The Unites States Men’s National Team stumbled to a 1-1 draw against New Zealand at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., Tuesday night.
Julian Green gave the hosts the lead in the 27th minute when he collected a header from Jozy Altidore and squeezed a shot between the near post and New Zealand goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic. The goal was Green’s third in eight caps for his country.
New Zealand scored the equalizer in the 73rd minute when Deklan Wynne shepherded a corner kick to Monty Patterson who stabbed it in the net at the near post through traffic. The Kiwis nearly took the lead in the 87th minute when Patterson beat USA ‘keeper David Bingham for a header only for Michael Orozco to make a near-goal-line clearance.
In the last match before the USMNT starts the Hex next month against Mexico, here are five things we learned:
1. The result should not be worrisome.
Despite tying a team ranked in the 80s worldwide, Jurgen Klinsmann experimented with his squad and gave chances for fringe players to make an impression. That was the goal heading into the two friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand, and a 1-1 draw against a determined New Zealand side is no reason to panic. Mexico may have more momentum heading into the Hex after defeating New Zealand, 2-1, and Panama, 1-0, but the USA should feel better when they have their “A” team available.
2. Sacha Kljestan earned a Hex call up.
The New York Red Bulls midfielder had previously fallen out of favor with Klinsmann and did not appear for the USMNT from March 2014 until September 2016. He was called up last month for two first round World Cup Qualifying matches against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago and scored against the Vincentians. He was superb in the two matches against Cuba and New Zealand, and especially so at RFK Stadium when the pitch was not in shambles. His ability to keep possession calmly and to create chances has translated from his strong season in MLS to the USMNT. He should be included in the Hex squad for the first two matches, and might sneak his way into the starting lineup. If not, he remains a valuable asset off the bench.
3. The third goalkeeper spot remains up for grabs.
Neither William Yarbrough nor David Bingham made a case for themselves to be the third ‘keeper behind the locks for the squad that are Tim Howard and Brad Guzan. Both played one half each and neither were particularly impressive, with Bingham getting beat at the near post on New Zealand’s goal and later almost conceding the winner after arriving late to a header. With Ethan Horvath’s performance against Cuba, he will likely be the third ‘keeper for the first two matches of the Hex, but he won’t hold that spot long-term on the basis of one performance. Ideally, one of the trio will emerge as the stopper of the future, with Yarbrough the most likely after leading Liga MX with saves and clean sheets last season.
4. Julian Green proved his value, but remains a question mark for initial call-ups.
Green scored again, albeit on a frozen goalkeeper, after scoring against Cuba, and two goals in two would normally be enough to warrant a call-up. He will appear in the Hex at some point and Klinsmann clearly values the Bayern Munich youngster, who was subbed into the 2014 World Cup match against Belgium. The problem is that the forward position is loaded with options like Jozy Altidore, Jordan Morris, Bobby Wood, and Chris Wondolowski. Maybe Green could sneak in over Wondo, but the Earthquakes striker chipped in a goal and assisted Green’s against Cuba.
5. USA needs more Lynden Gooch
The 20-year-old Sunderland midfielder earned his first international appearance when he came on as a substitute in the second half and provided an immediate spark to the American offense. Gooch set up Michael Bradley for a dangerous shot in stoppage time that could have been the winner and was a creative presence for his entire debut. He has survived his baptism by fire in the Premier League so far, and it is a testament to his ability that a manager of David Moyes’s stature selected him for the first team at such a young age. It might be hard to fit him into the 23-man Hex squad, but Gooch represents another piece in the next generation of American talent along with starlets Christian Pulisic, Julian Green, and Jordan Morris.
The USA takes on Mexico in Columbus, Ohio, in the first matchup of the second round of World Cup Qualifying on Veterans Day, Nov. 11., before traveling to Costa Rica on Nov. 19.