The USMNT earned a dramatic victory over Venezuela January 21, getting a 1-0 victory in stoppage time to mark the first win for the United States men over a South American side since 2007. The game was played in front of 22,403 fans at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
The international friendly happened over the same weekend when the women's team is in Vancouver, B.C. for the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament. The men's game might not have the same implications, but the win was important for the team as they will be heading into World Cup qualifications later in the year. The victory is an indication of the progress of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's program as he works toward forging the program into one that is a consistent winner.
Creating chances, limiting the opponent
The United States defense was rock solid, only allowing one shot on frame all evening, and forcing most chances taken to be from distance. In contrast, the USMNT found opportunities in close. They failed to convert the chances, but were the better side at creating them.
In the 23rd minute, Graham Zusi sent a free kick into Brek Shea, but the header Shea sent in was met with a glove stop by Venezuela goalkeeper Jose Morales. It was four minutes after Teal Bunbury sent a shot just over the crossbar. The chances for United States kept coming, but the score remained tied through regulation.
Into the seventh minute of stoppage
It took all the way to the seventh minute of stoppage time until Ricardo Clark found the back of the net, off a Jermaine Jones assist. The play helped earn Jones the distinction as Budweiser Man of the Match.
Four players made their first appearances for the national team. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid, joined Zusi, defender A.J. DeLaGarza, and forward C.J. Sapong in getting minutes against Venezuela.
Hamid made history as the ninth goalkeeper ever to earn a clean sheet in his first appearance for the national team. He didn't have much work to do back there the way the defense kept the ball out of the area, but he still earned the distinction.
Next up for the USMNT is a date with Panama in Panama City January 25. It's great to see Klinsmann's style of coaching pay off with another win, and the way the side limited chances, they are on the right track. Once they begin converting more of their own, lookout.
Jeff Musall is a longtime fan of soccer. He especially enjoys the interplay of team and nation that comes along with the international competitions.