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Friendlies

  • January 21, 2012
  • • 9:10 PM
  • • University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
  • Referee: R. García Orozco
  • • Attendance: 30000
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USA 1-0 Venezuela: Ricardo Clark scores in the 97th minute to lead the 'B' team

USA 1-0 Venezuela: Ricardo Clark scores in the 97th minute to lead the 'B' team

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It was a frustrating game for Jurgen Klinsmann's squad before Clark became the hero with a header off a Jermaine Jones corner kick.

PHOENIX -- Glancing at the U.S. team's roster it would be easy to see that Jurgen Klinsmann brought his 'B' squad in the first of a pair of January friendlies.

But the good news was that Venezuela left its best players at home as well.

With a squad filled of mostly MLS players, including three starters earning their first national team cap, the U.S. managed to walk away with a 1-0 win over Venezuela thanks to a last-minute goal from Ricardo Clark at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Without the likes of Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Tim Howard, Klinsmann recorded his third win as the team's head coach following Clark's header off a corner kick in the 97th minute of a game the U.S. dominated offensively from start to finish.

"We sent them on the field with very specific guidance to take charge of the game," Klinsmann said of his players. "Push it high up and be confident. More forward."

The U.S. was without many starters as most European-based players stayed with their clubs. The main exception was Jermaine Jones, who was named captain despite being suspended in the Bundesliga for eight matches after intentionally stomping on an opponent's injured foot last month. 

Aside from MLS strikers Alejandro Moreno and Emilio Renteria, coach Cesar Farias called in an entirely domestic-based roster for Venezuela, which didn't provide any problems for the U.S.

Teal Bunbury had the first real opportunity of the night in the 19th minute when he fired from just outside the box only to have his shot sail over the goal. And just seconds later, Benny Feilhaber played a perfectly placed through-ball to Brek Shea, who shot just wide to the left.

Shea and the U.S. continued to apply the pressure early on, with a Shea header off a long free kick forcing goalkeeper Leonardo Moralesto to make a nice diving save in the 23rd minute.

But it all meant nothing since the U.S. would end a first half scoreless for the sixth time in eight games under Klinsmann.

"I think we handled the first half fairly well," said Moreno, who plays for Chivas USA. "In the second half we lost a little bit of the possession and it became a little harder on us."

The beginning of the second half lacked excitement as the United States' frustration continued. It wasn't until a 4-on-3 counterattack in the 63rd minute that the team would have another real scoring opportunity, but Bunbury's shot would hit the side of the net.

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To get some fresh legs up front on the pitch, Klinsmann brought on MLS Rookie of the Year C.J. Sapong for the young striker's first appearance with the national team. He was the fourth American to earn his first cap on the night.

However, like his more experienced teammates, Sapong provided an offensive push but was unable to find the net. It appeared as though the Americans were going to walk away with a draw in a game they should have easily won.

That was until Jones found Clark off a corner kick right before the final whistle. Clark, who had a poor showing in the last World Cup, was left wide open in the box as he headed the ball in for the victory.

The U.S. team will look to build off its win when it takes on Panama in Panama City on Wednesday.

"Now they get another difficult experience in Panama," Klinsmann said. "Those are the games we need to play."

Marc Serber (@soccerserber) of usfutblog.com contributed reporting to this article

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