Julian Green scored in the 44th minute and a young United States team held on against tremendous pressure to tie World Cup-bound France 1-1 Saturday night at Lyon.
Kylian Mbappe tied the score in the 78th minute for Les Bleus, who outshot the Americans 19-2. The French had been 3-0 against the U.S. in prior meetings, outscoring the Americans 10-0, but 23-year-old Zack Steffen made seven saves in his third international appearance, a standout performance that could help him in the competition to succeed Tim Howard as the team’s No. 1 goalkeeper.
The U.S. started just one player with 10 previous international appearances and all were 25 or younger. At 22 years, 183 days, the lineup’s average age was the second-youngest since records began in 1990.
Green scored against Belgium in extra time in the second round of the 2014 World Cup but largely disappeared over the next few years and the 23-year-old midfielder spent last season with second-tier Greuther Fuerth in Germany. Making his first start since October 2016, he got his fourth goal in 10 international appearances.
Shaq Moore exchanged passes with Bobby Wood, and the 21-year-old Moore made a run down the right flank and crossed past Benjamin Mendy. Djibril Sidibe’s left-footed clearance attempt did not go far, and Green ran onto the bouncing ball, spun his right leg and from 9 yards sent the ball between Sidibe’s legs, beating goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to the near post with a one-hopper.
French players were booed and whistled by the crowd as they walked off the field at the half.
Wood nearly doubled the lead in the 48th minute, getting ahead of Raphael Varane to tap in a cross from Moore, but the goal was disallowed for offside.
French forward Olivier Giroud and American defender Matt Miazga left in the 59th minute after a clash of heads that caused both to be down for several minutes, and Mbappe nearly tied the score with a curling free kick from an angle in the 69th after a foul by Moore.
Mbappe got his fourth goal in 15 appearances when he got to Benjamin Pavard’s cross ahead of Cameron Carter-Vickers, who fell to the ground.
The French nearly went ahead in stoppage time when Ousmane Dembele’s cross hit Tyler Adams in the face, forcing goalkeeper Zack Steffen to acrobatically push the ball over the crossbar. Steffen made a diving save to his right to block Nabil Fekir’s shot in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time, then reached back to deflect Dembele’s effort off the rebound.
Absent from the World Cup for the first time since 1986, the Americans again wore jerseys with rainbow numbers to celebrate Pride Month. They are 2-1-3 under interim coach Dave Sarachan, who replaced Bruce Arena after the loss at Trinidad and Tobago last October eliminated the U.S. in qualifying. The Americans likely will play next against Brazil on Sept. 7 at East Rutherford, New Jersey.
France, the 1998 champion, opens against Australia on June 16, meets Peru five days later and closes the first round versus Denmark on June 26.