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USMNT 2, Peru 1: The SBI Breakdown

DeAndre Yedlin Yoshimar Yotun USMNT Peru 83

photo by Brad Mills/USA Today Sports


WASHINGTON — A lackluster opening 45 minutes, a much-improved second half, and a come-from-behind win that has injected a bit more confidence in U.S. Men’s National Team fans.

The U.S. knocked off Peru, 2-1, on Friday night at RFK Stadium thanks to a brace after halftime from Jozy Altidore and all-around solid defensive performance. The win came in the U.S. team’s first match since their abysmal CONCACAF Gold Cup showing, and without star veterans Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, who remained with their clubs.

While much of the postgame talk from the U.S. was positive, there were still some troubling signs. Jurgen Klinsmann’s side had a lousy first half that looked like an extension of the play that was seen at the Gold Cup, and Altidore’s two goals flattered what was a a largely mixed performance from him.

Ultimately, Peru provided exactly the type of challenge that the Americans wanted ahead of next month’s CONCACAF Cup clash with Mexico. The U.S. prevailed on Friday thanks to improvements in several areas, but there is also still plenty to work on before that Oct. 10 meeting.

Here is closer look back at the U.S. victory vs. Peru:


Jozy Altidore showed marked improvement from how he played at the Gold Cup, and it was not just because of the goals he scored.

Still, he did not have a good game.

The U.S. captain in this one, Altidore was nearly nonexistent in the first half. The Americans as a whole struggled to keep possession, but Altidore played a part in that due to his inability to relieve pressure, keep the ball when the U.S. did have it, or connect on passes. It wasn’t until the 42nd minute that Altidore finally tested Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, but that came from a near-impossible angle after a rough first touch saw the ball get away from Altidore.

Altidore, like his American teammates, kicked it up a notch after the break. He was more active and aggressive, using his enviable strength and size to hold off and power through Peruvian defenders. The goals he scored, however, came via fortuitous calls or bounces.

The forward’s first came via a questionable penalty kick that he scored on the rebound after having his initial shot saved. The second happened when a wayward Gyasi Zardes shot took a kind deflection and fell to Altidore at the door step.

All this is not to say Altidore’s two-goal outing was fool’s gold. He had a nice, one-touch pass that was key to the sequence on his second tally, and could’ve had a neat assist in the first half had John Brooks not sent a shot into orbit.

Those moments were too few and far in between, however, and more is going to be demanded of him if he is to start vs. Mexico in a month’s time.


Save for a late surge in the final minutes, the Americans had a pretty lifeless first half. There was very little possession, a lack of venom in the attack, and some frustrating unforced turnovers.

Where the U.S. really did shine from start to finish was in defense. The Americans’ back line was comprised of four natural centerbacks, but held its own against a talented stable of Peruvian attackers, especially in the first half when waves of pressure came the U.S.’s way. Emergency left back Tim Ream was worthy of exceptional praise, as he stood his ground on a number of 1-v-1 battles and limited the impact that the in-form Andre Carrillo had on the game.

The defensive outing was a huge upgrade over those at the Gold Cup, but another reason for optimism was how the U.S. dug deep to come from behind to turn this one around.

There was a feeling among some in the U.S. camp that the squad had lost a bit of that never-say-die attitude, that resilience, that fight that have been the staple of so many wins in recent years, and getting all that back to optimum levels was crucial.

The Americans showed that they still have that card up their sleeve. They regrouped at halftime and came out much sharper, tougher, and aggressive. It resulted in Peru looking overwhelmed, and paved the way for Altidore’s game-changing brace.


Like many unabashed FIFA 15 gamers, Jurgen Klinsmann loves speed. He has stated on multiple occasions how important he thinks it is to the international game, and let it be known again with his actions on Friday.

Klinsmann deployed Zardes and DeAndre Yedlin at the left and right midfielder spots, respectively, against Peru, and it paid off as the promising youngsters used their speed to keep the Peruvian defenders and midfielders on their toes.

Zardes was especially effective, testing right fullback Luis Advincula, who is no slowpoke, with a number of darting dribbling runs on the flank. The 24-year-old Zardes was without a doubt the best U.S. attacking player in the first half, as he aggressively exploited space and looked to fire shots or whip in crosses the few times the Americans had possession.

Both Zardes and Yedlin also played key parts in Altidore’s game-winning goal. Hitting his high gear, Yedlin raced onto a ball over the top on the play. He then took advantage of the step he had on Peru left back Juan Vargas and astutely faked a right-footed cross, which duped the veteran defender into committing a desperation slide that may have sent him all the way to the White House.

Yedlin cut a pass back to Altidore that was poked away at the last second, but Zardes was there to collect the ball and hit a poor shot that deflected into the path of Altidore.


