PHILADELPHIA — Jurgen Klinsmann’s debut is out of the way. All he needs now is a win.
Klinsmann’s debut coaching U.S. soccer was bolstered by Robbie Rogers’ tying goal late in the second half to help the Americans salvage a 1-1 draw against Mexico on Wednesday night.
Oribe Peralta scored for Mexico in a rematch of the Gold Cup final.
Klinsmann kicked off a new era in American soccer less than two weeks after he was hired.
He needs more time to make his mark. Klinsmann only held three practices since he took over a program that need a clear jolt after years of mediocre results.
The Americans, with a revamped midfield, need to develop a feel for each other and an understanding of what to expect out of Klinsmann.
Klinsmann, one of the greatest players Germany ever produced, was put in charge of making the U.S. competitive again. After reaching the round of 16 at last year’s World Cup, the Americans took a step backward this year. They were routed by Spain in early June, upset by Panama in Gold Cup group play and then blew a two-goal lead against Mexico in the Gold Cup final, costing Bob Bradley his job.
Klinsmann’s debut in the international friendly will be remembered for Rogers and Brek Shea bursting onto Lincoln Financial Field with a bundle of energy.
Rogers tied the game in the 73rd minute when he tapped in a nice crossing pass from Shea. Rogers had just subbed in for Michael Bradley, playing for the U.S. soccer team for the first time since his father was fired.
That goal was good enough for the 30,138 fans who saw the U.S. earlier blow what had been their only true scoring opportunity.
The U.S. nearly tied the score at the 56-minute mark, but Carlos Bocanegra’s header was turned away by Guillermo Ochoa. Guillermo kicked away a soft rebound and Mexico stayed in control.
Just not for long.
Mexico struck first when Peralta got fired a crossing pass past Bradley in the crease, and goalie Tim Howard could not make the save for a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute.
The U.S. had no shots or corner kicks in the first half.
Until Rogers and Shea sparked them, it looked like the U.S. picked up where it left off against Mexico
The Gold Cup loss to Mexico was a sign that the U.S. team’s progress had stalled under Bradley. The U.S. almost hired Klinsmann twice — first after the 2006 World Cup and again last year before giving Bradley what turned out to be a short-lived contract extension.
This time, the Americans got their man. Klinsmann clapped and exhorted his players from the sideline, all while starting the process of evaluating what exactly he has to work with.
This was a “friendly,” the first since 2008, but was anything but. There was a brief skirmish in the first half before cooler heads prevailed. These are the two best teams in CONCACAF, and it’s a heated rivalry whenever and wherever they play. Mexico has only beaten the U.S. twice on U.S. soil since 2000, but the wins have been in the past two Gold Cup finals.