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USMNT 2, Azerbaijan 0: Match Highlights


  1. What I would like to see in one send off match:
    def: Johnson, Besler, Cameron, Chandler
    holding mids: Jones, Beckerman
    mids: Zusi, Bradley, Bedoya
    forward: Dempsey

    Having Johnson and Chandler marauding forward, should one holding mid cover for a sideback then Bradley shifts into that hole.

  2. This team is nothing without Dempsey.
    The 2-0 scoreline tells us nothing about the USMNT.
    Turkey is also depleted and will tell us nothing.
    Maybe, Nigeria will give us a hint of how bad our team is?

  3. The fear and self-loathing and inferiority complex of US soccer fans is the worst thing about being a US soccer fan. Folks take the joy out of the beautiful game. Does anyone remember that this team was in pretty good shape during qualifying without Donovan? And while I have been a fan, I don’t believe Landon’s game evolved as he aged. He is intimidated by high quality competition. Against physical opponents he goes AWOL. We lost twice with him against Ghana. We are in a tough group. I would have liked to see Donovan gain redemption against Germany -after all, he missed the best chances in 2002.(and I think sports writers are unhappy about not having that story to write) but Donovan is no longer the difference maker that he was. Not even close.
    Meanwhile this is Clint’s team and he will have a great WC. We beat Ghana 2-1 with goals from Dempsey and Bradley. We will finish the group with 4 points.

  4. I thought this was kind of interesting. The only team in two years to score more than 2 goals against Azerbaijan is Portugal

    • Too bad that bit of info will be lost as it does not fit into the narrative of (what seems) to be a large vocal group of fans who want to bash the the coach and team.

  5. This game was about what I figured it would be. The US dominated possession but struggled on tired legs to break down a team that sat 11 guys behind the ball and played defensively. AZ finally wilted late in the game and our subs helped break the game open and scored a couple. The wind really screwed things.

    Good showings:

    Brad Davis, who I questioned being on the roster, made quite an impact, and not just as a “set piece specialist.” Jones played a disciplined game as the CDM. F. Johnson was not tested defensively, but looked dangerous going forward. Cameron was polished and seemed comfortable at CB. AJ and Mix brought energy off the bench and finished their chances.

    Not so good showings:

    Bradley was off all night and it really hurt our attack. He seemed the most affected by the tired legs, probably because his role is so demanding and important. Besler looked a little shaky and had a couple of bad turnovers. Yedlin looked like he’s not ready for this level yet, probably the last we see of him this tournament.

    Neither good nor bad showings:

    Jozy is still carrying some Sunderland funk, but provided some decent hold-up play, and seemed to be gaining confidence as the game went on. Gonzales seemed a little tentative but made the big stop when called on. Chandler and Beasley looked the part but simply weren’t tested. Wondo came out on fire, but his influence waned as the game went on. Howard made the one save he needed to.

    • I thought the same thing, I believe it’s because US soccer is all Nike. The bruzuca is Adidas, while the orange ball they use is Nike. In training you can see they are using the bruzuca.

      • That’s good they’re using it in training then, I remember 4 years ago, teams that hadn’t used the new ball complained more about it during the group stage than the ones who had been using it

  6. I am going to say something a little controversial…. I firmly believe the second goal was intentionally gifted to the US…. watch the replays again and the marking by Azerbaijan… I think Vogts put the word out to his players not to mark on the Brad Davis corner… Bacon was beyond wide open… watch the Azerbaijani players standing and watching…

    I have seen plenty of missed assignments etc when lots of players are in the box… but there where 6 guys not marking a US shirt watching Bacon head that home… VERY FISHY…

    • Not controversial, becuase that’s ridiculous, we would have won anyway, and there’s plenty else to talk about. Bring on the Turkey!

      • yes but a 2-0 is being questioned by some as not good enough…. so 1-0 would have been worse… Seriously… watch the full replays of the goal again and look at the Azerbaijani body language after the goal.. the GK did not even react. Nor did half of the other defenders.. it was awfully weird looking…

      • If you look really closely, you can even see money changing hands. But you have to look really, really closely.

    • They are out of season for their club teams. Perhaps because they had been chaseing the game all game they were just tired.

