America down Slovenia

2011-11-15 22:26
Slovenia v United States (AP)

Ljubljana - The United States won for just the second time since Jurgen Klinsmann took over as coach, winning 3-2 over Slovenia after Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore scored in a three-minute spell late in the first half on Tuesday.

Klinsmann, the former German star and coach, switched to a more attack-oriented 4-4-2 and was rewarded when Edson Buddle hit the opening goal. However, Tim Matavz scored twice for Slovenia, either side of the goals from Dempsey and Altidore.

The win on a foggy night here was the 34th-ranked Americans' first in Europe in six matches and 3½ years.

At last year's World Cup, the two teams drew 2-2 in the group stage.

The US had lost four times in Klinsmann's six previous matches in charge since replacing Bob Bradley in late July.

"It looked much better," Klinsmann said. "It's a process, and that process, besides results, is going really well."

On a night when the fog prevented players from seeing clearly for more than 10 or 20 yards, Buddle put the US ahead in the ninth minute off a pass from Dempsey after a defensive mix-up.

Matavz levelled in the 26th minute as an American offside trap failed. Dempsey scored with a header in the 41st and Altidore made it 3-1 when he converted a penalty two minutes later.

But Slovenia, ranked 27th in the world, responded after halftime when Matavz cut the deficit in the 61st after Bostjan Cesar's corner had bounced off the crossbar.

US captain Carlos Bocanegra became the 12th American to make 100 international appearances, but Klinsmann made three changes from Friday's 1-0 loss at France.

"It was a special night," Klinsmann said. "The team was pumped up all day, and they wanted to do well for him."

Buddle and Altidore started up front as Klinsmann went to a two-forward formation. Michael Bradley  son of the former coach - and Buddle made their first starts since Klinsmann's debut in August.

"It was kind of coming over the last couple of months," Klinsmann said. "We've been working on that."

Fabian Johnson, who started for Germany in the 2009 European Under-21 final, began in midfield, four days after making his American debut as a second-half substitute.

Johnson nearly put the US ahead in the first minute, with goalkeeper Samir Handanovic just tipping his volley over the crossbar.

Buddle scored his third goal in 10 appearances, and his first since June 2010 against Australia, after Handanovic's attempted clearance was stripped by Dempsey from Rene Krhin. Dempsey tipped the ball to Buddle, who scored from 25 yards.

Two minutes later, an open Altidore skied over the crossbar from Johnson's cross.

With the defence playing a high line, Zlatan Ljubijankic split the center backs and Matavz broke through alone to score from about 15 yards over Howard's outstretched right hand.

Dempsey broke the deadlock with a header from about 8 yards off Michael Bradley's corner. With his 24th international goal, Dempsey tied Joe-Max Moore for fourth place on the US scoring list, trailing only Landon Donovan (46), Eric Wynalda (34) and Brian McBride (30).

Miso Brecko then tripped Johnson in the penalty area, and Altidore converted the penalty for his 13th international goal.

Slovenia had a chance to equalise in second-half injury time, but Valter Birsa - who scored the opening goal when the teams met in South Africa last year - put a 25-yard free kick over the crossbar.

"We'd liked to have finished game a little bit stronger than we did," Dempsey said. "But we're happy with the win."


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