US beats 2nd-string Germany 4-3 in exhibition
The United States can head into a key stretch with some added confidence.
Clint Dempsey scored twice in a five-minute span of the second half and moved into second place on the U.S. career scoring list, helping the Americans edge a second-string Germany team 4-3 in an exhibition game Sunday.
Preparing for three World Cup qualifiers in a 12-day span beginning Friday, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann watched the Americans take a 4-1 lead and hang on to beat the team he helped win the 1990 World Cup as a player and coached to the 2006 semifinals.
The match, which drew 47,359 to RFK Stadium commemorated the 100th anniversary year of the U.S. Soccer Federation and followed a 4-2 loss Wednesday to a first-string Belgium in Cleveland.
''The feel-good factor is amazing,'' U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said. ''The crowd was great, on the centennial anniversary. It was amazing to be a part of that game, and obviously to beat Germany was special.''
Jozy Altidore put the Americans ahead in the 13th minute with his first international goal in 1 1-2 years, and the lead widened to 2-0 lead three minutes later on an own goal by No. 4 Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who misjudged a backpass.
Heiko Westermann cut the deficit for the three-time world champion Germans in the 51st, and Dempsey made it 4-1 with goals in the 60th and 65th. Americans' defensive frailties were exposed late when Max Kruse and Julian Draxler scored their first international goals.
With 35 international goals, Dempsey moved one past Eric Wynalda on the American career list and pulled within 14 of Landon Donovan.
''You're going to look back on the career and be proud of what you've done,'' Dempsey said. ''But at the same time ... your teammates help you. They put you in positions, and they help create chances for you, and you've just got to finish them off.''
Dempsey has five goals for the U.S. this year and 13 since Klinsmann took over as coach in July 2011.
''He has the drive. He has the hunger,'' Klinsmann said. ''He's not satisfied today scoring two goals against Germany because he won't be satisfied if he doesn't score against Jamaica.''
The Americans play Friday at Jamaica, June 11 against Panama at Seattle, and June 18 versus Honduras at Sandy, Utah. The U.S. (1-1-1) is third in the six-nation final round of North and Central America and the Caribbean with four points, one behind Panama (1-0-2) and trailing Costa Rica (1-1-1) on goal difference. Honduras (1-1-1) is behind the U.S. on goal difference, while Mexico (0-0-3) has three points and Jamaica (0-1-2) two.
The top three nations qualify for next year's tournament in Brazil, and the No. 4 team faces Oceania champion New Zealand in a home-and-home playoff for another berth.
''Now the road gets long,'' Howard said. ''Morale, motivation, feel-good factor, that's going to play a huge role, and I don't think it can be understated. Because going down to Jamaica is not going to be easy.''
While the U.S. improved to 3-6 against Germany by beating Die Mannschaft for the first time since 1999, the Germans used just one player who started in their last World Cup qualifier, against Kazakhstan in March. Germany was missing its contingent from Champions League finalists Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, and from Real Madrid, which finished its season Saturday.
Klinsmann made four changes to his starting lineup, inserting right back Brad Evans, central defender Matt Besler and midfielders Michael Bradley and Fabian Johnson. Right back Geoff Cameron was dropped along with central defender Clarence Goodson, and midfielders Sacha Kljestan and Brad Davis.
Johnson, a German-American starting in midfield instead of at left back, was limping and was replaced by Davis for the second when the second half began.
Dempsey's run led to the first goal, when he made a crossfield pass to Graham Zusi, who one-timed a cross to Altidore. He moved away from defender Per Mertesacker and sent in a right-footed volley from 8 yards.
The 23-year-old Altidore, who set a record for Americans in Europe by scoring 31 goals this season for the Netherlands' AZ Alkmaar, got his 14th international goal and first from the run of play since June 14, 2011, against Guadeloupe. His only goal since Klinsmann took over had been a penalty kick at Slovenia on Nov. 15, 2011.
''This is a maturing process, and it will continue,'' Klinsmann said. ''He's still young - we often forget how young Jozy actually is because he's been around so long already.'''
With the Americans pressuring high following a goal kick, Benedikt Hoewedes played a backpass to ter Stegen, who allowed the ball to roll off his right foot and into the net.
Westermann scored his fourth international goal when he peeled off Omar Gonzalez for an open 7-yard header on Kruse's corner kick. Dempsey restored the two-goal lead after Jermaine Jones played a long ball to Altidore, who collected it and sent a one-hop pass across the field. Dempsey connected with a right-footed shot from about 10 yards.
Five minutes later, Dempsey took advantage of Lukas Podolski's failure to close down his space and scored on a bending, 24-yard left-footed shot.
Unpressured by Gonzalez and Besler, Kruse beat Howard from 20 yards. Draxler scored after Howard sprawled to his right and parried Sidney Sam's long-range shot into his path.
''Toward the end we kind of hit a wall,'' Gonzalez said. ''We stopped possessing the ball, and that's when Germany just came at us.''
NOTES: The U.S. will play Guatemala in an exhibition at San Diego on July 5 ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. ... Roberto Moreno of Panama will referee Friday's World Cup qualifier in Jamaica. Roberto Garcia of Mexico is the referee for the June 11 game and Enrico Wijngaarde of Suriname for the June 18 match. ... The U.S. is 14-3-5 at RFK, its most frequent venue.