United States forward Gyasi Zardes declared his sense of belonging with the national team increased significantly after scoring against “the best international team I’ve played”.
Zardes struck the USA’s first goal – and his first at international level – in their stunning 4-3 victory away to Netherlands on Friday, with the visitors scoring three goals in the final 20 minutes to triumph.
The friendly was Zardes’ sixth match for his country and the Los Angeles Galaxy striker underlined the importance of opening his international account.
After Klaas-Jan Huntelaar put the hosts in front in the 27th minute with a header, Zardes levelled for the Americans six minutes later, getting his toe on Fabian Johnson’s cross at the back post.
“[My comfort level] rises a ton scoring a goal in this game, on this stage,” the 23-year-old said. “Especially getting a goal like that, to get your team back in the game – it’s amazing.
“This is probably the best international team I’ve played. To step on the pitch and prove myself against guys who have been playing for top clubs in Europe is an amazing experience, and a learning experience, as well.”
The stunning comeback was the USA’s first victory over the Dutch in five meetings with Daniel Williams and Bobby Wood hitting the back of the net in the 89th and 90th minutes, respectively, to clinch the win.
“It was a team performance, we gave our all and it showed,” Zardes said.
“We never gave up, even when we were 3-1 down. We came back and showed our character and showed that we belonged on the pitch for the full 90
Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA have another friendly in Europe on Wednesday against their coach’s home country Germany, while their CONCACAF Gold Cup preparations will end against Guatemala at home on July 3.
The USA will co-host the Gold Cup with Canada, and they will open their defence of the continental title against Honduras on July 7.