    • Come on. It’s called poor set piece defending… Do you think Wondo was left unmarked on purpose too? The defending was just as bad on those he just didn’t finish his chances. I can’t believe you actually think there was some conspiracy. You really must think poorly of your national team.

      • Nope just the manager… and if there was ever going to be a conspiracy.. it would be with a situation like last night where the opposing coach was on the US Soccer payroll… seriously… they all stood still… not tired, they let it happen.

  7. GREAT NEWS! USMNT fans are no longer happy with a 2-0 score line! They want more!

    I was at the game last night and was very impressed with the work rate of Bradley and Jones, as well as their communication with the backline. They yielded a couple half chances to Abyzidigo, but otherwise the result was never in doubt. The opposition kept so many players back that our boys were never going to get behind them and yet we almost did with that early Wondo chance. Jozy was also a true force and was fouled all game long, some were called and many were not. Fabian Johnson was just a half step or a half touch from creating dangerous opportunities out of the back. It was a fun game to watch for the trained eye.

    Frankly, I am upset that our soccer sports writers have taken such a negative tack. Now that they all have signed their names in blood against the Landon omission, they have to keep writing more articles that explain why Landon is missed. Instead, they should focus on what this side did well today. Stop trying to identify the new team under the old paradigm!

    • +1

      You see Wahl’s “3 Things” article on SI? His third point was “The Donovan discussion won’t be disappearing,” mainly because he mentioned it immediately in point #1. The discussion will disappear when they stop writing it.

      I hate Twellman, but he said something fantastic yesterday. After the Outlaws ovation (or lack thereof) of Donovan, Twellman effectively said “Good to do…now move on with the team you have.”

      • Yeah, Wahl should just admit that he was caught by surprise and POed about it. Instead, he keeps trying to validate his own contentions.

        The thing is that, without any critical thinking by sports writers, they have set the stage to fulfill their own narrative. If the boys crash and burn, Wahl won’t admit that it was the group of death that did it. Instead, will write “Well, we had a tough group but…Landon…Donovan…Algeria goal…Portugal goal…blah…blah.” It is as if the have created their own Fox News echo chamber in the soccer universe.

        I think that Klinsmann is doing everything he can to field the best team. If we lose, it will not be because Donovan wasn’t present.

      • The Donovan discussion emphasizes JK’s strategy. If we are blowout in the WC, than all of JK’s choices will be scrutinized. Especially the big ones.

      • But we’re facing the 2nd and 3rd best teams in the world, plus an “easy” game against the team that knocked us out of the past two world cups. Isn’t it possible that we can get blown out no matter who Klinsmann puts out there? Is the mere fact that we can scrutinize Klinsmann’s choices in the light of the results also self serving evidence that we should scrutinize his choices. My point is, if he loses he is out because that is how sports works, it is not because of the difference Donovan would have made, but if there is an original thought to the contrary I would love to hear it. Use statistics please, or something more objective than “…I think Donovan….”

      • True, but that’s why JK’s decision was so self-destructive…he set himself up to look bad. If he had picked Donovan and didn’t make to the next round, everyone would have accepted it because of the strength of the group. By cutting him, he’s knotted his own noose…everyone will now blame JK’s decision if we don’t go through.

      • we’re in total agreement, but I am trying to explain why the logic (conventional wisdom) is so flawed.

      • “JK’s decision was so self-destructive…he set himself up to look bad.”

        Just means that he’s actually trying to win. If he just wanted to “save face,” then bring LD and play bunker-ball. Blech.

        Look, like a lot of SBI-ers, I wanted LD on the team. But the fact that he isn’t on the team suggests to me that Klinsmann is a) in it to win at any cost, or b) totally ignorant. Based on past performance, I reject “b.”

        Go big, blaze of glory, and all that. I’d rather cheer a team that goes 0-3 than cheer for Greece-America.

      • Bac: haha. I’ll always cheer for a Greek-American—just don’t let me see any buses!

    • +1 The problem with yesterdays game was people looked at the ranking and not the team and immediately expected us to blow them out. But no one realizes that Portugal beat them 3-0 and 2-0 in both of those games Portugal didn’t score till middle of the second half and they tied with Russia once and lost 1-0 on a late penalty. So this was a good result for the team.

