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USMNT ignite to beat Azerbaijan 2-0

After a lackluster first half, the USMNT caught fire. They bested Azerbaijan on the backs of Mix Diskerud and Aron Johannsson.

Jurgen Klinsmann smiles after the US victory over Azerbaijan
Jurgen Klinsmann smiles after the US victory over Azerbaijan
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The US Men’s National took on Azerbaijan in an international friendly days after finalizing their 23 man World Cup roster.

Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann formed his back line around center backs Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron, with Damarcus Beasley and Fabian Johnson taking up the wings. This lineup came to fruition after weeks of speculation about the viability of our defensive assets.

But for this game, it was not the defensive line, but the offense that was lacking in pizazz. The team did not have the fire that would be expected from a group days away from Brazil. Jozy Altidore made several attempts to poach goals, but was intercepted every time by Ajerbaijan’s wary back line. Azebaijan made brief forays into the US side, but seemed content to "park the bus" and hold off the USMNT.

A lineup change was made at the last moment before the game began. Captain Clint Dempsey, slated to play forward, was replaced by Chris Wondolowski.

Chris Wondolowski hit the ground running, despite limited warmup time. He got his first look at the goal three minutes into the first half. Wide open, Wondolowski lasered a header towards the net off of a precise free kick taken by Graham Zusi. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan’s keeper easily intercepted the attempt. His second attempt came off a thrown in, another header that was swatted away by the keeper.

Both teams were scoreless at the end of the first half. To start the second half, Klinsmann brought on Gonzalez, Chandler and Brad Davis. Zusi had a spectacular game. Throughout the game, he made sprinting runs to the corner flag and crossed across the face of the goal, always finding a red jersey. Despite this, Brad Davis saw significant minutes.

Perhaps it is my own love for the Houston Dynamo captain speaking, but the game seemed to take on a whole new sense of urgency with Davis on the field. Davis immediately drew a controversial foul call on the goal box line. The official ruled it as outside the box and awarded a free kick instead of a penalty kick. Michael Bradley overshot the kick that resulted, leaving the US scoreless again.

Mix Diskerud put the US on the scoreboard in the 74th minute. Brad Davis shot a free kick into the crowd, drawing a series of US shots against keeper Agayev. At last, Mix Diskerud found an opening brought the US into the lead. Davis again proved himself to be the offensive fulcrum in the 80th minute when he delivered a perfect corner kick onto the forehead of Aron Johannsson, who urged it into the back of the net to make the score 2-0.

The USMNT team will face Turkey and Nigeria before departing to Brazil for the World Cup.

USMNT: Howard, Johnson (Yedli), Cameron (Gonzalez), Besler, Beasley (Chandler); Zusi (Davis), Jones, Bradley, Bedoya (Diskerud); Wondolowski (Johannsson), Altidore

Azerbaijan: Agayev, Ramaldanov, Mahir Sukurov (Qirtimov), Budak, Yunuszada; Dzavadov (Nazarov), Garayev, Abishov (Guseynov), Abatsiyev; Dadasov (Azad), Aliyev