The USMNT and Venezuela battled to a 1-1 draw in the Americans' final tune-up before World Cup qualifying resumes. It was a tight contest in Sandy, Utah, with the Americans rallying for a second-half equalizer in a hard-fought match. It's not the ideal result heading into crucial matches, but there's plenty Bruce Arena & Co. can take from it.
Here are 5 takeaways from the match.
Set pieces continue to be a concern for the U.S.
The USMNT's defense looked reasonably stout in open play, but they were beaten on a set piece for Venezuela's opener. The Americans failed to adequately deal with a corner kick and the Vinotinto capitalized. The U.S. couldn't get a proper clearance as Venezuela's Junior Moreno was able to head a ball back into the box, which an unmarked Jose Manuel Velazquez was able to nod home. John Brooks and Fabian Johnson were left ball-watching as Venezuela struck first, and the U.S. looked sloppy on a number of set pieces throughout the match.
The Americans missed Jozy Altidore
The U.S. was without their preferred No. 9 on Saturday due to family reasons and his absence was noticeable. Bobby Wood and Clint Dempsey were tasked with leading the attack in Arena's 4-4-2 against Venezuela with Altidore gone, and while they played OK it's clear that Altidore is the main man up top. Worry not, though, according to U.S. Soccer, Altidore is "working towards the qualifier on Wednesday." Good news!
Christian Pulisic is a gem
It might be getting tiring to hear, but the 18-year-old truly is something special. With the Americans trying to rally, it was Pulisic that delivered the equalizer. He was calm, cool and collected with his effort in the second half that the midfielder rolled into corner of the net with ease. Operating as a No. 10 under Bruce Arena rather than on the wing, it looks like he's taking a liking to the new position and making it his own.
Venezuela's future looks solid
It has to be mentioned that the Vinotinto look like they have the pieces to become truly dangerous in the future. Venezuela started with quite a young lineup, but they didn't shy away from the occasion. Sure, it was just a friendly, but they showed spirit throughout the match with Darwin Machis really putting in a quality shift. There's definitely some quality there.
Tim Howard's still got it!
He might be approaching 40 years old, but Howard showed why Bruce Arena remains loyal to the Colorado Rapids goalkeeper. After scoring the opener, Venezuela were hungry for more in the first half. They could — and should — have gotten at least a second goal by around the half-hour mark if not for Howard. The 38-year-old keeper made a handful of diving stops to keep the Americans within striking distance. It wasn't quite a 2014-World-Cup-vs-Belgium performance, but it was solid.
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