WASHINGTON (AP) — Clint Dempsey scored twice in a five-minute span of the second half and moved into second place on the U.S. career scoring list, helping the Americans edge a second-string Germany team 4-3 in an exhibition game Sunday.
Preparing for three World Cup qualifiers in a 12-day span beginning Friday, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann watched the Americans take a 4-1 lead and hang on to beat the team he helped win the 1990 World Cup as a player and coached to the 2006 semifinals.
In a game commemorating the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Soccer Federation, Jozy Altidore scored his first international goal in 1 1-2 years, and the Americans took a 2-0 first-half lead on an own goal by No. 4 Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who misjudged a backpass from his own defense.
Heiko Westermann cut the deficit for the three-time world champion Germans early in the second half, and Dempsey built a three-goal lead before the Americans’ defensive frailties were exposed when Max Kruse and Julian Draxler scored their first international goals.
The result was a turnaround from Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to a first-string Belgium team in Cleveland.
While the U.S. improved to 3-6 against Germany by beating Die Mannschaft for the first time since 1999, the Germans used just one player who started in their last World Cup qualifier, against Kazakhstan in March. Germany was missing players from Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid.
Fabian Johnson, a German-American starting for the U.S. in midfield instead of left back, was limping by the end of the first half and was replaced by Brad Davis for the second.
The U.S. is preparing for a key stretch of qualifiers: Friday at Jamaica; June 11 against Panama at Seattle; and June 18 versus Honduras at Sandy, Utah. The U.S. (1-1-1) is third in the six-nation final round of North and Central America and the Caribbean with four points, one behind Panama (1-0-2) and trailing Costa Rica (1-1-1) on goal difference. Honduras (1-1-1) is behind the U.S. on goal difference, while Mexico (0-0-3) has three points and Jamaica (0-1-2) two.
The top three nations qualify for next year’s tournament in Brazil, and the No. 4 team faces Oceania champion New Zealand in a home-and-home playoff for another berth.
Klinsmann made four changes to his starting lineup, inserting right back Brad Evans, central defender Matt Besler and midfielders Michael Bradley and Johnson. They replaced right back Geoff Cameron, central defender Clarence Goodson, and midfielders Sacha Kljestan and Davis.
Altidore scored after Dempsey made a run upfield and passed across to Graham Zusi. He one-timed a cross to Altidore, who sent in a right-footed volley from 8 yards after he moved away from defender Per Mertesacker, the only regular in Germany’s lineup.
Altidore, who set a record for Americans in Europe by scoring 31 goals this season for AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands, got his 14th international goal and first from the run of play since June 14, 2011, against Guadeloupe. His only goal since Klinsmann took over had been a penalty kick at Slovenia on Nov. 15, 2011.
With the Americans pressuring high following a goal kick, Benedikt Hoewedes played a backpass to ter Stegen, who allowed the ball to roll off his right foot and into the net. No. 1 keeper Manuel Neuer was in Berlin on Saturday, helping Bayern Munich beat Stuttgart in the German Cup final, and backup Rene Adler played in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Ecuador in Boca Raton, Fla.
Miroslav Klose had a goal called off for offside in the 22nd minute. He remained one short of tying Gerd Mueller’s German national team record of 68.
Westermann scored six minutes into the second half, getting his fourth international goal when he peeled off Omar Gonzalez and had an open header on Kruse’s corner kick. The pair entered at the start of the second half.
Dempsey restored the two-goal lead in the 60th, Jermaine Jones played a long ball to Altidore, who collected it and send a one-hop pass across the field to Dempsey, who scored with a right-footed shot from about 10 yards.
Five minutes later, Dempsey took advantage of Lukas Podolski’s failure to close down his space and scored on a bending, 20-yard left-footed shot. With 35 international goals, he moved one past Eric Wynalda on the American career list and pulled within 14 of Landon Donovan.
Unpressured by Gonzalez and Besler, Kruse beat American goalkeeper Tim Howard from 20 yards in the 78th minute. Draxler scored three minutes later when Howard sprawled to his right and parried Sidney Sam’s long-range shot into Draxler’s path.
Germany next hosts Paraguay in an exhibition Aug. 14, then has World Cup qualifiers against Austria and the Faeroe Islands in September.
NOTES: The U.S. will play Guatemala in an exhibition at San Diego on July 5 ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. … Roberto Moreno of Panama will referee Friday’s World Cup qualifier in Jamaica. Roberto Garcia of Mexico is the referee for the June 11 game and Enrico Wijngaarde of Suriname for the June 18 match. Wijngaarde angered Guatemala during a 2008 qualifier when he called a foul on Carlos Ruiz for kicking Howard on the head, nullifying a goal by Guillermo Rodriguez.