ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - MARCH 31: Brek Shea of the USA celebrates his scored goal with teammate Timmy Chandler during the international friendly match between Switzerland and the United States at Stadium Letzigrund on March 31, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)

For the sixth time in eight games, the United States men’s national team gave away a win in the last half hour of play on Tuesday, having to settle for a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in Zurich. [Slideshow: Switzerland vs. United States in pictures ] In their most cohesive and composed performance in months, the Americans were the better team for much of their contest against one of Europe’s most promising young sides – which did make six lineup changes after a Euro qualifier on Friday. The USA created the bulk of the chances, exploiting Switzerland’s mistakes with swift and savvy breakaways, but lost the firm grip on the game when Jozy Altidore was sent off in the 68th minute. [FC Yahoo: Switzerland vs. USA as it happened in Zurich ] It was not, however, sparkling soccer. In fact, it looked a lot like the sort of game plans the U.S. has deployed for decades – organize well, absorb pressure, counter-attack. In that regard, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who was appointed to upgrade and innovate that rudimentary brand of soccer, is showing few signs of delivering. Certainly, he is rebuilding in a post World Cup year, but the performance in the recent string of games had been disconcerting, even if you dismissed the results for having come in friendlies. At the very least, the Yanks looked like a team on Tuesday. And it took them just a quarter of an hour to forge their first real chance. On a breakaway, Alejandro Bedoya found Gyasi Zardes at the far post with his high cross, but the young forward seemed undecided between heading or volleying the ball and wound up slicing it into the stands. Just before the half hour, Altidore played Bedoya through the line, who squared for Michael Bradley inside the box. But the first-time captain couldn’t get his weight over the ball and skied it over the bar with his left foot. Five minutes later, Brek Shea marauded forward from his left back position once again and bounced a high cross to Bedoya in the box, but the winger couldn’t get enough oomph on his header to trouble goalkeeper Roman Burki. The much-maligned USA defense had a first shaky moment in the 39th minute, when right back Timmy Chandler totally lost track of Xherdan Shaqiri. The Inter Milan winger gladly strode into the vast space that had been abandoned and sent a low cross into Admir Mehmedi. But the latter, with a totally open net gaping just a yard or two in front of him, somehow stepped over the ball and spared the Americans. The U.S. capitalized on the brink of half-time, when Shea swerved a splendid free kick from just outside the box over the wall into the near top corner of the goal. That made it nine straight games in which the Americans have scored in the first half, and the seventh time in that stretch that they secured a half-time lead – although they have won just two of those. Right after the break, Zardes had something of a chance, when he won a header on a badly cleared Chandler cross, but nodded it just wide. And then, in the 68th minute, Altidore committed a foul and then seemed to say something unkind to the referee, whom he had been verbally sparring with all game, which got him sent off. Reduced to 10 men, the USA would have to face its demons head-up. Going back to June 1 of last year, the Americans had given up 13 goals in the 80th minute or later in their last 14 games, prior to Tuesday’s affair. Soon enough, the Swiss offensive came barreling down on the Americans full bore. Goalkeeper William Yarbrough, making his debut, made a fine save on Switzerland’s 18-year-old Breel Embolo, a fellow debutant, when he whipped in a sharp cross. But the cracks were showing. Pajtim Kasami was left wide open for a far-post header a foot from goal but couldn’t get his finish down enough. Switzerland continued to threaten. And then, in the 80th minute the Swiss got the goal they deserved on the strength of their second half. Poor coverage on a corner resulted in a rebound rolling free to Valentin Stocker in the goal mouth. He wasn’t marked well either and allowed to poke the ball past Yarbrough from close range, having been left onside by Chandler. That made it 14 goals conceded in the 80th minute in the last 15 games. So the Americans’ disconcerting inability to close out games reared its monstrous head yet again. But it shouldn’t be allowed to obscure the hour that came before it, when the Americans finally showed that they can still play a solid game of soccer. Provided they finish it with 11 men. Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet .

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