      • The kind of result you need to have! It wasn’t so long ago that we could have tied this one 0-0.

      • JayAre: just adding to that: Portugal beat AZE 2-0 without Ronaldo; the US won 2-0 without Dempsey.

  8. And the histrionic overreactions begin!!

    The simple fact is that this was a friendly against a team that was set up to play defensively, at the end of a grueling 2 week camp. It was never going to be completely pretty, and became even less so when Dempsey went off injured. This game was about finding answers to the following questions:

    (1) Can Cameron play centerback despite playing RB all year? (Looked pretty damn good doing it)
    (2) Is Fabian an option at right back? (Most definitely)
    (3) Can the team create chances against a packed-in opponent? (Inconclusive, with Dempsey a late scratch)
    (4) Can Davis actually produce? (Looked pretty good in my opinion)
    (5) Can we finally settle on a back 4? (Looks like it)
    (6) Is Jones disciplined enough to accept the pure #6 role? (Definitely)

    That’s about it. The Turkey and Nigeria games will provide more answers, but this was always going to be a tight contest given the circumstances. All those saying “This player sucks” and “that player sucks” and “We need Donovan” are missing the point.

    • I agree with your points, but you cherry picked the good points of the game.

      Question #1 of these games is can Jozy keep his starting spot, despite bringing nothing to the team? (german sheisse films of klinsmann still working)

      and as for #5 we subbed out 3 players in the back 4, which line is settled?

      • I didn’t necessarily cherry-pick the good points. That was my list of what I wanted to see. I was most interested in Cameron and Jones.

        The subs were to get Yedlin and Chandler up to speed to see what they could do. I think the back line is settled as per the first half performance, but we’ll see more vs. Turkey, I suppose.

        If Klinsmann starts a completely different back line in that game, then strike anything I said.

      • Did you watch the same Jozy that I did? There’s very little you can pick on about his performance from last night other than he didn’t score a goal. So I don’t understand what you are belly aching about. His hold up play was very good! He received the ball well with contact and distributed it well to onrushing teammates.

      • +1 Looks like Del G is judging Jozy with some bowling or darts algorithm. I was at the game and truly sensed fear from his opponents and absolute domination by Jozy in the tight spaces he was given. They had no real answer for him and were just fortunate to have enough numbers back to cover. He bought his team mates a ton of space and that should sow in the possession stats (which I haven’t seen yet).

      • Did you not see Jozy sky it over the cross-bar on his only real shot of the game?

        Also, Jozy’s first touch was horrible most times.

        Lastly, he had a nice opportunity for a header and he jumped like 2 inches off the ground to try and head it as if he was afraid to make contact with opposing defenders.

        Jozy does not bring much to the game that other players can’t do. Just b/c he looks big physically doesn’t mean he uses that frame to fight hard.

      • He turned his defender beautifully on that shot and , for accuracy, he wasn’t the only one off he mark. You are wrong about his touches and you don’t understand the header part of the game.

      • these comments will be proven wrong when he earns 3-6 decent fouls just outside the box that should lead to goals. jozy has never really created chances all alone, he needs service, and the rest of the team can and should do just that. i seriously doubt if jozy is the sole reason we fail to advance out the group like so many posts here claim.

      • How many scoring chances did he have? blame everyone else on the team but Wondo, Bradly, Mixx, that other guy, all made their chances. Jozy makes no opportunities. How can you defend that?

      • At the WC nobody. But the reason we played an opponent like this was because of how organized they were, we need to learn how to be patient and take a team apart and this team was the perfect practice for that. Turkey will test our patients and provoke us and Nigeria will attack and test our defense.

      • I can see Ghana or Portugal dropping an extra player or two back if they get a lead, knowing that we can’t break down a packed defense.

      • Three teams might:
        1) A nervous Ghana, with a 2-1 lead late in the first match.
        2) Portugal, who needs a win in match 2, with a 1-0 lead
        3) Germany, disinterested in match 3, resting its best players and needing a draw to win the group.

