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USA see out 2009 on a disappointing note

THE UNITED States of America signed off a successful 2009 with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Denmark on Wednesday night.

The US qualified for next year’s World Cup, reached the final of 2009’s FIFA Confederations Cup and finished 2009 as the top team in CONCACAF World Cup qualification. But they failed to conclude the year on a positive note, after seeing Jeff Cunningham’s first half strike cancelled out by three quick-fire goals after the half-time break.

“Two-thousand and nine was still an excellent year,” insisted US coach, Bob Bradley.

Bob Bradley

Plenty to ponder for Bob Bradley as he watches his side lose

“The main job was to secure qualification for South Africa next June. “Denmark picked up the pressure early in the second half and the six minute stretch really teaches us some lessons in terms of our reactions and our ability when a team really comes after us. “That’s something we can really look at closely and try to use down the road.”

The US signed off a successful year with a 3-1 defeat to Denmark at NRGi Park.

Bradley was again missing first-team regulars Tim Howard, Landon Donovan and Oguchi Onyewu for his team’s second game in five days, and again elected to display his side’s strength in depth. Veteran defender Frankie Hejduk started at right back, and Cunningham made his first start in four years.

This was the USA’s first ever visit to the Scandinavian country, and the unfamiliarity showed during the game’s opening exchanges as the hosts began to dominate. Jesper Grønkjær, the former Chelsea man, showed Hejduk a clean pair of heels inside five minutes, but could only fire over Guzan’s crossbar from eight yards out.

Brad Guzan
Brad Guzan – able deputy for Howard

It was the Aston Villa goalkeeper’s opposite number, Thomas Sørensen, who made the game’s first save on six minutes, however, when he was forced to dive to his left and smartly push away a shot from Benny Feilhaber.

It was an error from ex-Villain and current Stoke City goalkeeper Sørensen, however, which gifted the US their opening goal of the game. Under no pressure, Sørensen tried to pass the ball to his left-back – but only succeeded in finding Cunningham, winner of the MLS Golden Boot award. The striker made the most of the gift, unleashing a left footed shot that left the goalkeeper stranded.

Cunningham’s strike was his first for the national team, and made him the 21st different player to score in 2009 – a record for the US men’s national team. The visitor’s joy didn’t last much longer past half-time, however, with Denmark pulling level just two minutes after the restart.

Denmark coach Morten Olsen sent on Johan Absalonsen, William Kvist Jørgensen and Søren Rieks at the break, and it was Absalonsen who pulled his country level. He brought down a high cross excellently, held off the challenge of Jonathan Spector and fired past Guzan into the back of the net.

Absalonsen’s fellow substitutes, Rieks and Martin Bernburg – who came on after 35 minutes – also capitalised on slack marking to score, completing a deadly nine-minute spell which destroyed America’s hopes of victory.

USA: Guzan, Hejduk, Spector (Conrad), Bocanegra (Goodson), Bornstein, Holden (Rogers), Clark, Bradley (Castillo), Feilhaber, Altidore (McCarty), Cunningham (Johnson).

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