ZURICH (AP) _ The United States held on for 1-1 draw with Switzerland in an international friendly on Tuesday after veteran forward Jozy Altidore was sent off.
Brek Shea’s curling free-kick gave the Americans a deserved goal on the stroke of halftime, and yet another lead to take into a second period.
But the trend of coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s team to concede late goals continued after Altidore got a straight red card in the 68th minute for verbal abuse directed at Italian referee Luca Banti. Altidore, who later issued an apology, reacted on being shown a yellow card for a foul.
“It is unfortunate, but it happened,” said Klinsmann, who played for Inter Milan. He said he reminded his players at halftime “never joke with an Italian referee.”
Swiss pressure paid off in the 80th when substitute Valentin Stocker scored from just two meters (yards) past debutant goalkeeper William Yarbrough.
The U.S. has now been outscored 12-1 in the second half of matches since the World Cup.
“It might be a theme but it’s not a problem,” Klinsmann said. “Overall it was a very good team performance. I saw a lot of, lot of good stuff from the players.”
A leveler had seemed increasingly inevitable, and five minutes earlier another Swiss substitute, Pajtim Kasami, header over an open goal from close range.
The U.S. also escaped in the 79th when an attempted clearance by defender John Brooks rolled just wide of his own goal.
Stocker struck when the ball dropped to his feet after two U.S. defenders challenged for a left-wing cross, leaving him unmarked in front of goal.
The Americans never threatened Switzerland’s goal after Altidore’s rush of blood midway through the second half, first fouling left-back Francois Moubandje.
“I want to apologize to our fans and my teammates,” Altidore said in a statement issued through the U.S. Soccer Federation. “Emotion got the best of me and I put our team in a tough position. That’s not the type of role model I want to be. All credit to the boys for grinding it out and earning a positive result.”
Earlier, Shea’s strike was out of character with a first half of miscues in front of goal.
Though the U.S. was the better side, Switzerland was responsible for the best chance and most glaring miss in the 39th.
Xherdan Shaqiri was freed down the left wing by a raking, diagonal pass from Fabian Frei and the playmaker’s pass across the goalmouth was met with an air kick by Admir Mehmedi from four meters (yards).
All the Americans’ best work involved Alejandro Bedoya exploiting Moubandje, playing just his third international match.
Twice Bedoya crossed invitingly from the right, but Gyasi Zardes blazed a left-foot volley high and wide in the 15th and Michael Bradley fired well over in the 26th when the Nantes winger cut the ball back from the byline.
Bedoya drew a rare save from Swiss goalkeeper Roman Buerki in the 32nd, darting in front of Moubandje to loop a header toward goal from Shea’s bouncing cross.
Swiss star Shaqiri mostly drifted out of the game and blazed a long-range shot too high after collecting goalkeeper Nick Rimando’s poor clearance in the 17th.
“(Shaqiri) can hurt you badly in a second so we closed him down,” Klinsmann said.
Buerki’s footwork was unimpressive for Shea’s goal and the keeper was at fault again in the 49th, failing to challenge Zardes for a header which bounced wide of the goal.
At the other end, Yarborough made his international debut as a halftime substitute.
Teenager Breel Embolo came on in the 55th for his Switzerland debut after the Cameroon-born forward got FIFA clearance last week to play for the country where he grew up.