The United States won't be overly pleased with how they played in the first match of their Send-Off Series, but they did beat Azerbaijan, 2-0, so they are at least off on the right foot results-wise as they begin their march to the World Cup. Mix Diskerud and Aron Johannsson came off the bench to score second-half goals and earn U.S. the win at a half-empty Candlestick Park in San Francisco, CA.
Jurgen Klinsmann said earlier that the match that Azerbaijan, ranked 85th in the world, was supposed to be a chance for the U.S. to ease their way into the Send-Off Series after a long and tough training camp, but their play in the first half still fell below expectations.
Chris Wondolowski -- who started after Clint Dempsey suffered a groin injury in warm-ups and was scratched -- had a golden chance minutes into the match, but his header was directly at the goalkeeper. Wondolowski had another chance tipped over the bar and Alejandro Bedoya got a decent shot away that forced a save, but that was all the Americans could manage in the first half. They were sloppy, unimaginative and even allowed Azerbaijan a couple chances in a 45 minutes to forget.
Klinsmann made a couple changes to start the second half, none of which made a bigger impact than the introduction of Brad Davis. The midfielder was tidy with the ball and ran at the Azerbaijan defense, causing them real problems for the first time all match.
In the 71st minute, Klinsmann also brought Diskerud off the bench, and four minutes later he was on the scoresheet. First, he challenged for a ball in the box, then he was able to pounce on a loose ball in the box and knocked the ball home from three yards to finally give the U.S. a lead.
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Diskerud's goal was deserved as the U.S. had grabbed a hold of the match, but it's not as if they were great. Still, once they got the first goal, their energy picked up, and six minutes later they had a second tally. Johannsson was completely unmarked on a corner kick and was able to head home well from six yards, putting the U.S. up 2-0 and wrapping up a win in windy San Francisco.
The U.S. has a lot of work left to do, and getting Dempsey back will certainly help, but at least they won. In their last three Send-Off Series they had failed to win their opening match, so at least they have gotten started down the right path for once.
United States: Howard, Johnson (Yedlin 62'), Cameron (Gonzalez 45'), Beasley (Chandler 45'), Jones, Zusi (Davis 45'), Bedoya (Diskerud 71'), Bradley, Wondolowski (Johannsson 62'), Altidore.
Goals: Diskerud 75', Johannsson 81'.
Azerbaijan: Agayev, Ramaldanov, Sukurov (Qirtimov 45'), Budak, Yunuszada, Dzavadov (Nazarov 60'), Garayev, Abishov (Guseynov 45'), Abatsiyev (Medvedev 71'), Dadasov (Fardjad-Azad 66'), Aliyev.