was coming from the flanks, with the U.S. putting in a series of crosses from either side but never quite connecting. In the 14th, a Bedoya cross from the right found Zardes free at the back post, but he could not wrap his left boot around the ball to put it on net.

In the 27th, the U.S. should have opened the scoring. Good work by Altidore at the top of the Swiss box recovered the ball, and he sent Bedoya through the defense. Bedoya cut the ball back onto Bradley’s foot, but he left-footed shot flew high from just outside the six.

Meanwhile, Switzerland was creating little, occasionally trying to break off U.S. turnovers. Nothing came of any of the moves, and more often than not, Switzerland found a way to pass the ball out of bounds after evading U.S. ball pressure, or resorted to falling to ground theatrically.

The 32nd minute brought another good chance for the U.S. More great hold-up play by Altidore in the center circle turned into a U.S. break, with Shea charging up the left wing and sending in a great cross. The Swiss allowed the ball to bounce in the box, and Bedoya pounced, but put his header straight at the keeper.

The Swiss would have their chance, however, in the 39th. Xherdan Shaqiri finally found space to dribble on the left and drove into the U.S. box. His cross inside the six found the feet of Admir Mehmedi, but he failed to turn the ball goalward, and the chance went begging when it looked for all the world like Switzerland would take the lead against the run of play.

But Shea would make sure the U.S. led at the break after Swiss captain Gokhan Inler fouled Morales just outside the U.S. box, slightly on the right side. Shea stepped up and lasered the ball into the top right corner, lifting his shot up and over the wall and into the net, leaving the keeper with no chance. It was a finish of the highest quality, and the last kick of the half.

Second half

The U.S. took right up where it left off, twice coming close in the early stages of the second half. On 49 minutes, a Chandler cross was headed straight up by a defender. Zardes challenged and beat the keeper for the ball in the air, but his header bounced just wide of the goal. In the 52nd, another Chandler cross was parried by the keeper, again under pressure from Zardes, but straight to Bradley at the top of the box. His first touch wasn’t quite good enough, though, and the defense stole in before he could get a shot away.

The U.S. would regret leaving those chances on the table when Altidore was shown a straight red card in the 68th minute. After being fouled moments before, then losing the ball once the ref had waved play on, Altidore took out his frustrations on the Swiss defender who took up the ball. The foul was obvious, but not at all violent, and Altidore took the stop in play as an opportunity to berate the ref with some choice language. The official took offense, and pulled the red card from his pocket. A softer red card you will only rarely see, but Altidore was foolish to allow the ref the opportunity to give it.

The Swiss, having looked lethargic until that point, took their man advantage and ran with it, ratcheting up pressure on the U.S. goal with a series of crosses and corners.

In the 74th, Breel Embolo beat two men on the U.S.’s left touchline, and sent in a cross that second-half substitute William Yarbrough did well to push away. Moments later, after a short corner, Yarbrough couldn’t reach a cross sent to the back post by Shaqiri, but Pajtim Kasami couldn’t direct his header on net.

In the 79th, the U.S. almost conceded an own goal. Cutting into the center of the field after another short corner, Gelson Fernandes’s cross was dummied by Embolo and deflected off John Brooks and out for a corner, just wide of the U.S. goal.

And in the 80th, the Swiss would find their equalizer. Yet another short corner, this time from the U.S. right, was sent into the box by Granit Xhaka. Two U.S. defenders challenged for the ball, but it was nevertheless tapped straight down to Valentin Stocker to tap home. While Chandler, manning the post, might have left it sooner to mark Stocker, the goal was less a defensive error and more lucky than good—good luck for the Swiss, bad for the U.S.

Switzerland huffed and puffed for the winner, with tired U.S. legs giving the ball away too frequently, but the Americans held on for the tie.

U.S. verdict

Glass half-full? Until the sending off, this performance was a huge improvement for the U.S. And yet, they still managed to give away a game from a winning position. On balance, the game had a lot more good in it than bad, though, so U.S. fans should be encouraged by this performance, rather than discouraged by the recurring theme of late disappointment.

Jozy must be smarter. Altidore played quite well again, until his frustrations with the referee earned him an early shower. In a friendly, such a call was always unlikely, but Altidore put himself in a bad situation by yapping at the ref. If Jozy keeps his mouth shut, the U.S. doesn’t go down a man, and perhaps Switzerland is never roused to attack in the way that they did.

Shea, Zardes, and Morales were all impressive. Shea scored a cracker of a free kick—power, placement, everything you want—but was also sound defensively and put in several dangerous crosses. Zardes looked more effective running centrally than he did from out wide, as against Denmark, and had several opportunities that went close to scoring. Morales was a bit more up and down, but showed many good touches, allied with tenacious defense.

