Birnbaum, U.S. men push past Iceland
CARSON, Calif. — Steve Birnbaum headed home the tiebreaking goal on Michael Bradley's corner kick in the 90th minute, and the U.S. men's national team opened its 2016 schedule with a 3-2 exhibition victory over Iceland on Sunday.
Jozy Altidore and Michael Orozco scored tying goals before Birnbaum knocked in the late winner to cap an entertaining start to the Americans' season.
Orozco's header evened it in the 59th minute of the Americans' first game back from a rough 2015 that included a 2-5-1 finish.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann's team is preparing for World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala in March, and he fielded a lineup mixing World Cup veterans with four players making their U.S. debuts.
Birnbaum, a Southern California native playing for D.C. United, had a goal and an assist in his second U.S. appearance.
Bradley had two assists, and Jordan Morris created some excitement as a second-half substitute.
Kristinn Steindorsson and Aron Sigurdarson scored for Iceland under intermittent rain showers and wind at StubHub Center south of downtown Los Angeles.
With many regulars still playing in Europe, Iceland fielded a starting lineup with just four players who participated in Euro 2016 qualifying, when the team became the smallest nation ever to qualify for the tournament.
The Americans spent January in a Carson training camp split between players on the senior team and under-23 prospects. The seniors have a busy year including World Cup qualifiers and the Copa America this summer, while the youngsters must attempt to qualify for the Rio Olympics in March with a two-leg qualifier against Colombia.
Defender Kellyn Acosta and midfielder Ethan Finlay made their U.S. debuts in the starting lineup. The 20-year-old Acosta is a homegrown FC Dallas prospect, while the 25-year-old Finlay is a Columbus Crew regular.
The Crew's Tony Tchani also made his U.S. debut as a substitute for Jermaine Jones in the 71st minute, and 22-year-old Jerome Kiesewetter followed for his own debut. Goalkeeper Luis Robles made his first U.S. appearance since 2009.
Iceland scored in the 13th minute when Steindorsson's shot deflected off Orozco and caught Robles diving the wrong way. Steindorsson, who played 21 games for Columbus last season, has scored a goal in each of his first two matches for Iceland's senior team.
The U.S. evened it seven minutes later when Gyasi Zardes set up Bradley for a deft pass through to Altidore. The veteran striker deposited his 32nd career goal, just two behind Eric Wynalda for third place in U.S. history.
Early in the second half, Iceland caught the Americans napping and complaining to the referee with a quick restart off a stoppage, but Sigurdarson still showed impressive skill in curling a long shot past Robles.
The Americans evened it off a setpiece with Altidore finding Birnbaum for a header to Orozco.
The U.S. men have another friendly at StubHub Center against Canada on Friday night.