After enduring a tentative opening half in his first start for the U.S. Men’s National Team, New York City FC defender Ben Sweat and his nascent teammates settled in to earn a 1-1 draw in an international friendly versus Peru on Tuesday night in East Hartford, Connecticut.
“It was up and down in the first half, we had a bunch of new guys out together,” Sweat told WADO’s Roberto Abramowitz after his 90-minute performance. “We had some careless mistakes myself included in the first half. We stuck together we kept it at 0-0 (at the half).”
Sweat was part of a back four which had accumulated a total of six caps entering the match. Center back Aaron Long of the New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas defender Reggie Cannon were making their international debuts. 20-year old Cameron Carter-Vickers was the veteran anchor at the back with five caps.
“A bunch of guys had that same anxious feeling and wanted to get into the game,” Sweat said. “We knew Peru was going to come out and play fast just like Colombia and be really good on the ball just like Colombia. I think we had our moments and at the end of it we grinded through the first half.”
18-year old Josh Sargent opened the scoring just four minutes into the second half for the U.S. but the Americans were denied the triumph on an Edison Flores equalizer four minutes before time.
“I think everybody had a phenomenal second half,” Sweat said. “Once we got into the game we played pretty good football. We got some good buildup. The passes, the touches it was all sharper as the game went on.”
And the defending side was superior compared to the 4-2 loss against Colombia five days earlier when Sweat made his international debut as the second half substitute.
“We worked our butts off,” Sweat said. “We defended really well.”
On the attacking side, Sweat had a first-time strike with his non-dominant right foot in the second half. The shot was on target but blocked before reaching the goal.
“Anyone with a strong foot wishes they could have it on their strong foot,” he said. “I tried to keep it low and keep it on frame and see what happens.”
On Wednesday, the Florida native will travel back to New York to begin preparations for an important MLS match on Sunday at D.C. United. He leaves the USMNT camp with confidence and anticipation.
“I think I earned the guys’ respect and my spot within the group,” Sweat said. “I made a positive impact and got better day in and day out. I had a pretty good debut, trainings after that were good and I made a positive impact tonight.”