By Ridge Mahoney
Senior Editor, Soccer America
As debuts go, it wasn't bad. As debutants go, it was great. Jonathan Bornstein
and Kenny Cooper
their first USA caps with their first international goals as interim head coach Bob Bradley
embarked on his tenure with a 3-1 win over Denmark at Home Depot Center Saturday afternoon.
The Danes initially looked the more polished of the two sides but as their legs grew heavier in the second half they succumbed to the sinuous pace of Justin Mapp
, also receiving
his first cap, and some slick ball movement sparked by central midfielders Ricardo Clark
and Pablo Mastroeni
Denmark relied on piercing runs down the flanks and crosses to
test center backs Bobby Boswell
and Jimmy Conrad
; an excellent serve by Simon Busk Poulsen
, perhaps the Danes' best performer on the day, found lone striker Dennis
free seven yards out from goal to nail a header off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.
Sorsensen escaped Conrad on the play, one of the few times the USA's central
defense was breached. Yet while the back line played solidly for most of the match, the American attack stagnated at the edge of the attacking third in the first half.
alignment lacked cohesion, and Landon Donovan
failed to convert turnovers into chances. Eddie Johnson
labored lead-footedly before being replaced by Cooper in the 63rd minute and
Donovan contributed little before putting away a penalty kick won when Clark fought his way through the middle and was jersey-jerked by Anders Moller Christensen
. Keeper Jesper
got his glove to Donovan's penalty but the ball still snuck inside the post and the first half ended, 1-1.
Mapp replaced forward Nate Jaqua
at halftime and sparked
the attack while roaming across midfield, with Chris Rolfe
moving up to the forward line he usually plays on for Chicago, and Clark and Mastroeni pushing higher to support the strikers.
Mapp set up Bornstein for the second goal with a breathtaking dribble; after he swept up a 50-50 ball in the center circle, he veered right toward the sideline, then darted back inside to split
two defenders and cut back a ball from the goal line that Bornstein volleyed into the net.
The Danes pushed back up the field, anxious to get an equalizer while there was still life in their
legs and menace in their crosses. A sprawling block by keeper Matt Reis
blunted one attempt and a wide-open header sailed wide with Reis rooted to the ground.
Cooper sealed the win by
running onto an excellent long ball from Heath Pearce
, who'd come in at left back in the 74th minute with Bornstein moving into midfield. Cooper beat the offside trap and cruised into the
penalty area to stroke a low shot past Christiansen just as the defenders lunged in.
With four players earning their first caps and five more making just their second USA appearances,
the Americans showed some heart by rallying from a goal down even if Denmark sent an entirely domestic squad. The win was deserved and just reward for a hard 2 ½ weeks of work in camp, the
first conducted with Bradley at the helm. Friendly
Jan. 20 in Carson, Calif. USA 3 Denmark 1.
Donovan (pen.) 44, Bornstein (Mapp) 57, Cooper
(Pearce) 80; Sorensen (S.B. Poulsen) 37. USA --
Reis, Albright (Namoff, 63), Conrad, Boswell (Califf, 89), Bornstein, Mastroeni (Beckerman, 86), Clark, Donovan, Rolfe (Pearce, 74),
Johnson (Cooper, 63), Jaqua (Mapp, 46) Denmark -
Christiansen, Gravgaard, Jacobsen, Christensen, C.Sorensen (C.Poulsen, 68), Jorgensen, Nymann (Keller, 46), Wurtz (Bak Nielsen, 81),
Zimlig (Do Norregaard, 58), S.B.Poulsen (Nielsen, 68), Sorensen (Bech, 46) Stats: USA-DEN Shots:
0-4 Corner Kicks:
1-5 Yellow Cards:
USA - Albright 33, Mastroeni 51, Cooper 81; Denmark -Jorgensen 54 Referee:
Mauricio Navarro (CAN), 1st Asst.:
Hector Vergara (CAN), 2nd Asst.: Simon Fearn (CAN), 4th Official: Baldomero Toledo (USA). Att.: