Denmark vs. USA: Winners and Losers from International Friendly
The United States men's national team suffered another heartbreaking defeat in the final 10 minutes of a match on Wednesday night, as the Yanks fell to Denmark 3-2 in Aarhus.
Jozy Altidore scored the first goal of the match in the 19th minute, but a defensive lapse in the 33rd minute led to a Nicklas Bendtner equalizer.
Seventeen minutes after Aron Johannsson put the Yanks back in front, Bendtner netted his second equalizer of the match. The Danish forward then finished off the game with his third strike in stoppage time.
Here's a look at the winners and losers from Denmark's home victory over the United States.
Winner: Jozy Altidore
The confidence displayed by Altidore up top for the USMNT was a welcome sight for many supporters of the Yanks.
Altidore handed the United States their first lead of the match in the 19th minute when he sent a cracking half-volley into the back of the net.
The Toronto FC player then picked up an assist on Johannsson's goal in the 66th minute. Altidore could have attempted a shot from the left side of the penalty area, but he decided to drop the ball over to Johannsson, who coolly finished between a pair of defenders.
Although he was not a consistent threat in the final third due to the USMNT's lack of possession in the first half, Altidore showed up during the two biggest plays of the game for the visitors.
If Altidore continues to boast confidence up top, the USMNT could turn into a dangerous opponent for anyone.
Loser: Gyasi Zardes
After he turned plenty of heads during the first two friendlies of the year, Gyasi Zardes failed to deliver a memorable showing in Aarhus.
The young winger showed some promise early in the first half, when he linked up with right-back Timothy Chandler on a move forward. But he was unable to replicate a move like that throughout the rest of his time on the pitch.
Thanks to his inactivity on the right wing, the Yanks could not ease any of the pressure faced by the defense during the first half.
Some of the blame for Zardes' rough day at the park can be put on USMNT boss Jurgen Klinsmann for putting him in the wrong position. But it's also on Zardes to adjust accordingly to his positioning on the right side of midfield.
Regardless of the excuses you want to use to explain Zardes' performance, the main takeaway from the 23-year-old's night is that he must get better if he wants to earn another start against a tough European opponent.
Winner: Nicklas Bendtner
Former Arsenal man Nicklas Bendtner scored his first-ever international hat trick in Denmark's come-from-behind win at NRGi Park.
In the 33rd minute, Bendtner scored the first of his two equalizers after he was left wide open in front of the American goal.
The Danish target man was also handed a ton of time to finish on his second strike in the 83rd minute, as the Yanks overcommitted to a cross in the middle of the box.
Bendtner completed his terrific night in stoppage time, when he connected with a Christian Eriksen cross on the right side of the pitch. All the Wolfsburg player had to do after the pass was hit a tremendous shot into the left side of the net.
The two late strikes by the forward once again exposed the USMNT's defensive weakness in the final 10 minutes of a game.
Loser: John Brooks
When the USMNT roster was released for the matches against Denmark and Switzerland, John Brooks' name stuck out as the most trustworthy centre-back.
With the likes of Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron all left home for the two matches in Europe, the pressure was on Brooks to thrive in the middle of defense.
Brooks did the complete opposite of that in Aarhus, as he was caught out of position during some of Denmark's most dangerous attacking surges.
On the third Denmark goal, Brooks seemed to put his arms near his chest in fear instead of sliding in to deny Bendtner of a shot on goal.
The centre-back almost redeemed himself on the final United States set piece of the match, but his header drifted wide of the goal.
With no reinforcements coming for the match against Switzerland on March 31, Brooks will once again start for the Yanks. One can only hope he uses his poor showing on Wednesday as motivation to play better against a dangerous Switzerland side.
Winner: Lasse Vibe
Lasse Vibe was an absolute menace on the wing during his shift on the pitch for the host side Wednesday night.
The Goteborg player caused a ton of problems on the right wing with his pace and dribbling. Because of his terrific performance, USMNT left-back Greg Garza was handed a rude awakening after a few strong showings.
For those who have watched Vibe play at the club level, his impressive night in Aarhus was not shocking at all.
Vibe's club teammate Heath Pearce, who made 35 appearances for the USMNT, praised the 28-year-old for his performance on Twitter.
If he continues to tear apart opposing defenses, Vibe may not be playing in the Allsvenskan for much longer.
Loser: Jurgen Klinsmann
Klinsmann's decision-making skills will once again be questioned by many after his team conceded yet another late lead.
The USMNT boss made some puzzling decisions throughout the match, including a late swap of centre-backs, which handed Ventura Alvarado his first USMNT appearance.
While it may have been important for Klinsmann to hand Alvarado some playing time against a quality opponent, he threw off the rhythm of his own defense.
One of his other errors on Wednesday night saw winger Alejandro Bedoya start in the middle of the park next to Michael Bradley. Instead of taking off the lifeless Zardes at the half, Klinsmann chose to sub out Bedoya in favor of Alfredo Morales.
Bedoya turned in a solid shift next to Bradley, but he was not rewarded with some time on the wing despite the struggles Zardes experienced.
Klinsmann's offensive strategy puzzled some observers as well since Johannsson and Altidore only successfully linked up on one key occasion.
Due to the litany of growing issues with the play of his squad, Klinsmann will be under immense pressure to pick the right team and earn some type of result against the Swiss on Tuesday.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.