CARSON, Calif. (January 20, 2007) — The U.S. Men’s National Team returned to the field in style under new head coach Bob Bradley on Saturday with an efficient 3-1 victory against Denmark at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The exciting match played in front of 10,048 fans on a cool winter day in Southern California featured just about everything, including four players earning their first cap, five more earning their second cap, a come-from-behind win, a penalty kick from longtime stalwart Landon Donovan and second-half strikes from U.S. debutant Jonathan Bornstein and Kenny Cooper.
With Bradley on the bench leading the USA for the first time, the game began tentatively and saw Denmark strike first in the 37th minute. The opening goal came on an excellent header from forward Dennis Sorensen, who beat defender Jimmy Conrad to the ball just six yards from goal and hammered a shot off the underside of the crossbar. The goal was created by Simon Busk Poulsen, who found himself on the edge of the U.S. penalty area with nary a defender in sight and plenty of time to tee up his perfect cross for Sorensen.
The lead for Denmark was short-lived, though, with the U.S. tying the game almost immediately through a 44th minute penalty kick from Donovan on a shot that rifled through the hands of Danish goalkeeper Jesper Christiansen. The goal for Donovan was the 26th of his international career, and ended his longest-ever goalless drought for the United States at 18 games (a streak that dated all the way back to a 2-0 win vs. Canada on July 9, 2005). Donovan’s penalty kick was set up when Ricardo Clark was pulled down from behind by Anders Moller Christensen as he was trying to slalom into the area with the ball.
“It is a good way to start the year,” said Bradley after the game. “We had a number of guys who got their first chance to play for the United States. I thought that all of them responded really well. It has been a good camp. To see the team step on the field with a good mentality and a good amount of energy, and respond well to being down 1-0, I think those were all really good signs.”
With the game tied at one entering the second half, Bradley made a key change that would pay immediate dividends, inserting left-sided midfielder Justin Mapp for forward Nate Jaqua, and moving Chris Rolfe forward. Just 12 minutes later, Mapp provided the winning assist courtesy of one of his patented dribbling runs so often seen in Major League Soccer with the Chicago Fire.
On the goal, Mapp confronted Denmark’s William Kvist Jorgensen and Chris Sorensen on the right edge of the penalty area, and then quickly slipped himself and the ball between them. The 22-year-old midfielder had plenty of time to comfortably slot a pass from the end line in front of the goal for a crashing Bornstein, who easily one-timed his shot home from five yards out.
The U.S. tacked on an impressive third goal in the 80th minute, with 6-foot-3 forward Kenny Cooper streaking with the ball for 30 yards as three Danish players chased him from behind. As he approached the top of the area and the pressure from behind intensified, Cooper easily beat Christiansen with a slow roller into the right side of the goal. The breakaway for Cooper came courtesy of a through ball from Heath Pearce, who plays professionally in Denmark for FC Nordsjælland.
Outside of Donovan’s penalty kick, the points for Bornstein, Mapp, Cooper and Pearce were their first in a U.S. National Team jersey. Bornstein and Cooper also became the 40th and 41st players in the 95-year history of U.S. Soccer to score in their first game with the national team. They are also the ninth and 10th players to accomplish the feat for the U.S. in the modern World Cup era (since 1986) and the fourth and fifth players to do it this decade.
Overall, the U.S. line-up featured five players making just their second international appearance, goalkeeper Matt Reis, defender Bobby Boswell, midfielder Ricardo Clark, Jaqua, and second half substitute Mapp. Of the four players making their international debut (including Cooper, defender Bryan Namoff and midfielder Kyle Beckerman), only Bornstein started.
Added Bradley, “I thought the first half we had moments where the coordination on the field was fine, but the plays weren’t. I thought we fouled up some simple plays and it seemed we just needed to get some confidence in what we were doing. I thought after they scored we did a pretty good job of coming back quickly and that helped, and the second half was much better.”
Following the match with Denmark, the U.S. team will have a few days off and then will get right back to work in advance of the team’s 52nd all-time meeting with Mexico. This edition of USA-Mexico is set for the brand new University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 7 (tickets). The match will be televised live by both ESPN2 and Univision in an expanded two-and-a-half hour window beginning at 7 p.m. MT (9 p.m. ET). Curiously, the USA and Mexico have not met since the United States’ authoritative, World Cup-clinching, 2-0 victory back on Sept. 3, 2005, in Columbus, Ohio. That span of 522 days is the longest the two teams have gone between matches since 1993. (The 2006 calendar year marked the first time the two teams have not met since 1992.)
After games against Ecuador (March 25 in Tampa) and Guatemala (March 28 in Frisco, Texas), the United States will compete in two major championships this summer. The three-time champions will first try to defend their title against 11 other teams at the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, scheduled from June 6-24 in several cities across the United States. Just a few days later, the U.S. will participate in the 2007 Copa America, the regional championship of South America. The 12-team tournament will run from June 26 to July 15 in nine cities across Venezuela. For the United States, the appearance will mark their third entrance into CONMEBOL’s signature event.
-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --
Match-up: USA vs. Denmark
Date: January 20, 2007
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: The Home Depot Center – Carson, California
Kickoff: 2 p.m. PT
Weather: 59 degrees, cool, sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 2 3
Denmark 1 0 1
DEN – Dennis Sorensen (Simon Busk Poulsen) 37th minute
USA – Landon Donovan (penalty kick) 44.
USA – Jonathan Bornstein (Justin Mapp) 57.
USA – Kenny Cooper (Heath Pearce) 80.
USA: 24-Matt Reis; 5- Chris Albright (6-Bryan Namoff, 63), 12-Jimmy Conrad (capt.), 23-Bobby Boswell (4-Dan Califf, 89), 3-Jonathan Bornstein; 25-Pablo Mastroeni (14-Kyle Beckerman, 86), 13-Ricardo Clark, 10-Landon Donovan, 17-Chris Rolfe (19-Heath Pearce, 74); 9-Eddie Johnson (20-Kenny Cooper, 63), 11-Nate Jaqua (21-Justin Mapp, 46)
Subs not used: 1-Joe Cannon
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
DEN: 16-Jesper Christiansen; 6-Michael Gravgaard (capt.), 7-Lars Jacobsen, 10-Anders Moller Christensen, 17-Chris Sorensen (14-Christopher Poulsen, 68); 9-William Kvist Jorgensen, 12-Peter Nymann (19-Christian Keller, 46), 20-Rasmus Wurtz (2-Kristian Bak Nielsen, 81), 21-Niki Zimlig (13-Hjalte Do Norregaard, 58); 5-Simon Busk Poulsen (11-Morten Nordstrand Nielsen, 68), 18-Dennis Sorensen (3-Jesper Bech, 46)
Subs not used: 1-Casper Ankergren, 4-Jonas Borring, 15-Michael Ribers
Head Coach: Morten Olsen
Stats Summary: USA DEN
Shots 13 11
Saves 0 4
Corner Kicks 2 5
Fouls 14 17
Offside 1 5
USA – Chris Albright (caution) 33rd minute
USA – Pablo Mastroeni (caution) 51.
DEN – William Kvist Jorgensen (caution) 54.
USA – Jonathan Bornstein (caution) 71.
USA – Kenny Cooper (caution) 81.
Referee: Mauricio Navarro (CAN)
1st Asst.: Hector Vergara (CAN)
2nd Asst.: Simon Fearn (CAN)
Fourth Official: Baldomero Toledo (USA)
Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Landon Donovan