TIANJIN, China (Aug. 10, 2008) – The U.S. Men’s Olympic Soccer team was just minutes away from clinching a spot in the knockout stage after two games, but a late equalizer from the Netherlands shocked the U.S. for a 2-2 tie on Sunday at the Tianjin Olympic Sports Center Stadium.
The Netherlands took command early on a goal by Liverpool’s Ryan Babel, but the U.S. answered in the second half with a 64th minute goal by Sacha Kljestan and took the lead when Jozy Altidore struck in the 72nd.
However, in the third of three minutes of added time to the second half, Netherlands substitute Gerald Sibon drove a low free kick under the U.S. wall from 21 yards out to tie the game.
"It's tough," said U.S. head coach Peter Nowak. "As I told the guys in the locker room, that's the way the game goes sometimes. Not too many people gave us a chance tonight against the European champions, but we were very close to beating them. We have unfinished business. Going into the game with Nigeria, any result other than a loss, and we will pass into the quarterfinals."
The U.S. needs a win or tie in their final match of Group B vs. Nigeria or a loss by the Netherlands to Japan on Wed., Aug. 13 to advance to the quarterfinals. The U.S. vs. Nigeria match will be show live at 5 a.m. ET on USA Network, the Olympic Soccer Channel and ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
The U.S. will be heading into the game against Nigeria without the services of forward Freddy Adu and midfielder Michael Bradley, who were both issued their second yellow cards of the tournament. Adu earned his in the 78th minute for a challenge with Dutch goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer in which the U.S. forward stuck a foot in and hit the goalkeeper in the hand and forehead, while Bradley was booked for wasting time on a restart in stoppage time.
Nowak started the same lineup as the first match, with Robbie Rogers switching to the right and Stuart Holden switching to the left.
The Netherlands got things going in the 16th minute. Jonathan de Guzman caught up with a pass near the end line on the right and chipped a touch cross to the top of the six yard box where Ryan Babel headed it on goal. U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan dropped to the ground to make the save, but the rebound fell right back to Babel, who in the middle of three U.S. defenders who were late to converge, calmly slotted a high shot into the back of the net.
The first U.S. chance of the match didn’t come until the 27th minute after the U.S. shifted formations, moving Freddy Adu to right midfield, Rogers moving back to the left and Holden sliding into the middle of the field. Adu received the ball just into the U.S. half and then went on a long dribbling run, twice faking a shot at the top of the 18-yard box before getting space on the left side of the area and blasting a shot high.
Adu again created a dangerous chance for the U.S. in the 35th minute when he drew a foul just outside the penalty area. The U.S. set up with three players over the ball, and Kljestan touched the ball for Michael Bradley who drilled his low shot into a charging wall.
In the 40th minute, the U.S. forced Vermeer into action for the first time as a great build up out of the back resulted in the best chance of the match to this point for the U.S. Michael Parkhurst started things, playing out of pressure to Bradley who made a great turn. He played it right for Adu who redirected the ball into Marvell Wynne’s path on the overlap. Wynne dribbled up the right wing and crossed in front of the back line to Brian McBride, who put a bouncing pass into the path of Holden who first-timed a laser onto goal that Vermeer punched wide. Robbie Rogers hit the rebound low toward the near post, but that effort was also saved.
The Dutch came out of halftime with a chance on a free kick from deep on their right wing. Real Madrid’s Roy Drenthe curled the free kick to outside of the far post where Hedwiges Maduro got away from Bradley for a free header that went wide into side netting.
The U.S. responded with a scoring chance of their own three minutes later. A foul 40 yards from goal gave the U.S. a free kick that Holden lofted into the area to McBride, who rose to flick a header that Vermeer tipped over his crossbar.
The U.S. leveled the score and took the momentum in the 64th minute on Kljestan’s goal. He started the play with space on the right side at midfield. He brought the ball inside playing a quick one-two with Holden and then a one-two with Adu, getting the ball back just outside of the area. Kljestan cut with the ball into the middle, kept possession after a challenge from a defender, and blasted a right-footed shot into the back of the net as Vermeer got a touch on the ball.
The second U.S. goal was opportunistic, coming during a scramble in front of the Dutch goal in the 72nd minute. The ball bounced out to Bradley, who got a touch playing it forward with his back to goal. Two Netherlands defenders were unable to clear, and the ball fell wide left to Michael Orzoco. Orozco took a settling touch and drove a low cross that deflected slightly off Calvin Jong-a-Pin as Altidore crashed and put it in the center of the net off his leg.
The U.S. advantage led the Netherlands to go right to the bench, bringing in forwards Roy Makaay and Sibon in the 75th minute.
The U.S. was successful fending off the Dutch attack for much of the remainder of the match, with Guzan keeping command of his area and the U.S. back line winning most of the air battles.
The U.S. had a chance to put the game away in the 89th minute, with Holden still having enough gas in the tank for a half-field run which resulted in a shot wide. Kljestan made the run along with Holden and was open in front of goal, but Holden couldn’t find him.
