Julian Green found the net for the U.S. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
LYON, France — A 44th-minute goal from Julian Green helpoed boost the U.S. men’s national team to a 1-1 draw against seventh-ranked France 1-1 Saturday night.
The Americans took the field with a Starting XI that averaged 22-years-old, but held strong in difficult conditions to earn a result against one of the world’s top teams. The goal and the result marked firsts for the United States in its all-time series against France, which stands at 0-3-1.
Heading into a summer break, the USMNT has compiled a 2-1-3 record since October, including a 1-1 draw on the road against then third-ranked Portugal.
Saturday’s Starting XI included seven players who have made their USMNT senior team debut in that span, while 17 players earned their first caps. The French had seven starters who had won a UEFA Champions League title, domestic league title, Cup title, or combination thereof this season in England, France, Spain or Italy.
While France dominated possession for most of the first half, the U.S. threatened on runs up the wings by outside backs Antonee Robinson and Shaq Moore. Just before the end of the first half, Bobby Wood dished to Moore on the right side. He took a touch and sped past his marker before launching a through ball into the box. French defender Djibril Sidibe got to it first, Julian Green pounced on his lose touch and first-timed a shot between Sidibe’s legs and past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris inside the near post for his first goal since Oct. 11, 2016 against New Zealand.
Man of the atch and goalkeeper Zack Steffen made yet another star turn, making seven saves to thwart the vaunted French front line, and a physical defense helped the Americans keep a lid on France’s attack. Robinson was a standout on the left side, while center backs Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tim Parker and Matt Miazga made numerous tackles to halt scoring opportunities. Parker plays for the Red Bulls, while Miazga once did.
The stout defensive effort kept Les Bleus scoreless well into the second half. Miazga had anchored the center of the five-man back line in the opening 45 minute, but a nasty head-to-head challenge with Olivier Giroud on an early second-half corner forced Erik Palmer-Brown into replacement duty for the Vitesse player. The former U-20 MNT captain performed admirably in Miazga’s stead as the USA hung tough.
Les Bleus finally broke through in the 78th minute. After a series of close calls in the box, France intercepted a U.S. clearance. Some patient passing broke Nabil Fekir free on a run towards the corner of the box. He dished to Benjamin Pavard on the right wing, who slotted a cross to Mbappé in front of the net. The Paris Saint-Germain forward one-touched it to the far post for the equalizer.
Buoyed by the home crowd, France pressed for a game-winner until the final whistle, but the young Americans, bolstered by veteran substitutes DeAndre Yedlin and Jorge Villafaña, battened down the hatches and got a phenomenal double save from Steffen on the last kicks of the ball to secure the result.