March 3, 2010
By Michael Lewis
U.S. Men fall to the Netherlands, 2-1
AMSTERDAM -- For 87 minutes Wednesday, the United States had little reason to believe it had a chance to do anything offensively, let alone put a decent shot on goal against the Netherlands.
|Carlos Bocanegra scored the U.S.A.ís first-ever goal against Holland, and moved into a tie for 12th place on the all-time scoring list.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
But the Americans staged a furious 11th-hour rally that made for an intriguing finish, falling short in a 2-1 loss at the Amsterdam ArenA.
The U.S., which dropped 0-4 against the third-ranked Dutch, scored for the first time ever against them as defender Carlos Bocanegra headed in Damarcus Beasley's free kick from point-blank range in the 88th minute.
The Americans, however, couldn't convert on several opportunities in added time in the last game before coach Bob Bradley picks his World Cup team in May.
"The guys are a bit frustrated," Bocanegra said. "They're angry we didn't get out of here with at least a draw."
With the U.S. pushing up, Beasley was fouled on the play. He then sent a 35-yard free kick toward the net that team captain and central defender Carlos Bocanegra headed home from point-blank range in the 88th minute.
"They were all standing and they looked kind of confused," Beasley said. "So I tried to take it as quick as I could and luckily he was not offside. Carlos is a very good header of the ball whether it is defending or attacking. So it was good he had a head on it."
Bocanegra said it was a perfect ball.
"It was a fantastic ball by Beas," he said. "He kind of handcuffed the goalie. Between the defense and him I was able to find the space."
That goal fired up the Americans even more as they desperately tried to equalize. In the 90th minute, Alejandro Bedoya drew a free kick barely outside the penalty area. Beasley's ensuing free kick was caught by goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg. A minute into stoppage team, defender Clarence Goodson could not get a six-yard volley on target. And then in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Jozy Altidore fired a 22-yard attempt that Stekelenburg dived to his right to save.
"We were pushing them. We're a fit team. Maybe they took a little, their foot off the gas a little bit, whatever," Bocanegra said. "We [can] say, 'Hey look at this. We start doing this a bit earlier and press them a bit more and get after them, don't try to sit back and absorb the pressure for 90 minutes, then things can happen.' "
The Americans dug a deep hole for themselves.
The Dutch held the ball for long periods of time as the Americans managed to thwart many dangerous shots.
The typical scenario: the Dutch would hold the ball for long periods of time, work it down the field and then try a move near or around the penalty area and perhaps a shot. The U.S. somehow would get possession, make two, maybe three passes before losing the ball.
"We had some moments in the first half that were okay but I donít think we put enough pressure on them," Landon Donovan said. "It took us too long in the second half before we made some real plays."
Left fullback Jonathan Bornstein had a long night, giving up a penalty kick for the first goal and having the second one deflect off of him into the U.S. net.
The Dutch finally struck pay dirt as Bornstein fouled Wesley Sneijder in the penalty area in the 40th minute. Dirk Kuyt powered his penalty kick to the lower left corner while goalkeeper Tim Howard dived the other way.
"We lost our concentration and it was a very bad time to give up a penalty,Ē U.S. coach Bob Bradley said.
The Netherlands tacked on another goal in the 73rd minute as second-half Huntelaar knocked in a 22-yard shot off Bornstein, one bounce into the lower left corner.
Midfielder Stuart Holden was sidelined with a right shin contusion in the 34th minute after he was kicked by Nigel de Jong. He was taken to a hospital for X-rays.