A slightly novice USA Men’s National team defeated Iceland 3-2 in an international friendly on Sunday. Steve Birnbaum scored the winning goal in the 90th minute of play, his first international goal in only his second game representing the Stars and Stripes on the field.

Jozy Altidore of Toronto FC and Michael Orozco of the Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles also scored, keeping a tit-for-tat with the more experienced Iceland team until the final few minutes.

Iceland scored the first goal 12 minutes in with a short-range shot from Kristinn Steindorsson. Ten minutes later, Altidore tied the game 1-1 with a goal after he narrowly dodged a slide from Iceland’s goalie, Ogmundur Kristinsson.

Shortly into the half, Iceland regained the lead at the 48 minute mark with a goal from Aron Sigurdarson, who had been striking hard along the left wing throughout the first half. USA’s defender Michael Orozco tied the game 2-2 in the 59th minute. The Xolos defender made the play with an assist from Steve Birnbaum.

Steve Birnbaum then scored a game-winning header in the 2 minutes of extra time, assisted from a kick from Ethan Bradley. Jerome Kiesewetter helped create the play by drawing a foul, a result of repeated aggressive drives from the right wing during the second half.  

An Experimental Team

Despite the win, USA men acknowledge they have a lot to work on as their 2016 camp gets underway. Altidore told reporters that he hadn’t played his best. Altidore created a lot of chances during the game, and might have scored another goal or two if he’d been fully integrated with his teammates. That’s a hard ask after just a few days of practice and months since playing with them.

“You try ten times and you’re expected to score [...] that’s life [....] It was a good ball from Michael [Bradley],” he told reporters, adding also that the team was just getting started and the fusion just being found. “Obviously we not, myself or anybody, as sharp as you want to be in the first game of the year. Everyone is coming off of a couple of months of holidays.”

Altidore is focused on the long game, trying to prevent mishaps that took him out of the 2014 World Cup (a pulled hamstring) and 2011 CONCAF Gold Cup (another pulled hamstring).

“The biggest thing for me is health, trying to [maintain] my health and try to keep my injuries to a minimum because I think that’s hurt me in the past,” he said.

In response to a question about defensive mistakes made in the game, Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann told reporters that he was unconcerned at such an early stage in the team’s season. In the past, Klinsmann has been criticized for being overcritical early in the season. But on Sunday he chalked up some of the sloppy play to lack of practice, not effort.

“We’re not concerned with any of it because they’re literally in preseason, in training for three weeks. We told them ‘you’re going to make mistakes today -- it’s not going to go smooth.’ [Those] mistakes led, unfortunately, to two goals,” he said, with a bit of a chuckle.

One of USA’s biggest goals for the day was to audition new team members, four of whom got their first minutes in an international game. As Columbus Crew SC midfielder Tony Tchani spoke to reporters, a member of the staff handed him a square piece of paper documenting his first substitution in an international game.

Tchani was proud to have played for his adopted country (Tchani came to the U.S. from his native Cameroon when he was 17 and recently became a citizen), and looked forward to the rest of the camp.

“I’m pretty hard on myself, but getting the feedback will be [good],” he said. “You only need a few minutes to prove what you’re capable of.”

The USA Men’s National team will play again at StubHub Center on Friday when they face off against Canada.