USA 3 Sweden 2: USA looks strong as Kljestan and Ching dominate!

by CoachZ on January 25, 2009

Kljestan hat trick lifts U.S. over Sweden

CARSON, Calif. (AP) – Sacha Kljestan was asked whether he had heard of Aldo “Buff” Donelli, an early American soccer star who went on to become coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers and college football teams at Duquesne, Boston University and Columbia. “No,” the 23-year-old midfielder said, “but he’s my amigo, now.” Kljestan became the first American to score his first three international goals in the same game since Donelli 75 years ago, leading the United States over Sweden 3-2 in an exhibition Saturday night. Making his 12th international appearance, Kljestan beat goalkeeper Johan Dahlin with a 34-yard free kick in the 17th minute, then converted a penalty kick in the 40th following a foul on Marvell Wynne by Adam Johansson. After Daniel Nannskog scored for Sweden on a diving 14-yard header in the 73rd, Kljestan made it 3-1 on a 12-yard shot a minute later off a pass from Brian Ching. Mikael Dahlberg put an 8-yard header past U.S. goalkeeper Troy Perkins in the 89th off Alexander Farnerud’s second assist.

“Getting a hat trick is pretty exciting for me,” Kljestan said. “I’ve never scored more than one goal as a professional in one game before.” Kljestan had just the 11th game of three or more goals for the U.S. national team, the first since Landon Donovan in a 3-1 win over against Ecuador on March 25, 2007. The only other American player to score his first three international goals in the same match was Donelli, who scored four times as the U.S. defeated Mexico 4-2 in a World Cup qualifier at Rome on May 24, 1934.

“Sacha has grown and I think that’s obvious,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. “We continue to challenge him in every camp, but certainly we know that he’s a guy who’s always a strong candidate to be on the field.”

Kljestan plays for Chivas USA and was on his home field. He is just back from a training stint with Scotland’s Glasgow Celtic.

“I slept on the flight home and then my body adjusted real well,” he said. “I slept nine hours both nights I was back, so that was good. I’ve always prided myself on being fit, and I was glad I could go 90 minutes.”

Kljestan and Ching were the only regulars to start for the United States, preparing for a World Cup qualifier against Mexico on Feb. 11 at Columbus, Ohio. Midfielder Daniel Andersson was Sweden’s only player with more than 12 international appearances. Perkins made three saves to win his international debut. Major League Soccer’s goalkeeper of the year for D.C. United in 2006, Perkins plays for Norway’s Valerenga. Also playing for the United States for the first time were Columbus Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers and Real Salt Lake defender Chris Wingert.

Dahlberg, Dahlin, Johansson, Rasmus Elm and Gustav Svensson made their Swedish national team debuts. “It was a good test for us. The U.S. played a little bit better us in the first half,” said Sweden coach Lars Lagerback, whose team meets Mexico on Wednesday in Oakland.

Sat., Jan. 24
United States 3-2 Sweden Recap
Wed., Jan. 28
Mexico vs. Sweden Preview
Wed., Feb. 11
France vs. Argentina
Brazil vs. Italy
Spain vs. England
Austria vs. Sweden
Tunisia vs. Netherlands
South Africa vs. Chile

Note: Brian Ching and Sacha Kljestan were dominant, Kljestan in the midfield and Ching at forward. Kljestan’s final goal was poetry in motion. Ching collected a well played over-the-shoulder ball and put just enough pace on his service to Sacha that is was not really much of a surprise when the ball found the back of the net. Sweden’s two goals and two near misses came in the last 20 minutes of regulation and into the 3 minutes of stoppage time. The 2 Swedish goals found the back of the net after absolutely gorgeous balls were played across the goal mouth, both involved the outside midfielder, Mikael Dahlberg. The first, Dahlberg to Daniel Nannskog. Nannskog headed the ball in on a textbook, beautifully executed strike and then Dahlberg got the second goal in almost identical fashion. The near miss that would have tied the match was almost an instant replay of the two that found home. The final scoring threat for the USA came at 1:47 into stoppage on an impressive breakaway by Kenny Cooper that was eventually stifled by the Swedish goalkeeper when Cooper went wide, diminishing his angle and allowing the keeper time to recover and close down the distance between the two. It was a bright moment for a Swedish defense that was tested all night.

Substitutions by both sides and the absence of a good number of the US squad illustrated just how deep the USA may be, particiularly with excellent showings by Marvel Wynne, Brian Ching, Sacha Kljestan, and John Thorrington. The real test will be on February 11, 2009 (7pm EST), in Columbus, Ohio. The 11th will see the USA meet Mexico at Crew stadium in what promises to be another polar bear match more suited for penguins than soccer players! Don’t miss it, it should be the first real test this year, icicles on the ball or not.

See you in the cheap seats!

Coach Z

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

CoachZ March 26, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Thanks for looking in Bob!


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