Halftime substitute Steve Birnbaum made the difference for the USMNT as they opened the 2016 schedule with a friendly win. Birnbaum headed in a Michael Bradley free kick in the 90th minute in the 3-2 USMNT win over Iceland.
The weather was the story at the start of Sunday’s USMNT vs Iceland friendly. Sometimes it rains in southern California, with StubHub Center caught in a downpour. Early on, the conditions seemed to favor the USMNT, taking the bulk of possession before Iceland’s Kristinn Steindorsson opened the scoring in the 12th minute. Steindorsson’s goal took a deflection off of USMNT defender Michael Orozco, putting it out of range of goalkeeper Luis Robles.
The USMNT regrouped, coming close when Lee Nguyen connected with Gyasi Zardes in the 16th. Bradley laced a pass to Jozy Altidore in the box for the equalizer in the 20th minute.
Iceland got a quick start to the second-half, with Aron Sigurdarson scoring in the 48th minute. This time, it was Michael Orozco’s turn at the other end of the field, heading in from short range to equalized in the 59th. Birnbaum scored the winner for the USMNT in the 90th minute.
With the coaches of both teams eager to use their full complement of substitutions, the teams quickly took on different looks in the second-half. Iceland subbed on three new faces at halftime with USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann making one change. Klinsmann made two more by the time he subbed out his starting forwards for Jordan Morris and Jerome Kiesewetter in the 75th minute. That included bringing on Tony Tchani in the 71st. Injury kept Tchani from potentially making his debut for Cameroon in November. Had Tchani been available and played in Cameroon’s World Cup qualifier, it would have cap-tied him to Cameroon. Instead, Tchani is still available for either country with his USMNT friendly appearance not cap tying him to the team.
The USMNT returns to training camp with Canada on the friendly schedule on February 2 (10:15pm ET – Fox Sports 1).
— GAME REPORT —
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Iceland
Date: Jan. 31, 2016
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: StubHub Center
Kickoff: 12:45 p.m. PT
Weather: 61 degrees; mostly cloudy, intermittent rain
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 2 3
ISL 1 1 2
ISL – Kristinn Steindorsson 13th minute
USA – Jozy Altidore (Michael Bradley) 20
ISL – Aron Sigurdarson 48
USA – Michael Orozco (Steve Birnbaum) 59
USA – Steve Birnbaum (Michael Bradley) 90
USA: 12-Luis Robles; 3-Brad Evans (15-Steve Birnbaum, 46), 19-Michael Orozco, 5-Matt Besler, 14-Kellyn Acosta; 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 13-Jermaine Jones (25-Tony Tchani, 71), 7-Ethan Finlay (6-Darlington Nagbe, 61), 16-Lee Nguyen; 9-Gyasi Zardes (18-Jerome Kiesewetter, 75), 17-Jozy Altidore (8-Jordan Morris, 75)
Subs Not Used: 22-David Bingham, 2-Eric Miller, 10-Mix Diskerud, 20-Wil Trapp, 23-Perry Kitchen
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
ISL: 1-Ogmundur Kristinsson; 2-Birkir Mar Saevarsson, 3-Hallgrimur Jonasson (4-Hjortur Hermannsson, 46), 5-Jon Gudni Fjoluson, 23-Ari Freyr Skulason (18-Aevar Ingi Johannesson, 84); 7-Aron Sigurdarson, 6-Gudmundur Thorarinsson (14-Diego Johannesson, 46), 8-Runar Mar Sigurjonsson, 17-Kristinn Steindorsson (15-Aron Elis Thrandarson, 46); 10-Arnor Smarason, 22-Eidur Smari Gudjohnsen (capt.) (11-Kjartan Henry Finnbogason, 71)
Subs Not Used: 12-Gunnleifur Gunnleifsson, 9-Gardar Gunnlaugsson
Head coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson and Lars Lagerback
Stats Summary: USA / ISL
Shots: 16 / 6
Shots on Goal: 5 / 3
Saves: 1 / 1
Corner Kicks: 8 / 2
Fouls: 7 / 8
Offside: 3 / 2
ISL – Jon Gudni Fjoluson (caution) 45th minute
USA – Darlington Nagbe (caution) 72
Referee: Jeffrey Solis (CRC)
Assistant Referee 1: Warner Castro (CRC)
Assistant Referee 2: Carlos Fernandez (CRC)
4th Official: Ricardo Montero (CRC)