Video Highlights: U.S. V. Russia

Usual defensive frailties. Spectacular Michael Bradley strike. Lucky draw.

From the Associated Press: Mix Diskerud gave the U.S. soccer a team a thrilling end to 2012.

Playing just his third game for the Americans, the 22-year-old midfielder scored his first international goal on a 20-yard shot deep into four minutes of injury time, giving the United States a 2-2 tie against Russia on Wednesday in an exhibition game at Krasnodar.
Michael Bradley, who scored in the 76th minute, sent a long ball into the penalty area toward Terrence Boyd. Defender Sergei Ignashevich tied to clear the ball but his header went on one hop to Diskerud. His right-footed shot took a bounce and spin in off the left hand of goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov.

“It was a long ball and I was hoping with all my heart that it would come back to me and it did,” Diskerud said. “I got a nice strike.”

Diskerud, whose mother is from Arizona and whose father is from Norway, was a member of the American under-23 team that failed to qualify for the London Olympics.

“We can compete with very good teams in the world,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “The way our team fought back twice after being down a goal was great. It showed a lot of personality. It showed a lot of character. This is a young team, and a team that is growing.”

Fedor Smolov, making his Russian national team debut, gave the hosts the lead in the ninth minute following a giveaway by Danny Williams, who mis-hit the ball badly trying for a quick free kick in his own half.

Bradley tied it on a stunning 19-yard volley, his 11th international goal. Maurice Edu passed to Juan Agudelo in the penalty area, and Agudelo headed the ball back to an open Bradley for a right-footed shot that clanked in off the post to Gabulov’s right.

“I caught it perfect,” Bradley said.

Roman Shirokov put Russia back ahead 2-1 when he converted a penalty kick in the 84th minute after a foul by Clarence Goodson, who pushed over Artem Dzyuba in front of goalkeeper Tim Howard following a free kick.

“I think we came in at halftime frustrated with ourselves,” Bradley said. “We were too casual from the start and good teams make you pay. Maybe we were a little lucky after the first 15 minutes that it was only 1-0.”

The 27th-ranked United States, missing regulars Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Steve Cherundolo, are preparing for the final round of qualifying next year for the 2014 World Cup. They finished the year at 9-2-3 with a .750 winning percentage that tied
their best in the modern era, set in 2005. The U.S. had two big firsts, beating Italy and winning at Mexico City, and its only defeats came in an exhibition against Brazil and a World Cup qualifier at Jamaica.

“We only had two losses, a bunch of wins, some really tough-fought draws and we topped the group,” Howard said of the Americans’ finish in the semifinals of World Cup qualifying. “It was a really fantastic year. It’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s a really good, positive year for this group.”

The ninth-ranked Russians are 4-0-2 since former England coach Fabio Capello took over last summer.

Howard had six saves, including two nifty stops in succession in the 66th when he batted away an open shot by Renat Yanbaev and then parried Vasily Berezutskiy’s shot over the crossbar.

Jozy Altidore started at forward for the U.S. after he was dropped from the roster for last month’s qualifiers following poor performances against Jamaica in September.

“Jozy Altidore today was a handful,” Klinsmann said. “He gets a big, big compliment for his performance.”

Timmy Chandler started at right back. He had not played for the Americans since last November, uncertain whether he wanted to commit to the U.S. program, and would not be tied to the program until he plays in a competitive match such a qualifier.

“I think the team has grown a lot in a lot of ways,” Altidore said. “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but I think we’re finding our identity again and that’s important going into the nature of the final qualifying round. It’s going to be tough, but we’ve grown a lot.”

NOTES: U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra left in the 18th minute with a strained left hamstring. He was replaced by Clarence Goodson, who paired with Geoff Cameron in central defense. Bocanegra’s 110th career game moved him into a sixth-place tie on the
U.S. list with Paul Caligiuri, who had 110 appearances from 1984-98. … The starting lineup marked the first time since June 19, 2011, the U.S. team had no starters from MLS clubs. The previous game was a 2-0 victory over Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold
Cup. … Josh Gatt, a speedy 21-year-old midfielder, started in his national team debut and was replaced by Agudelo in the 63rd minute.

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  • Wow… what a quality shot by Micheal Bradley. I remember noticing during the last world cup was that shots like that were the most obvious thing that separated the good soccer teams from the great. No settling touch… just kick out of the air right at net. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Landon Donovan connect like that.

    It seems like we are starting to get some quality players on the back line but they just aren’t playing together very well. Maybe we need to start getting a more consistent lineup in the back.