BY ADAM SERRANO
CARSON, Calif. — There were plenty of lessons to be learned on Friday as the U.S. men's national team soundly defeated the U.S. Under-23s, 4-0, in a scrimmage at Home Depot Center.
Chris Wondolowski opened the scoring midway through the first half before Benny Feilhaber doubled the lead for senior squad moments later. Shortly after the second goal, Teal Bunbury capitalized on a turnover by Jared Jeffrey to score the third goal for the senior squad. Bunbury's teammate with Sporting Kansas City, Graham Zusi tallied the final goal of the match for the senior team.
Following the scrimmage, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann admitted that the match was an extremely valuable measuring tool for evaluating his players as the team heads into in the final week of preparations for friendlies against Venezuela and Panama.
"This scrimmage gives us how comfortable they are on the field, how they shift, how they take the guidelines that we gave them and implement them," said Klinsmann. "Now, we can read the players a bit better…We knew about their personal capabilities, but not in the context of the team so that's why we need these games to see that then we can go ahead and modify our training sessions."
Although the scoreline was far from flattering, U.S. Under-23 head coach Caleb Porter believed his side performed well against Klinsmann's group.
"We learned that the way that we trained has begun to take shape. We worked a lot on the attacking and possession as well as ball circulation and movement," said Porter. "For large sections of the match, we controlled the tempo and the rhythm, but there is a balance to that as well because you need to get some penetration from possession and continue to show a killer instinct in the final third."
The two teams will face off again on January 17th.
Lineups and Notes from the scrimmage:
Senior team: Nick Rimando (Bill Hamid 45'); Zach Loyd, Michael Parkhurst, Geoff Cameron (AJ DeLaGarza 45'), Heath Pearce (Jeff Parke 45'); Graham Zusi, Benny Feilhaber (Brad Evans 45'), Jeff Larentowicz (Ricardo Clark 45'), Brek Shea; Chris Wondolowski (CJ Sapong 45') Juan Agudelo (Teal Bunbury 30')
Under-23s: Zac MacMath (Sean Johnson 45'); Josh Gatt (Sheanon Williams 45'), Zarek Valentin (Royal-Dominique Fennell 45'), Andrew Wenger (Sebastien Ibeagha 45'), Kofi Sarkodie (Jorge Villafana 45'); Amobi Okugo (Michael Stephens 45'), Jared Jeffery (Sebastian Lletget 45'), Mix Diskerud (Isaac Acuna 45'); Freddy Adu (Kelyn Rowe 45'), Jack McInerney (Josh Gatt 66'), Dilly Duka (Tony Taylor 45')
Finishing eluded Porter's men throughout the match. Although the U-23 squad was able to control the first 25 minutes of the match, they routinely saw their chances go wide of net. Jeffrey had the finest chance of the evening for the U-23s firing a shot from 30 yards out just wide of Rimando's net.
Brek Shea was the most dominating performer throughout the course of the match as he challenged the U-23's backline. Shea is one of four members of the senior squad — Agudelo and Bunbury and Hamid being the others — who are eligible for selection to the Olympic squad. The FC Dallas attacker played some part in each of the senior squad's four goals and sent in the cross that led to Zusi's goal at the end of the first half. Following the match, Porter admitted that having Shea, Bunbury and Agudelo playing for the senior squad will only serve to help the Olympic campaign.
”The nice thing is that a couple of the goals were generated by guys who are going to be with us," said Porter. "That gets me excited because I know that through the experiences that they’ll have with the senior year, they’ll bring those experiences back to us and enhance our group.”
Juan Agudelo excelled in the first half but left the scrimmage near the end of the first half to receive treatment for an ankle injury. At the moment, there was no diagnosis for the extent of the injury.
Josh Gatt put in an uneven performance on the night for the U-23s. Playing at right back in the first half, the Molde winger showcased his blistering speed as well as a willingness to get involved into the attack. However, on the defensive end, Gatt was consistently challenged by Brek Shea, who blew past the defender on several occasions. In the second half, Gatt was pushed forward to right wing and helped create several chances for the U-23 team.
Amobi Okugo had the strongest showing for Porter's U-23 team. Appearing composed on the ball, the Union midfielder aided in the attack as his side pushed forward in the first half. However, where he was most effective was in defense, frequently breaking up chances for the senior team.
Less than 24 hours after being drafted by the Montreal Impact, Andrew Wenger started at centerback for the U-23 team alongside Montreal teammate — and childhood friend — Zarek Valentin. The number one pick in the 2012 SuperDraft appeared composed alongside Valentin, but was frequently targeted by Chris Wondolowski, who beat Wenger for the opening goal of the match.
Similarly, Kelyn Rowe, the number three overall selection for the New England Revolution, performed well coming on in the second half and helping the U-23 team dominate possession. Rowe was at his best late in the second half when he sliced through two defenders, creating a scoring opportunity for the U-23s.
Bill Hamid enjoyed the best day among the four goalkeepers, making several timely saves as the U-23 team pushed for a goal in the second half. Hamid's best stop of the night came midway through the second half when he parried away a close range header from Royal-Dominique Fennell.
Jermaine Jones will join the senior squad on Saturday after being added to the January camp roster on Friday afternoon while he serves an eight-week suspension with Schalke.