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Americans embarrassed in Aarhus [VIDEO]
by Mike Woitalla, November 19th, 2009 7AM



[USA-DENMARK] The World Cup-bound Americans ended 2009 with a 3-1 loss at Denmark, which struck three times in the first 10 minutes of the second half after falling behind to Jeff Cunningham's 26th-minute goal. The loss came four days after the USA fell 1-0 at Slovakia.

Cunningham returned to the national team for the first time since 2005 and played eight minutes against Slovakia. He started against Denmark and was the USA's strongest player while partnering on the frontline with a lackluster Jozy Altidore.

Cunningham pounced on a pass from Danish goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen as it rolled toward defender Christian Poulsen. The 33-year-old Jamaica native, who led MLS in scoring in 2009, skipped over Poulsen's lunge and struck a fierce, low, left-footed shot into the right corner of the net from 22 yards.

Denmark-USA Highlights:

Coach Bob Bradley's team was lucky not to have gone behind in the 2nd minute when a quick free kick by Jakob Poulsen from the midfield caught right back Frankie Hejduk napping, allowing Jesper Gronkaer a chance from six yards out that he blasted high over the goal.

But Hejduk's poor outing - sloppy fouls, mis-timed tackles and bad positioning -- would haunt the USA in the second half. The veteran defender let Johan Absalonsen escape his watch and latch onto a lofted pass from the half line delivered by Simon Kjaer. Center backs Jonathan Spector and Carlos Bocanegra became aware of Absalonsen when it was too late, and he stroked the ball past keeper Brad Guzan to tie the game 1-1 in 47th minute.

Five minutes later Hejduk lost an aerial duel on the right side that allowed Absalonsen to cruise down the flank and deliver a low ball across the goalmouth that Soren Rieks tapped past Guzan.

The buildup for Denmark's third goal, in the 55th minute, came after a short pass from Michael Bradley to Stuart Holden was intercepted in the midfield. Holden recovered but his unsuccessful slide tackle allowed Rieks to slip the ball past Bocanegra to Martin Bernburg, who shot home from 17 yards. Cunningham's goal was his first for the USA in 12 appearances. The FC Dallas striker had earned his recall to the national team by leading MLS in scoring with 17 goals.

That Cunningham could add provide firepower to the U.S. frontline was about the only good news coming out of the USA's games in Europe. Otherwise, we were reminded that ...

... The Eddie Johnson Revival Project only keeps other players off the field whose last goals we can still remember.

... Altidore is now in his second season in Europe as a bench-rider and unless he breaks through at Hull City he won't be ready for a World Cup.

... The USA doesn't produce nearly enough - hardly any - players who can dribble past opponents at the international level.

... Without Landon Donovan -- who missed the trip because he's aiming to win his fourth MLS title - the USA is not very good at all.

Nov. 18 in Aarhus, Denmark
Denmark 3 USA 1.
Goals: Absalonsen 47, Rieks (Absalonsen) 52, Bernburg 55; Cunningham 26.
Denmark -- Sorensen, Jacobsen, Kjaer, Kroldrup, Lumb, Jensen (Absalonsen, 46), Poulsen (Kvist Jorgensen, 46), Poulsen, Jorgensen (Bech, 80), Rasmussen (Bernburg, 46, Enevoldsen, 90), Gronkaer (Rieks, 46)
USA -- Guzan, Hejduk, Spector (Conrad, 70), Bocanegra (Goodson, 70), Bornstein, Holden (Rogers, 61), Clark, Bradley (Castillo, 61), Feilhaber, Altidore (McCarty, 80), Cunningham (Johnson, 61)

Shots: 8/7
Shots on Goal: 5/3
Saves: 2/2
Corner Kicks: 4/3
Fouls: 14/9
Offside: 1/3
Cards: 0/0

Referee: Craig Thomson (Scotland)
Att.: 15,172.


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