Denmark 3, USMNT 2 | International Friendly Match Recap
The US national team’s challenging slate of upcoming friendlies got off to a rough start, as Nicklas Bendtner picked up a hat trick that included a stoppage-time winner to lead Denmark to a 3-2 victory on a soggy Wednesday evening at NRGi Park in Aarhus, Denmark.
Bendtner's 91st-minute winner spoiled a strong performance from the US strike partnership of Jozy Altidore and Aron Johannsson, who came into the starting lineup in place of the injured Clint Dempsey. The duo scored go-ahead goals on either end of halftime to twice give the US the lead.
With a Tuesday meeting with Switzerland (12 pm ET, Fox Sports 1) looming ahead of an April showdown with Mexico and June friendlies at the Netherlands and Germany in preparation for this summer’s Gold Cup, it was ultimately an inauspicious outing for the Yanks, marked by the continued inability to hold a lead.
US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s interesting mix in the starting XI, with Altidore paired with Johansson and Michael Bradley in central midfield alongside Alejandro Bedoya, resulted in a mostly inconsistent attack.
While a new backline mix of John Brooks and Michael Orozco in central defense, Greg Garza on the left and Timothy Chandler on the right, in front of goalkeeper Nick Rimando, Denmark had the US on their heels for long periods of the game.
But against the run of play, the US struck first.
Chandler hit a hopeful long cross into the box for Altidore, who outfought two Denmark defenders to the ball and hit a bullish left-footed volley to beat goalkeeper Stephan Andersen for the 19th-minute goal.
Denmark’s possession would pay off in the 33rd minute, though, as during a long build-up, Jakob Poulsen played the ball through to Daniel Wass on the right wing. Wass hit a cross to Lasse Vibe, who cleverly flicked on to Bendtner for an easy finish into an open goal.
The Danes nearly doubled their lead right before halftime when, in the 45th minute, Vibe fleeced Garza on the wing to send a dangerous cross in front of the goalmouth for Bendtner. But the VfL Wolfsburg striker was unable to get a touch on the ball, and the teams went into the locker room deadlocked at 1-1.
Denmark picked up in the second half where they left off, taking advantage of a bad clearance attempt in the US area for a Nicholai Bollesen shot that a diving Rimando turne away. And in the 57th minute, Eriksen hit a perfectly weighted chip to put Vibe free on goal, only for him to sky his right-footed shot over the bar.
The US started to gain footing as the second half wore on, and they broke free for the lead in the 66th minute when Bradley unlocked Altidore with a ball over the top into the Denmark area. Altidore then laid off for Johannsson, who got between two defenders to put away a close-range finish for the Yanks' first second-half goal since last summer’s World Cup.
After that, it was all Denmark.
Bendtner’s second equalizer came in the 83rd minute on a looping cross that the US were unable to clear out of the box. It fell to Bendtner, who was able to settle and slam home a side-footed blast past Rimando.
His winner came in the third minute of stoppage time on a perfectly-timed run and long ball from Eriksen down the right wing. Bendtner took one touch and fired past Rimando just inside the far post.
The US nearly equalized at the death, with a set-piece ball from Bradley finding Brooks, whose header went just wide to send the Yanks to a fourth loss in their last five games.