By Mike Slane, Goal.com
They beat Italy on the road. Then they had a historic win in Mexico.
In Russia, facing the ninth-ranked team in the world, the Americans once again walked away with a memorable result in an international friendly.
The United States ended an impressive streak of exhibition matches in 2012 on a high-note as Jurgen Klinsmann's men bounced back twice to earn a 2-2 draw to Russia at Kuban Stadium in Krasnodar.
Michael Bradley first evened the match in the second half following a Fedor Smolov goal in just the ninth minute. After Russia responded with a Roman Shirokov penalty, Mikkel Diskerud shocked the hosts with a long-range strike in stoppage time.
Klinsmann can be happy with the result heading into 2013, when the U.S. is set to compete in the CONCACAF Hexagonal for a chance to earn a spot in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
"We saw a very entertaining game," Klinsmann said. "Russia proved why they are one of the best teams in Europe, and we wanted to see how good we are against such a strong team."
The U.S. finishes the year with five victories, two draws and only one loss in friendlies, including wins in Italy and Mexico for the first time in the nation's history. In World Cup qualifying, the Americans closed the group stage semis with a 4-1-1 record.
Klinsmann's squad closes the calendar year with the best winning percentage in U.S. Soccer history.
And the Americans were able to accomplish the feat despite being outplayed for most of the match against a resilient Russian side. Playing without veteran attackers Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan, the U.S. was unable to hold on to possession for most of the match and lacked scoring opportunities.
The hosts took advantage of a huge mishap from U.S. midfielder Danny Williams when the youngster handed Russia the ball after taking free kick in his own defensive third. Alexander Kerzhakov picked off the sloppy pass and found Smolov down the right for the goal, causing concern for what might have been a long, cold night.
It wouldn't be the last time the U.S. backline would giveaway a goal and wouldn't be the last time the team responded with a shot from distance.
"The way our team fought back twice after being down a goal was great and it showed a lot of character," Klinsmann said. "This is a young team, and a team that is growing."
In the 76th minute, substitute Juan Agudelo won the ball in the box and played it back to Bradley for a long-range shot that hit the left post before crossing the goal line. But moments after the team began to celebrate, U.S. defender Clarence Goodson took down a Russian attacker in the six-yard box.
Shirokov easily beat goalkeeper Tim Howard and the game appeared over.
That's when Diskerud hit a ball very similar to Bradley's that found the back of the net after taking a nasty defelction. With just seconds remaining, the ref blew the whistle and the Americans ended a very successful year.
"We are pleased with the game overall, and to score in the last minute was great," Klinsmann said.
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