A very familiar theme is developing for this version of the United States men’s national team — score first, hunker down…make a mental mistake and give up a road lead in Europe. It happened against Denmark last week to cost the USMNT a chance at victory and the same pattern happened again on Tuesday in Zurich.
The only difference is that this time it came with about 25 minutes of unrelenting pressure after forward Jozy Altidore received a double yellow card in the 68th minute. He was guilty of a yellow-card worthy foul and followed it up with an F-Bomb to the ref, who showed him a red card thanks to that combination.
It changed the complexion of a game that was already beginning to look like it was under the complete control of the Swiss too.
Yet there were a few positives, with the first coming from one piece of brilliance from defender Brek Shea, who belted a world class free kick past Swiss goalkeeper Roman Buerki.
Additionally, one could take away the positive of the fact that unlike just a few days ago in Denmark (and throughout the Klinsmann era), the USMNT didn’t concede a late goal and were able to salvage a 1-1 tie out of what was clearly a mess of a game.
With Altidore off in the 68th minute the United States saw an absolute onslaught towards its net, and eventually it cost them with a set piece goal in the 82nd minute. It would be tempting to blame being down to 10-men for what took place and the late equalizer, but Altidore would have had very little to do with conceding a set piece just outside the USMNT box.
Instead, it was a lack of marking and physicality from both DeAndre Yedlin and Alfredo Morales that did the Yanks in.
Still, this was a massive step up in competition from Denmark and going on the road to the 12th ranked team
Perhaps the biggest positive was seeing Timmy Chandler going forward and serving in crosses to a box full of USMNT players for a change. It has been been few and far between to see either of those two things happening at the same time, and it made the USMNT dangerous against a very good Swiss side in their own country.
While it’s tempting to focus on the late equalizer, there was plenty to like about a team who is clearly growing in to a new identity in focusing forward to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
No doubt there is plenty to work on going forward, but this is a marathon to 2018 and not a sprint. Seeing glimmers of hope on foreign soil isn’t the worst thing to happen.
Up next is the heated rivalry with Mexico in San Antonio, Texas on April 15, with the match televised by Fox Sports 1.