The United States salvaged a 2-2 draw against Russia at Kuban Stadium on Wednesday, courtesy of substitute Mikkel Diskerud’s equalizer deep into injury time.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s side had trailed for the majority of the friendly international in Krasnodar after Fedor Smolov had given Russia the lead in the ninth minute. But while Russia looked the better side for much of the encounter, the U.S. drew level through Michael Bradley before Roman Shirokov restored the home side’s lead from the penalty spot in the 84th minute. The resolve of the visitors was shown once more, though, as Diskerud gave the side something to celebrate in their last fixture of 2012.
It has been a mixed year for the U.S. under Klinsmann as they recorded impressive victories in friendlies on the road against Italy and Mexico, but struggled to progress through to the final stage of World Cup qualifying. Ultimately, a draw in Russia will go down as another impressive friendly result ahead of the start of the Hexagonal next February.
Things did not look good for the U.S., though, as a calamitous error led to Russia’s early opener. Midfielder Danny Williams gave the ball away carelessly in his own half straight from a free kick and Smolov was quickly played in down the right of the area before finishing low past Tim Howard at his near post.
The U.S. were then grateful for several good saves from Howard to keep the score at 1-0, before Bradley popped up with a stunning leveler with 14 minutes left on the clock.
Jermaine Jones chipped to the ball to the edge of the box where substitute Juan Agudelo nodded it back for Bradley to arrive and hit a first time volley in off the post.
It looked like the Roma midfielder’s fine strike would count for nothing when Russia regained the advantage with six minutes left.
The U.S. were left cold from a chipped free-kick into the box and, with Howard staying on his line, Clarence Goodson bundled down Artem Dzyuba. The referee showed little hesitation in pointing to the spot and Shirokov stepped up and expertly sent Howard the wrong way.
There was just enough time for one final twist, as in a similar mold to their first goal, the U.S. prospered from a knock down and this time Diskerud was on hand with the shot from just outside the box that took a wicked deflection to beat Russia goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov.
Here are the highlights from USA-Russia:
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.