New England Soccer Today

Two for Three

U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann finally opted to start a formation with two strikers in Slovenia on Tuesday and it paid off with the most impressive offensive performance seen in Klinsmann’s tenure.

Clint Dempsey tied Joe-Max Moore's mark of 24 U.S. goals and moved into 4th on the all-time list. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

Clint Dempsey had his 24th goal for the U.S. and strikers Edson Buddle and Jozy Altidore each added a goal as the visitors ran out to a 3-1 lead at halftime. Slovenia would come out from halftime with renewed energy and pull back a goal, but the U.S., led by Captain Carlos Bocanegra, making his 100th appearance, held on to pick up its first win, 3-2, in Europe since 2008 and just its second win in seven games under Klinsmann (2-4-1).

Buddle gave the U.S. the lead in just the ninth minute after a giveaway from Rene Krhin caused by Dempsey. The ball fell to Buddle about 25 yards from goal and the former Los Angeles Galaxy striker hammered a low shot that hit off the crossbar and entered the net to open the scoring.

Slovenia equalized in the 26th minute through Tim Matavz. Matavz, who had been caught offside in several attempts to get behind the U.S. defense earlier, finally caught a break with a questionable non-call. The 22-year-old PSV Eindhoven striker got on the end of a through pass from Andraž Kirm and ran in on goal before curling a shot around Howard to knot the score at 1-1.

Dempsey would put the U.S. back in the lead just five minutes before half time off a Michael Bradley corner kick. The former New England Revolution midfielder beat his defender to the cross and headed it just inside the far post. The goal tied Dempsey for 4th all-time in goals for the U.S. with former Revolution striker Joe-Max Moore at 24.

Altidore would add a third for the U.S. just a couple minutes later when Fabian Johnson, making his first U.S. start, was taken down in the box, earning a penalty kick. Altidore sent the penalty just inside the post with goalkeeper Samir Handanovic diving the wrong way, putting the U.S. up 3-1. That was the third U.S. goal in a 34 minute span after scoring just twice in the first nine hours of Klinsmann’s tenure.

Slovenia made it 3-2 in the 61st minute after putting the U.S. net under near constant bombardment for a two minute period. Matavz had his second goal of the night after getting the ball from Ljubijankic. Matavz got into the box and slotted a shot past Howard to pull Slovenia back with in one. Just prior to that goal Bostjan Cesar saw a shot off the bar, the U.S. cleared a shot off the line and Matavz was denied by the post.

The U.S. would sharpen up at the back after the goal to hold onto the lead and keep Slovenia at bay.

With a new 4-4-2 diamond formation, the U.S. looked a new team from the opening whistle. Less than a minute into the match Johnson blasted a dipping shot from just outside the box that forced Handanovic to tip it over the bar for a corner kick.

Two minutes after Buddle put the U.S. ahead, Altidore should’ve doubled the lead. The 22-year-old got on the end of a low cross from Johnson just about a yard out from goal with an open net, but, under pressure, he was unable to get his shot on frame.

The final twenty minutes of the half would see three goals and the U.S. leading 3-1 going into the break.

Just after halftime substitute Valter Birsa nearly pulled one back for Slovenia after a poor clearance attempt by Steve Cherundolo while the U.S. were under pressure. Cherundolo’s header fell right to Birsa at the far post, but the midfielder sent his shot just wide of the net.

That would start a spell of pressure for Slovenia, eventually leading to their second goal, but the U.S. would hold on to their slim advantage to get their second win under Klinsmann.

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