International friendlies often mean little whether a team wins or loses. But the United States Men’s National Team’s ability to come back and tie Russia will prove to be an important result for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side.
The former German National Team head coach has had both ups and downs the start of his tenure with the U.S. Men, and a disappointing loss to Jamaica in September put the team in a position in which it had to respond.
This is exactly what the team has done, with the 2-2 draw going down as its fourth consecutive positive result. In fact, coming back and showing how resilient and gutsy the players can be is starting to become a pattern for this team.
In its previous match against Guatemala, the team allowed its opponent to score within the first five minutes of the match. The U.S. needed a victory to clinch the top spot in its group in World Cup Qualifying, and proceeded to score three unanswered goals to win the contest.
Against Russia, the Americans were down twice, but managed to find an equalizer each time. The first goal was a wonderful volley from Michael Bradley, and the second came from Mikkel Diskerub in stoppage time.
Klinsmann has this team playing positive soccer, and also has the team believing that it is never out of a game. With more victories like this, this team will start to build an identity.
In the past, the United States’ only hope against a team like Russia—ninth in FIFA’s world rankings—was to pack the defense and hope to get goals off of counter attacks.
This is not a strategy that can work once a team falls behind, and being able to erase a deficit not once, but twice, is a fantastic accomplishment for this team.
While victories in friendlies are only symbolic, the United States needs inspiration going forward. The goals against Russia and the country's first victory in Mexico City earlier this year are the type of moments that the team can reflect back on and draw confidence from.
With more victories in exhibitions like this and more positive results in World Cup Qualifying, the United States will be walking tall when it heads to Brazil.
There is a long way to go until then, but this result is another step in the right direction for the U.S. Men's National Team.