New England Soccer Today

U.S. fall to France, 1-0

PARIS, France – The United States Men’s National Soccer Team’s struggles to generate offense continued on Friday as they fell 1-0 at Stade de France and are now 1-4-1 under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

The Americans kept the French quiet during the first half, but the home side came out with renewed life in the second period, keeping the visitors pegged back for much of the final 45 minutes and eventually finding the back of the net.

It seemed just a matter of time before France would grab the lead and sure enough substitute Loic Remy got the game winner in the 72nd minute after getting on the end of a long ball and holding off Clarence Goodson. Remy slotted a ball past Tim Howard to give France the 1-0 lead.

With the U.S. failing to score for the fourth time in six games, one goal was all France would need. Under Klinsmann the U.S. has scored just two goals in nine hours of play.

Klinsmann used similar tactics to his previous five matches as head coach, using a 4-5-1 formation. Howard started in net with defenders Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Carlos Bocanegra and Timmy Chandler in front of him. The midfield was made up of Kyle Beckerman, Maurice Edu, Brek Shea, Danny Williams and Clint Dempsey, who was positioned behind lone striker Jozy Altidore.

The closest the U.S. came to scoring was in the 20th minute when Altidore had a potential penalty claim denied. The 22-year-old striker got the ball in the box with his back to goal and attempted to turn on his defender, but was pulled to the ground by Laurent Koscielny.  Greek referee Michael Koukoulakis waved away the U.S.’ striker’s protests.

Franck Ribery nearly opened the scoring for France in the 27th minute after getting the ball from Mathieu Debuchy off a low cross towards the near post. Ribery attempted to back heel a shot past Howard, but his effort rolled just wide of the post.

Jeremy Menez came close in the 37th minute after Ribery found him with a back pass inside the box. Menez, initially with his back to goal, turned for a quick shot, but blasted his effort over the net.

Ten minutes after halftime Karim Benzema almost put France in the lead. The Real Madrid striker got to the ball after Adil Rami headed a corner kick towards the post. Benzema powered a shot towards goal, but was denied by the crossbar.

It was Benzema again nearly finding the back of the net a minute later with a direct free kick from just outside the box. Benzema curled a shot around the U.S. wall that looked destined for just inside the post, but Howard kept it out with an impressive diving save.

As the second half continued, Klinsmann would introduce several subs into the midfield including Jermaine Jones, Damarcus Beasley and Fabian Johnson. For the German-born Johnson, it was his first appearance for the U.S. after FIFA approved his one-time switch of FIFA nationality from Germany to United States.

France had another chance on a quick counterattack in the 70th minute, but Howard was quick off his line to deny Remy after he broke behind the U.S. defense.

Remy wouldn’t make the same mistake twice, taking his second chance to put France in the lead two minutes later.

Looking to mount a comeback, Klinsmann brought on Edson Buddle for Edu in the 76th minute and switched to a 4-4-2 formation. The move would generate more pressure in the attack — including a dangerous run from Clint Dempsey, a former New England Revolution midfielder, which resulted in a free kick after a reckless foul from Germany — but few clear cut chances.

The U.S. returns to action on Tuesday with a match against Slovenia. The game will air live at noon on ESPN2.

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