The Netherlands, one of the tournament favorites after winning the UEFA Under-21 Championship, earned one final opportunity after Holden fouled Sibon just outside of the penalty area, earning a yellow card. Sibon stepped up and drove the free kick under the U.S. wall that jumped in unison and past Guzan to stun the U.S.
In the other Group B match, Nigeria topped Japan 2-1. Going into the final day, the U.S. is on top of the group on a tiebreaker with four points. Nigeria also has four points, while the Netherlands is in third place with two points, and Japan is last with no points.
U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Netherlands
Competition: 2008 Olympics
Venue: Tiajin Olympic Center Stadium; Tianjin, China
Date: August 10, 2008; Kickoff – 7:45 p.m. local / 7:45 a.m. ET
Weather: 82 degrees, humid
1 2 F
USA 0 2 2
NED 1 1 2
NED – Ryan Babel 16th minute.
USA - Sacha Kljestan (Freddy Adu) 64.
USA - Jozy Altidore (Michael Orozco) 72.
NED - Gerald Sibon 93+.
USA: 18-Brad Guzan; 2-Marvell Wynne, 6-Maurice Edu, 15-Michael Parkhurst, 3-Michael Orozco; 7-Stuart Holden, 4-Michael Bradley, 16-Sacha Kljestan, 14-Robbie Rogers (12-Jozy Altidore, 65); 11-Freddy Adu (Benny Feilhaber, 80), 17-Brian McBride – Capt.
Subs Not Used: 1-Chris Seitz, 5-Dax McCarty, 8-Danny Szetela, 9-Charlie Davies,13-Patrick Ianni
Head Coach: Peter Nowak
NED: 18-Kenneth Vermeer, 2-Gianni Zuiverloon, 3-Dirk Marcellis (Roy Makaay, 75), 4-Kew Jaliens, 7-Jonathan de Guzman, 8-Urby Emanuelson, 12-Hedwiges Maduro, 15-Royston Drenthe (Gerald Sibon, 75), 17-Otman Bakkal, 11-Ryan Babel, 16-Roy Beerens (Calvin Jong-a-Pin, 69)
Subs Not Used: 1-Piet Velthuizen, 5-Erik Pieters, 6-Kees Luijckx, 14-Evander Sno
Head Coach: Foppe De Haan
Statistical Summary: USA / NED
Shots: 12 / 9
Shots on Goal: 8 / 4
Saves: 2 / 6
Corner Kicks: 2 / 2
Fouls: 11 / 14
Offside: 2 / 2
USA – Maurice Edu (caution) 54th minute.
NED - Marcellis Dirk (caution) 60.
USA - Freddy Adu (caution) 78.
USA - Michael Bradley (caution) 91+.
USA - Stuart Holden (caution) 93+.
Referee: Michael Hester (NZL)
Assistant Referee: Tevita Makasini (TGA)
Assistant Referee: Michael Joseph (VAN)
Fourth Official: Khalil Al Ghamdi (KSA)
Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Sacha Kljestan
2008 Olympic Men’s Soccer Tournament Standings
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
ARG 2 0 0 6 3 1 +2
CIV 1 1 0 3 5 4 +1
AUS 0 1 1 1 1 2 -1
SRB 0 1 1 1 1 2 -1
Australia 1, Serbia 1
Ivory Coast 1, Argentina 2
Argentina 1, Australia 0
Serbia 2, Ivory Coast 4
Ivory Coast vs. Australia, 7:45 a.m. ET
Argentina vs. Serbia, 7:45 a.m. ET
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
USA 1 0 1 4 3 2 +1
NGA 1 0 1 4 2 1 +1
NED 0 0 2 2 2 2 0
JPN 0 2 0 0 1 3 -2
Japan 0, USA 1
Netherlands 0, Nigeria 0
Nigeria 2, Japan 1
USA 2, Netherlands 2
Netherlands vs. Japan, 5 a.m. ET
Nigeria vs. USA, 5 a.m. ET
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
BRA 2 0 0 6 6 0 +6
BEL 1 1 0 3 2 1 +1
CHN 0 1 1 1 1 3 -2
NZL 0 1 1 1 1 6 -5
Brazil 1, Belgium 0
China 1, New Zealand 1
New Zeland 0, Brazil 5
Belgium 2, China 0
China vs. Brazil, 7:45 a.m. ET
New Zealand vs. Belgium 7:45 a.m. ET
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
ITA 2 0 0 6 6 0 +6
CMR 1 0 1 4 2 1 +1
KOR 0 1 1 1 1 4 -3
HON 0 2 0 0 0 4 -4
Honduras 0, Italy 3
South Korea 1, Cameroon 1
Cameroon 1, Honduras 0
Italy 3, South Korea 0
South Korea vs. Honduras, 7:45 a.m. ET
Cameroon vs. Italy, 7:45 a.m. ET