      • @Morrison,

        Anybody who has a 1-0 lead and 20min to go. We need to know how to break down a well organized defense because we will likely find ourselves in a similar situation.

    • I agree that this was a good US effort against an experienced and physical team which played very tough against Portugal & Russia in the WC qualifying round. The US play strategy in keeping possession was good and noticeable but there were too many missed passes in this first friendly. I agree with your (3) in that Jozy gave more effort but he does not “strike” me as having sufficient WC creativity. I hope but don’t think Dempsey will provide much extra to the US attack. Finally, I don’t agree on (5) if this includes Beasley who is too small and inexperienced in defense for the WC, especially facing our Group G opponents.

  9. eh my excitement for this world cup has been on a steep decline. I don’t know what anybody else saw but i came away unimpressed. I couldn’t care less about the score line but 2 goals off set pieces with abysmal marking is nothing to be thrilled about. The attack look disjointed and static. The defense wasn’t really tested but still didn’t look too good. I think JK’s over experimentation with the back line will come to bite him in the @ss. This back line has barely played together and a few games before the WC (where he is still experimenting) isn’t going to change that. No CB with WC experience doesn’t help either. I don’t understand how it has taken this long to realize Beasley is not an international caliber LB.

    Another concerning thing from this game was how tired most of the team looked. Im afraid JK is going to run their legs into the ground and we’re going to get some more sluggish performances reminiscent of the Honduras qualifier. Praying this doesn’t happen

    While Azerbaijan plays nothing like any team we will face in the WC, I understand playing Azerbaijan as a minnow warm up but why are you playing a game in the cold when the team should be acclimating to a warm humid climate. It makes no sense.

    • It was odd to have the game at the Stick. Was Stanford booked, or something? That’s a great venue.

      I agree with a lot of what you said, but try to keep the faith. It’s early, these guys are still tired from conditioning. And I haven’t seen anyone mention how physical the Azeris were. They definately slowed the game down, on top of our guys apparently forgetting how to pass and trap (excpetion of Fabian Johnson and Geoff Cameron, who I thought looked flawless against this Eastern European powerhouse…).

  10. Besler with a Clark like give away in the 6th minute. He seriously needs to clean that up, we can’t have those types of opportunities given to teams like Ghana, Portugal and Germany. We’d certainly go down 1-0 quick fast in a hurry.

    • An overlooked elephant in the room because of all the other storylines right now?
      Has Besler looked as good as he did last year??

      • He looked a bit nervy in the beginning of the game but calmed down as he got more comfortable but I admit I am a bit worried that was an awful giveaway that would of been 1-0 to Ghana had it happened in the first game in the world cup. Guys like KPB or Sully Muntari would capitalized on an opportunity like that. I’m sure Klinsmann and co. gave him a talking to because he did better in the second half.

      • Sporting KC has been pretty depleted at the CB position this season with Collins and Opara injuries, but your right Besler hasn’t been as good this year.

      • Besler was the worst player on the pitch. His touch was abysmal. Very worrisome. Why does he look so nervous? On a related point, did anybody else notice how well Gonzo played? He was challenging every ball hard trying to prove he still has it and had good close-downs and clearances. I know, I know, it’s azerbajian, but still, don’t count him out. Glad to se the competition is helping elevate him and Cameron. Besler needs to jump on board too

    • Echoes of KPB scoring the first one against Howard in 2010. Ghana (or Portugal or Germany) would have finished that. Clean it up Besler.

      • Exactly my point, I don’t think he wants to be THAT GUY, a lot of us still haven’t forgiven Clark for his blunder.

      • Claudio Reyna’s giveaway for Ghana’s goal was far worse than Clarks. Reyna’s was close to the box while Clarks at the halfway line. People have forgiven Reyna so I think they should be able to forgive Clark for a lesser mistake.

  11. Ives,
    I’ve been reading SBI throughout my day for five years now. I NEVER go a day without it! Thanks so much for such a great outlet for US soccer fans. I’m a HUGE fan of the beautiful game in general, however, like most fans my heart belongs to our National Team.

