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USA v. Switzerland 2-1, 2021 friendly recap

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The USMNT went to Switzerland to take on the Swiss in a friendly match. Unfortunately, the result was a bit of a disappointment, with the team falling 2-1

Switzerland v United States - International Friendly Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

The USMNT took on the Swiss national team in Switzerland and fell 2-1. While the team came out and played strongly in the first half, the weren’t able to turn in enough chances to keep that lead through the second. The team was missing some significant talent, particularly Zack Steffen and Christian Pulisic and should see those faces return for the Nation’s League matches later in the week.

The USMNT started off a bit on the back foot, but managed to get an early lead. The Swiss press had the MNT stuck in their defensive half for the opening minutes, up until Jackson Yueill picked up a loose ball and drove into the Swiss half. From there, the team built up play, eventually working to a cross towards Sargent in the box. That ball was cleared poorly by the Swiss defense, falling kindly to Sebastian Lletget. Lletget pinged the ball to Brendan Aaronson, who put the ball back to Lletegt. From there, the LA Galaxy midfielder comfortably slotted the ball home. The US was up within 5 minutes.

That lead would only last another 5. The Swiss were able to break down the right side of the field against an overstretched American defense. Silvan Widmer managed to put a cross to Ricardo Rodriguez on the opposite wing and Rodriguez put in a shot from outside the box. The wingback’s shot took a deflection off of Reggie Cannon, fizzing just inside the far post and well outside of Ethan Horvath’s reach. Just like that, it’s one-one.

With both sides level again, the game settled down a bit. While both teams struggled at times against the opponent’s press, it became increasingly clear through the first half that the United States was growing into, and eventually controlling, the match. While the Swiss offense stalled, the Americans started building attacks. First came a shot on target from distance by Lletget in the 19’. Afterwords, Lletget put one slightly wide. There was a chipped cross from the left that Sargent couldn’t quite get to. And there was a cross from the right that Sargent did get to and put on target, but was saved by the Swiss keeper. There were shots from Aaronson and Sergiño Dest. The USMNT would knock on the Swiss goal through that first half, but they couldn’t break through.

On the other hand, Switzerland finally got a second shot in the closing minutes of the first half. They got a soft penalty after a Swiss attacker put the ball into Dest’s arm from a foot away. The universe objected to this absurd interpretation of the rules and forced Rodriguez’s shot well wide. Both sides would go into halftime with the score level.

The USMNT came out for the second half a little bit shakier than they would have liked. Switzerland came in and made some changes, both in their tactics and their personnel, bringing on three strong subs. The Swiss started playing more directly, bypassing the American press. In particular, the Swiss started effectively targeting the left center back, isolating first John Brooks, and then Tim Ream after he came on, to good effect. Breel Embolo got two clean breaks that forced Horvath to come out and make a pair of really good saves. And then, finally, they took advantage of some sloppiness from the American backline as well as some confusion following a string of substitutions, with Steven Zuber, one of the substitutes, poking the ball in. While the USMNT would have moments in the second half, particularly a shot from Gio Reyna that went off the post, the energy level of the attack and the press was noticeably lower. While Switzerland were able to generate a few more really strong chances, they weren’t able to get past Horvath and add to the score. Unfortunately, the USMNT attack sputtered out in the last twenty or so minutes and couldn’t overturn the deficit.

Three Takeaways

1) We saw strong performances in the first half from the likes of Lletget, Aaronson, and center back Mark McKenzie. Ethan Horvath also showed himself really well, making some very strong saves in the second half. None of these players are for-sure starters, so good performances certainly help their case.

2) The MNT needs to be able to turn chances into goals. The national team did well to generate chances, particularly in the first half. But chances don’t win games; goals do. The team has to be able to convert those chances.

3) While the defense performance was mostly good in the first half, excluding the first 10 or so minutes, the backline was too disorganized and too exposed in the second half. The team needs to keep the energy level and concentration up for a full match.

The USMNT will return for the Nation’s League semifinal against Honduras on June 3rd.