LYON, France (June 9, 2018)—A 44th-minute goal from Julian Green boosted the U.S. Men’s National Team to a 1-1 draw against world No. 7 France 1-1 on Saturday night in Lyon. The USA took the field with a starting lineup that averaged just 22 years old, but held strong in difficult conditions to earn a result against one of the world’s top teams. The goal and the result mark firsts for the United States in its all-time series vs. France, which now stands at 0-3-1.
Heading into a summer break, the MNT has compiled a 2-1-3 record since last October, including a 1-1 draw on the road against then third-ranked Portugal. Tonight’s starting XI included seven players who have made their MNT senior team debut in that span, while a total of 17 players earned their first caps in that time frame, making the result all the more impressive when considering that France's team had seven starters who had won a Champions League title, domestic league title, Cup title, or combination thereof this season in England, France, Spain or Italy.
While France dominated possession for most of the first half, the USA threatened on runs up the wings by outside backs Antonee Robinson and Shaq Moore. Just before the end of the opening frame, Bobby Wood dished to Moore on the right side. He took a touch and sped past his marker before launching a through ball into the box. French defender Djibril Sidibe got to it first, but Julian Green pounced on his lose touch and first-timed a shot between Sidibe’s legs and past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris inside the near post for his first goal since Oct. 11, 2016 against New Zealand.
Budweiser Man of the Match Zack Steffen made yet another star turn, making seven saves to thwart the vaunted French front line, and a physical defense helped the USA keep a lid on France’s attack. Robinson was a standout on the left side, while center backs Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tim Parker and Matt Miazga made numerous key tackles to halt French scoring opportunities.
The stout defensive effort kept Les Bleus scoreless well into the second half. Miazga had anchored the center of the five-man back line in the opening 45, but a nasty head to head challenge with Olivier Giroud on an early second-half corner forced Erik Palmer-Brown into replacement duty for the Vitesse man. The former U-20 MNT captain performed admirably in Miazga’s stead as the USA hung tough.
Les Bleus finally broke through in the 78th minute. After a series of close calls in the box, France intercepted a USA clearance. Some patient passing broke Nabil Fekir free on a run towards the corner of the box. He dished to Benjamin Pavard on the right wing, who slotted a cross to Mbappé in front of the net. The Paris Saint-Germain forward one-touched it to the far post for the equalizer.
Buoyed by the home crowd, France pressed for a game-winner until the final whistle, but the young Americans, bolstered by veteran subs DeAndre Yedlin and Jorge Villafaña, battened down the hatches and got a phenomenal double save from Steffen on the last kicks of the ball to secure the quality result.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Julian Green, 44th minute
After some patient build-up, Shaq Moore passed inside to Bobby Wood. Wood beat a defender one-on-one, but when another came to pressure, he slipped it back out to Moore on the wing. The right back took a touch, wheeled down the sideline and sent a cross into the box. Djibril Sidibe was there to meet it, but his touch got away, and Green jumped on the opportunity. The 23-year-old one-timed a bouncing ball between Sidibe’s legs and past a diving Lloris to give the USA the lead. USA 1, FRA 0
FRA – Kylian Mbappé, 78th minute
After a frenetic series of French chances inside the USA box, Antonee Robinson cleared the ball to midfield. France’s center backs took control, and an offensive interchange sprung Nabil Fekir free on a run towards the net. He sent a ball to Benjamin Pavard on the wing, who slotted a cross through the box to Mbappé . The PSG striker made no mistake, slotting to the far post. USA 1, FRA 1 FINAL
Key Defensive Plays:
USA – Cameron Carter-Vickers, 8th minute
A hard tackle from Cameron Carter-Vickers prevented a surefire early goal for Les Bleus. After an offensive interchange at the top left corner of the box, the ball ended up outside at the feet of Paul Pogba. Olivier Giroud made a cutting run to the net, and the well-played pass would’ve met him charging towards goal if not for a well-timed interception by Carter-Vickers.
USA – Tim Parker, 26th minute
After a long French build-up out of the back, Pogba made a dangerous attacking run through the middle of the field. He dished it to Kylian Mbappé at the top of the box, who found a nearby Antoine Griezmann. Griezmann quickly cut it back to Mbappé and the young forward launched a rocket toward the goal. Tim Parker got a touch to the shot to deflect it just over the crossbar.
USA – Zack Steffen, 33rd minute
On a run to the end line, Mbappé sent a cross all the way across the field to Benjamin Mendy. Mendy worked it towards the middle via Blaise Matuidi, who found Pogba at the top of the box. Pogba shook his mark before launching a hard-hit shot on goal. Despite the crowd in the box, Steffen was able to step forward and make the save.
USA – Cameron Carter-Vickers, 61st minute
Corentin Tolisso found Mbappé on the edge of the American final third, and the young forward was off to the races. He dribbled past two defenders as he went from one corner of the box to the other, but Carter-Vickers recovered. As Mbappé riffled a shot, Carter-Vickers made a magnificent slide to deflect the ball and keep France scoreless.
USA – Zack Steffen, 90 + 3’
After a dangerous spell of possession in the box, Fekir made a last gasp effort from nearly 40 yards out. He ripped a ball towards the net, but Steffen made a diving save to deflect it. Ousmane Dembele pounced on the rebound, and Steffen scrambled to his feet to push the ball wide to deny a sure goal on the last kick of the ball.
- Forward Julian Green earned his first start since scoring the lone goal in the MNT’s 1-1 draw on Oct. 11, 2016 vs. New Zealand.
- U.S. MNT Starting XI Cap Numbers (including this match): Bobby Wood (39), Julian Green (10), Matt Miazga (7), Tyler Adams (6), Wil Trapp (5), Cameron Carter-Vickers (5), Weston McKennie (4), Zack Steffen (3), Shaq Moore (2), Tim Parker (2), Antonee Robinson (2)
- The MNT Starting XI’s total average cap number (including this match): 7.6 caps
- Tonight’s Starting XI had an average age of 22 years, 183 days. It is the second-youngest MNT starting lineup in the modern era (1990-present), coming in behind the team that began the 3-0 win against Bolivia on May 28 in Philadelphia (22 years, 160 days).
- U.S. head coach Dave Sarachan made five changes to the Starting XI that faced Ireland a week ago, inserting Zack Steffen in goal, fielding Shaq Moore, Tim Parker and Antonee Robinson on the back line and partnering Julian Green up top with Bobby Wood.
- All 11 players were 25 or younger, while six starters were 23 and under: Green, Steffen (23); Miazga (22); Moore (21), Carter-Vickers, Robinson (20); Adams, McKennie (19)
- As was the case in last week’s match against Ireland, the MNT wore rainbow numbers as part of U.S. Soccer’s celebration of Pride Month. The WNT is doing the same for its two-game set against China PR this month.
- Making his sixth MNT appearance, Wil Trapp captained the side for the fourth time tonight. Trapp wore the armband in the USA’s 0-0 draw with Bosnia and Herzegovina (January 28), 1-0 win against Paraguay (March 27) and 2-1 defeat to Ireland (June 2).
- Six players represented the USA at a Youth World Cup: Adams (2015 U-17, 2017 U-20), Carter-Vickers (2015, 2017 U-20), Miazga (2015 U-20), Moore (2015 U-20), Steffen (2013, 2015 U-20), Trapp (2013 U-20)
- Six of the starting XI are products of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy: Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Weston McKennie (FC Dallas), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Shaq Moore (IMG Academy/FC Dallas), Zack Steffen (FC DELCO), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)
- Having earned their first caps off the bench last week against Ireland, defenders Shaq Moore and Tim Parker got their first international starts tonight against France.