    I’ve written a song for our boys going to battle in Brazil (and all those who have worn the Red White and Blue in the past).
    I wanted to ask you permission to post a link to the song but I can’t find an email addy to send it to you first.. My goal is to get it to the team so they know how passionately our country stands behind them (ALL of them!).
    Here’s the link. I’m not the greatest singer but it comes straight from my heart.

    Thanks, and Go USA!!!!!


  12. Definitely a fan of Johansson over Wondo. You can’t miss a wide open header, not overly disappointed on his second one but his first needed some work. The question still remains is who is going to create goals. Also lets hope Yeldin doesn’t play he seems like a player who is most likely to get a red card.

    • I think he did well with that chance. All you can ask of a striker is to put it on target, eventually those will go in, I think Wondo’s proven that.

      • No all you can ask a den fender to do is put it on target. The striker is actually there to score and that first header was a no no for any striker.

      • Um, no. A decent striker with a free header in the center of the box should be able to pick out a corner without much trouble.

      • Let’s seize on a single instance and pretend that not every striker in the world will occasionally power a free header directly at the goalkeeper.

        Let’s definitely not consider a broader range of chances and the overall conversion rate of those chances.

        For the record I prefer johann to wondo but jesus people.

      • You’re ignoring the silly comment that we’re replying to.

        “All you can ask of a striker is to put it on target”

        Of course you can’t expect a striker to score on every good opportunity, but it’s still reasonable to suggest that he should have done better with it. I’m sure Wondo was disappointed with that header, and will score on those more times than not.

      • And he, Wondo, ordinarily doesn’t have to fight the wind at Candlestick Park, a stadium that is being abandoned because of the horrible unpredictable wind.

    • Running full speed, diving for a ball struck hard into a gale force wind. Lol. You can’ t please some people. Jozy should by all accounts be our fourth striker, and really had no business beating Boyd or Landycakes for his roster spot. He sucks, he doesn’t hold the ball up or distribute as if thats what a striker should do, and we don;t play the over the top balls that could use a big body of his, not that he doesn;t avoid getting abused constantly in the box. Klinsi needs to open his eyes.

      • When you have a completely free header from 10 yards, and you are a professional striker, you need to do better than to head it directly at the goalie. Period.

        As for your points about Jozy….ridiculous.

      • Jozy routinely misses wide open headers. See his sunderland low lights. Jozy would have stood there not moving looking up at the sky and not even connected on the cross.

      • Jozy is afraid to jump and challenge hard for headers.

        We saw it last night and we’ve seen in virtually every game he plays for both club and country.

    • So who will you be a fan of when johann misses a wide open header (or has one spectacularly saved)? Because that happens to all strikers.

    • Were you there? The wind makes a huge difference. Also the goalie is very good and both Mix and Aron came in the second half when the Azerbaijan team was already tired. The players Klinsmann chose are not meant to play in an extremely windy baseball stadium that the SF Giants abandoned exactly because of the wind. The team played as well as expected if not better. As far as Bradley goes, he would play a lot better with Beckerman supporting the back.

  13. Wondo and Johannsson, our forwards, are left wide open in the middle of the box by a team that is coached by the guy that US Soccer is paying to help Klinsmann. You don’t have to be a world class player to mark a forward in the box so Azerbaijon or not, there’s no excuse really. Not a good sign

    • Quote from Klinsmann “he just has an outstanding soccer brain, an outstanding knowledge the way he reads the game, the way he analyzes things” HHHHHHAAAAAAAAA

      • I know! No one has ever been left wide open for a header in the history of the game. It MUST be a conspiracy!


      • Wouldn’t it have made a lot more sense to schedule a friendly against Wales instead Azerbaijan? There is no better simulation of Ronaldo than Bale. Also the game should have been played in Florida and not candlestick.

    • Except AJ and Mixx finished theirs, and Wondo hit about 3 chances right at the keeper.

      I’m really hoping that JK just wanted to put certain players on the field at certain points in time and not to alter that for Dempsey. Because if he really believes Wondo is better than AJ, Mixx, et al., that’s crazy talk. He got in the right spot several times and did squat because he lacks the technical sharpness to finish it.

      • Imperative: Mix also hit his right at the keeper. He was just fortunate to get a lucky deflection into the goal.

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