But Bedoya might have been the stealth MVP. Alejandro Bedoya continues his strong play for the U.S., featuring in many of the best offensive moves, and tracking back relentlessly, as always. He rarely gets the plaudits he deserves, and works very well with Michael Bradley.

Final thoughts

How is this the same team that played against Denmark? Sure, there were a few personnel changes, and the formation switch helped a lot, but the overall effort level, not to mention sharpness in passing and pressing, were all improved greatly. The challenge for Klinsmann is to get the same from his team every game. A little bit smarter play from one of his leaders, and the team might finally have gotten the win their coach — and the team’s fans — is so desperately seeking.

That will have to wait, but at least there are more positives to reflect on between now and June, when the U.S. takes on the Netherlands and Germany.

1-Nick Rimando (22-William Yarbrough, 46); 21-Timmy Chandler, 15-Michael Orozco (19-Ventura Alvarado, 46), 6-John Brooks, 13-Brek Shea; 14-Danny Williams, 11-Alejandro Bedoya (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 76), 7-Alfredo Morales (5-Tim Ream, 89), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.); 20-Gyasi Zardes (8-Jordan Morris, 89), 17-Jozy Altidore (sendoff, 68)
Subs Not Used: 3-Greg Garza, 10-Miguel Ibarra, 16-Julian Green, 18-Rubio Rubin
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

21-Roman Burki; 2-Stephan Lichsteiner (6-Silvan Widner, 46), 22-Fabian Schar, 5-Steve von Bergen, 3- Jacques Fracois Moubandje; 8-Gokhan Inler (capt.) (10-Granit Xhaka, 46), 16-Gelson Fernandes (9-Haris Seferovic, 72), 7-Fabian Frei (17-Pajtim Kasami, 46), 23-Xherdan Shaqiri; 19- Josip Drmic (15-Breel Embolo, 56), 18-Admir Mehmedi (14-Valentin Stocker, 46)
Subs Not Used: 1-Yann Sonner, 4-Fabian Lustenberger, 11-Valon Behrani, 12-Marwin Hitz, 13-Ricardo Rodriguez, 20-Johan Djourou
Head coach: Vladimir Petkovic

Scoring Summary
USA – Brek Shea — 45th minute
SUI – Valentin Stocker (Silvan Widner) — 80

Stats Summary (USA / SUI)
Shots: 6 / 12
Shots on Goal: 3 / 2
Saves: 1 / 2
Corner Kicks: 1 / 8
Fouls: 14 / 13
Offside: 1 / 2

Misconduct Summary
USA – Jozy Altidore (caution) — 68th minute
USA – Jozy Altidore (ejection) — 68

Referee: Luca Banti (ITA)
Assistant Referee 1: Riccardo Di Fiore (ITA)
Assistant Referee 2: Filippo Meli (ITA)
4th Official: Alain Bieri (SUI)

Venue: Stadion Letzigrund; Zurich, Switzerland
Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (6 p.m. Local)
Attendance: 16,100
Weather: 48 degrees, cloudy


  1. The Black Hand says:

    Skin of our teeth…

  2. OneManWolfpack says:

    Yeah. Stupid red card, but Shea’s strike was amazing. Good for him. Hope it kicks his butt in gear… for the US team only of course. HA!

  3. I saw a different game. The Swiss, just having played a qualifier, were on vacation today. They put in a minimal effort and were ripe to be beaten. Looked like they would be happy with a 0-0 draw. USA was still very disorganized , Bradley was horrific. Zardes is not ready for this level.Shea is a big liability on defense. Altidore played like he usually does.Looks like the new German Tactician will be taking over de facto soon. You could see him giving instructions on what to do with a man down. The Odessey continues.

  4. Great One says:

    Bedoya had a very solid game, and Jozy is still definitely our best option up front. Zardes has some intriguing skill but isn’t quite ready for his level with his touch. Bradley was typical Bradley, but is still crazily being used up top instead of as DM. Shea’s a liability, but a good option going forward. The defenese in general is very shakey still. I just didn’t see it with Morales. He has that quickness to him, but he was always slightly out of position and didn’t quite have good touch.
    A lot to work on, but at least it was better than Denmark

    • Bedoya is very consistent and arguably the best player on the team. He is reliable and without flash.
      Do you find it as stupefying as I do when you see the first touch of our players against the likes of south american and european competition.
      Our first touch tends to move us towards danger and the escaping of time while their first touch moves towards the clearing and benefit of time and space.
      Subtle nuance in a world game, like any game played at a high level that is often determined in multiple splits of a second.

  5. Rodney Marsh said this morning that the US still looks like a dog running around the beach chasing a Frisbee. Quite right. They do not control the ball and their whole strategy against good teams is based on the counter attacking soccer, as it has been for years. Klinsmann really has not brought anything new, except for 5 German born players who barely speak English.

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