BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — For U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the biggest perk of exhibition matches right now is getting the chance to experiment with many players in many different roles.
That means winning isn’t always foremost in his mind.READ MORE: Suspect Wanted In Murder Of Victim Who Was Playing Soccer At Garland Apartments, Police Say
“There’s always a little bit of a risk,” Klinsmann said.
And once again, taking that risk meant there would be no reward.
The U.S. allowed victory to slip away in the final minutes for the second time in five days, this time spoiling a potentially storybook homecoming for Jozy Altidore.
Maynor Figueroa’s header in the 86th minute pulled Honduras into a 1-1 tie against the Americans in an exhibition game Tuesday night that followed nearly the same script as Friday’s match against Ecuador.
“That’s what these games are for,” Klinsmann said. “You definitely want to win these games, there’s no doubt about it. But most importantly, it’s to see guys coming in and break into this group, get a little bit of feeling for this environment, for the expectations, get to know their teammates a little bit better.”
Altidore, who grew up in Boca Raton, scored in the 10th minute for his 24th international goal, tying Joe-Max Moore for fifth place on the American career list. Mix Diskerud intercepted a pass, and Michael Bradley sent a long ball from the center circle.
Altidore chested it down, took two touches and beat goalkeeper Donis Escobar to his near post with a 15-yard, right-footed shot.
“That’s the best medicine you can get as a striker, scoring goals,” Klinsmann said.
Figueroa scored when he got away from Jermaine Jones and jumped to beat goalkeeper Nick Rimando with a short header off Mario Martinez’s free kick from a flank in the 86th minute following Diskerud’s foul. Figueroa’s goal was his fourth in 109 international appearances.
The U.S. allowed Enner Valencia’s 88th-minute goal in a 1-1 draw against Ecuador on Friday in Connecticut; Diskerud had put the Americans ahead in the fifth minute of Landon Donovan’s farewell match.READ MORE: 2 Women Arrested After Chase With Dallas County Authorities
Altidore, who missed most of the World Cup after injuring a hamstring early in the opener against Ghana, was in the middle of a great chance two minutes before his goal. He moved with the ball in space on the left side of the penalty area and crossed toward Clint Dempsey. But the pass was slightly behind Dempsey, who sent a shot outside the far post.
“It was like the old days,” Altidore said. “It’s kind of surreal to be back here. I never thought I’d play a professional game with the national team here. There are so many people who helped me get to this point.”
Altidore said cousins from Haiti attended the game, which drew 14,805 to half-full Florida Atlantic Stadium. The Americans are 14-4-4 against Honduras, which lost to France, Ecuador and Switzerland at the World Cup.
Klinsmann changed six starters, giving Jones a start at central defender paired with Matt Besler. Jones, a regular midfield presence during the last World Cup cycle, will be 36 by the 2018 tournament in Russia.
“I think it went well,” Klinsmann said. “I think he did a good job. … I was not worried at all. It’s a thought. He’s 32. Is he now a box-to-box player for the next four years, on turf fields? I don’t know. I doubt it, a little bit. So that might be a better role over a longer stretch of time. It was good for us to test that out.”
Dempsey, Bradley, Jones, Besler and Rimando were among the new starters in the 4-4-2, joined by Graham Zusi. Bradley played in an attacking role at the top of the midfield diamond.
Minnesota United’s Miguel Ibarra was among the six U.S. substitutes, making his national team debut in the 90th minute. He became the first player to appear for the national team from an American second-division team since at least 2005.
NOTES: The U.S. likely will play Croatia at London’s Craven Cottage on Nov. 12, six days before the Americans face Ireland in Dublin. … The U.S. had eight shots, with only the Altidore goal getting on net. … Rimando made two saves.
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