GLENDALE, Ariz. – Time after time, chance after chance, the US national team pushed hard for a possible winning goal against Venezuela on Saturday night, only to be turned away.
Then, a foul put more time on the stoppage-time clock in the second half, and the US took advantage. Jermaine Jones’ corner kick found Ricardo Clark’s head, and Clark beat Venezuela goalkeeper José Morales in the eighth minute of extra time.
The final whistle sounded just seconds later, and the US celebrated a 1-0 victory before 22,403 at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann clearly went for the win as evidenced by his substitutions for offense, and the constant pressure applied by the US attack was evident throughout what nearly ended up as a scoreless draw.
Morales stonewalled at least three top-notch chances before Clark’s winner, or the US might have won by more.
The hosts played a nearly flawless first half, making Klinsmann look good by following the style of play he seeks – an emphasis on attacking, ball possession and dictating the flow of the match. Midfielder Benny Feilhaber was particularly active, as were midfielder Graham Zusi and defender A.J. DeLaGarza, both whom were making their national team debuts.
In the 19th minute, Teal Bunbury bent a left-footed shot on target but over the crossbar. About a minute later, Feilhaber fed Shea running down the left side, and his low shot went just wide of the far post.
Zusi’s dead-ball service landed at Shea’s head in the 23rd minute, but the FC Dallas attacker’s header was saved by Morales. The play represented the closest chance for a goal for either side in the first half, as American keeper Bill Hamid was barely tested through the first 45 minutes.
The US outshot Venezuela 4-3 at halftime but were clearly the more offensive-minded side.
The second half opened with a golden opportunity again for the Americans. In the 48th minute, the ball was worked into the box for midfielder Jermaine Jones, whose blast from right in front of the goal mouth sailed wide left.
Shea stayed active into the second half, and Jones, with the US team due to a long suspension from his German club team, cranked up his effort in the second 45 minutes. Jones led a five-on-three break in the 64th minute after Hamid gathered in a Venezuelan shot, but Bunbury’s shot went wide.
Zusi got one last opportunity moments before he was replaced. He picked the ball up after a giveaway, fired from the right side of the box but the shot was too high.
Chris Wondolowski, one of four US substitutes used, had a great chance in the 76th minute, but his shot from close range was saved. He also had another shot saved in the closing minutes.
MLS star Alejandro Moreno (Chivas USA) captained La Vinotinto and played 86 minutes, while Emilio Rentería (Columbus Crew) entered as a sub in the 78th minute.
Scoring Summary :
USA – Ricardo Clark (Jermaine Jones) 97
VEN – José Velásquez (caution) 44
VEN – Carlos Salazar (caution) 46
USA – Jermaine Jones (caution) 67
VEN – Francisco Flores (caution) 92
VEN – Emilio Rentería (caution) 93
VEN – José Velásquez (ejection) 98
United States – Bill Hamid, A.J. DeLaGarza, Heath Pearce (Zach Loyd 72), Michael Parkhurst, Geoff Cameron, Jeff Larentowicz (Chris Wondolowski 62), Graham Zusi (C.J. Sapong 74), Jermaine Jones (capt.), Teal Bunbury (Brad Evans 88), Benny Feilhaber (Ricardo Clark 62), Brek Shea
Substitutes not used: Nick Rimando, Jeff Parke, Brad Evans.
Venezuela – José Morales, Carlos Rivero, Carlos Salazar, José Velásquez Miguel Mea Vitali (Emilio Rentería 78), Ángel Flores, Edgar Peres Greco (Ángel Chourio), Francisco Flores, Alejandro Moreno (capt.) (Richard Blanco 86), Alejandro Guerra (Diego Guerrero, 89), Andrés Rouga
Substitutes not used: José Reyes, Alan Liebeskind, John Chancellor, Ruben Arocha, Rubert Quijada, Javier González, Diomar Díaz, Darwin Machis
Referee: Roberto Garcia (MEX)
Assistant Referees: Marcos Quintero (MEX), Hector Delgadillo (MEX)
4th Official: Terry Vaughn (USA)
Weather: Partly cloudy and breezy, 66 degrees.