It wasn't always pretty, it could be called lucky and they still have their problems, but the United States has a win and after a rocky start to the Jurgen Klinsmann era, they are happy to have the result. Goals by Edson Buddle, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore proved to be enough for the Americans to win 3-2, who just barely held on in the second half as Slovenia poured on the pressure.
Buddle broke the U.S. goal drought just nine minutes in when he hopped on a loose ball and ripped a 20-yard shot off of the post and in. The goal was created by pressure from Clint Dempsey, who pushed high and forced a giveaway from the Slovenia defense. The ball fell to Buddle, who showed no hesitation is letting his shot go and the Americans were in front early.
That lead didn't last for long though as Tim Matavz made his mark. The PSV striker broke through the high line that the U.S. defense was playing and he was in alone on goal. He left Tim Howard no chance with a good finish and Slovenia was level.
As quickly as Slovenia equalized though, the U.S. grabbed the lead back. Slovenia has been poor defending set pieces lately and the U.S. was all too happy to take advantage of it. Dempsey got free from his mark on a corner kick and was able to head home the go-ahead goal.
The U.S. wasn't done though. Minutes after putting the U.S. in front, Fabian Johnson got in behind the Slovenia defense and was clipped on the heel. He went down to the grass and the referee had no choice but to point to the spot. Alitodre took the penalty and took it well, sending the keeper the wrong way with a good, hard shot to make it 3-1 in favor of the U.S. at halftime.
The second half looked nothing like the first though. Slovenia just flew forward and the U.S. was helpless to stop them. Playing in a diamond midfield with a bad back line, the Americans were in trouble and it took them 30 minutes into the second half before they made a change. That meant that for a half hour, the U.S. goal was under attack.
Matavz was at the center of it all for Slovenia. First, Slovenia hit the bar and that ball fell to Matavz, who had his ball cleared off the line. A follow up shot forced Howard to save it before it was finally cleared. Slovenia came right back though and Matavz rattled the bar himself with a great shot.
There was no way Matavz was going to be denied a third time though. He nodded the ball down for a teammate before make a good run, receiving the ball, leaving Kyle Beckerman in his wake and finishing to cut the U.S. lead to one.
The rest of the match was just an exercise in hanging on for the U.S. As the Slovenians pushed forward, the U.S. just tried to keep them out. A bad late foul by Carlos Bocanegra gave the Slovenians one more chance, but the free kick went over the bar and the U.S. got themselves a 3-2 win away in Europe.
It wasn't the prettiest of matches and they certainly have a lot to work on. The back line is a mess and playing a diamond midfield in front of them is questionable at best, but after the first six matches under Klinsmann resulted in just one win, getting a win in Slovenia is a big deal. It's a boost that the U.S. will take into 2012 when World Cup qualifying begins and the matches get serious.