Julian Green scored a shocking goal just before halftime to give the Americans the lead in Lyon, and a youthful US men's national team finished a three-game stretch of friendlies with a surprising 1-1 draw against World Cup contenders France on Saturday.
Kylian Mbappe leveled inside the final quarter-of-an-hour for France, which fielded a starting XI with 416 caps between them in their last tune-up before opening World Cup group play next Saturday. By contrast, US manager Dave Sarachan's XI had only 73 combined international appearances and, as expected, were forced to weather an early storm.
But France lacked incisiveness and found themselves trailing when Green seized upon an error in the back and fizzed an exceptional finish between Hugo Lloris and his left near post.
Things got even worse for Les Bleus early in the second half when striker Olivier Giroud was forced off early following a nasty clash of heads with American defender Matt Miazga. And although Mbappe eventually equalized off a fine feed from Benjamin Pavard, it was the youthful Yanks who would depart far happier with the result.
- 44' – USA – Julian Green
- 78' – FRA – Kylian Mbappe
- THE BIG PICTURE: Between the caliber of opposition, the location and the inexperience of the US squad, this may have been the single most challenging friendly in American soccer history. While the equalizer may have felt deflating, it was still a resolute performance full of lessons and reasons to hope for better things to come following a 2018 World Cup absence.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: As expected, the Americans defended for most of the opening 45 minutes, before Green changed the game with a ruthless, turn-and-fire finish. The 23-year-old may not yet have reached the potential level in club football many have expected of him. But he now has four goals in 10 caps for the US.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Columbus Crew SC goalkeeper Zack Steffen made his case to be the future No. 1 for the US with seven saves, none more difficult than the final double save he made against Nabil Fekir and Ousmane Dembele deep in second-half stoppage time.
- FRA: Saturday, June 16 vs. Australia, 2018 FIFA World Cup Group C (6 am ET | FS1, Telemundo)
- USA: Tuesday, Sept. 11 vs. Mexico, International Friendly (8:30 pm ET | ESPN, UniMás, UDN)