Steve Birnbaum (#15) scored the game-winning goal in the USA's victory over visiting Iceland in an international friendly on January 31, 2016, in Carson, California. (Photo: Michael Jonosz/isiphotos.com)
CARSON, California -- Defender Steve Birnbaum scored his first international goal in the 90th minute to boost the United States to a 3-2 comeback win over Iceland in an international friendly on Sunday at the StubHub Center.
The result extended the Americans’ unbeaten streak to three straight games and improved their record against the European side to 3W-2D-2L.
Birnbaum, making his second international appearance as a halftime substitute for Brad Evans, headed in from seven yards off a right-sided free kick by U.S. captain Michael Bradley to snap a 2-2 deadlock.
Iceland took a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute when midfielder Kristinn Steindorsson's deflected shot hit off Michael Orozco and past goalkeeper Luis Robles, who was playing in his first game for the USA since the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Striker Jozy Altidore equalized in the 20th minute off some nifty passing. After being found on the left by Jermaine Jones, Gyasi Zardes one-touched a pass into the middle for Bradley. The 28-year-old midfielder, positioned 30 yards from goal, took a control the ball before delivering a pin-point pass into the penalty area for his Toronto FC teammate Altidore to first-time with his left foot past charging goalkeeper Ogmundur Kristinsson from nine-yards out.
Three minutes into the second half, Iceland caught the U.S. on a quick restart after a foul as Aron Sigurdarson beat Robles with a curling effort from the top-right corner of the box.
The Americans again pushed for the tying goal and found it in the 59th minute. Altidore gained possession of a corner kick near the top-left corner of the box and delivered a diagonal ball to the top of the six-yard box, where Birnbaum headed it to an unmarked Orozco for a simple header at the goal line.
Forward Jerome Kiesewetter, the Golden Boot winner at the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, defender Kellyn Acosta, as well as midfielders Ethan Finlay and Tony Tchani, made their international debuts for the USA.
The U.S. will return to action on Friday, when it hosts Canada at the same venue.
January 31, 2016: StubHub Center – Carson, California, USA (Att: 8,803)
USA 3 (Jozy Altidore 20’; Michael Orozco 59’; Steve Birnbaum 90’)
Iceland 2 (Kristinn Steindorsson 13’; Aron Sigurdarson 48’)
USA: Luis Robles; Brad Evans (Steve Birnbaum 46’), Michael Orozco, Matt Besler, Kellyn Acosta, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones (Tony Tchani 71’), Ethan Finlay (Darlington Nagbe 61’), Lee Nguyen, Gyasi Zardes (Jerome Kiesewetter 75’), Jozy Altidore (Jordan Morris, 75’) Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
Iceland: Ogmundur Kristinsson; Birkir Mar Saevarsson, Hallgrimur Jonasson (Hjortur Hermannsson 46’), Jon Gudni Fjoluson, Ari Freyr Skulason (Aevar Ingi Johannesson 84’); Aron Sigurdarson, Gudmundur Thorarinsson (Diego Johannesson 46’), Runar Mar Sigurjonsson, Kristinn Steindorsson (Aron Elis Thrandarson 46’); Arnor Smarason, Eidur Gudjohnsen (Kjartan Henry Finnbogason 71’) Head coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson and Lars Lagerback
R: Jeffrey Solis (Costa Rica); AR1: Warner Castro (Costa Rica); AR2: Carlos Fernandez (Costa Rica);
4th: Ricardo Montero (Costa Rica)