Brazil will prove a tougher challenge, but Peru was the perfect one.

Like college midterms before a final, Peru provided a practice test that should give the Americans a good idea as to what to expect next month vs. Mexico. Like El Tri, Peru boasted technical players who liked to combine with quick, short passes, and had plenty of flair in their repertoire.

Attacking midfielder Jefferson Farfan also helped to prepare for Mexico playmaker Giovani Dos Santos. Though the two players are not identical, there are resemblances in the way they can pull the strings for their respective countries. Farfan was especially dangerous on the counter attack, an area where Dos Santos has proven to be lethal.

The similarities don’t stop there. The crowd of 28,896 at RFK Stadium was pro-Peru, and the South American’s supporters shouted a string of ‘Oles’ midway through the first half that will surely be heard again next month when Mexico fans pack into the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

The atmosphere vs. Mexico will be more intense and there is more at stake in next month’s game, but Peru gave a good glimpse as to what to expect on the field and in the stands.

Great move by U.S. Soccer to schedule this one.


  1. Come on. Fist, the USA’s played very well the first 15 minutes. After the Peru Goal, the U.S went flat until the last 5 minutes of the first half. The second half, the U.S. played much better. Saying that Altidore did not play well is odd but everyone is entitled to their opinion. He was a hand full. Also, the penalty was not questionable. There was no doubt that that was a penalty…even the Peruvian commentators stated that there was no doubt. And yes, this was an excellent tune-up for Mexico.

  2. At the end of the day all that matters is that we put two balls in the old onion bag and Peru put one. A pretty or perfectly struck goal doesn’t count anymore than a shank that goes in. Goal scorers are paid/capped to score goals, Jozy scored 2 he did what he is supposed to do.

    • that’s exactly what i find so intruiging of the ‘jozy hate’ that occurs. if clint, wondo, etc would have scored 2 goals THAT would be the focus of topic the next day; yet when Jozy scores all the focus is on why Jozy ‘still isn’t thaaaaaat good’. like really? lol

      but i agree with you, the important part is that we came from behind and won, our 25 year old captain scored both goals; and we’re on to Brazil…

  3. Franco should watch the game one more time and focus on Altidore. If you didn’t notice a big difference in Jozy’s effort in this game, you weren’t watching closely enough. Even in the first half, that effort was evident. But he didn’t get any service in the first half because the US could barely get the ball, and when they did, they tried to quickly move the ball from Jones to Zardes and Yedlin (more successful going to Zardes). To be fair, Jozy’s runs in the first half were also not particularly intelligent in terms of finding space or manipulating defenders. But overall his effort level made a difference, and it became much more apparent in the second half, when the team started pressing higher and won useful possession in Peru’s half. If he continues that, he’s going to be successful.

    (I also don’t know how a serious analyst can attribute the second half performance to “resilience” and “grit” and not mention the much higher pressing by Diskerud and co. after halftime. That was a tactical change, and that’s what really made the difference.)

    • Not trying to put zardes down, he did have a good game but to say they were more successful going through him I don’t agree with. Both goals started down the right side the foul which led to the pk was on the right side and the second goal yedlin made a nice run beat a guy in the box and passed across the middle to jozy that got deflected to zardws for a awefjl shot that happen to bounce right to altidore.

  4. Unless the USMNT possesses the ball, our matches against good teams will be disappointing. It’s what really differentiates us from true football nations. So, anyone commenting that our midfield did fine is kidding themselves. Possession comes from the midfield.
    If it takes Altidore 45 minutes to come to life, maybe he shouldn’t start. Then again, Morris shouldn’t start either and is better as a second-half sub.

    • Who do we have that can create out of the possession game. Our offense either comes from breaks down the wings or if its up the center its on a counter. I think everyone recognizes the need for possession, but there doesn’t seem to be too many possession type midfielders in the pool. And if anyone lists McCarty, Fielhaber, and Nyugen, I’m going to lose it.

  5. This is how I’d line up if I was playing FIFA


  6. Real question now is with Bradley back, will Klinsmann bench Bedoya or put him on the wing over either Zardes or Yedlin??

    I would put Bedoya on the bench and keep the wings the same as the Peru game. And start either Wood, Morris, Iceman or Wooten next to Altidore. Or bench Altidore and start two of the other guys.

    I think Klinsmann will move Zardes up top next to Altidore, and start Bedoya on the wing along with Yedlin.

  7. Agreed that jozy played better, but still not good despite the two goals. Yes, the penalty call was correct, but fortuitous because the defender had the ball even if Jozy had not been fouled. Still a better performance by Jozy, but he did painfully squander a couple of passes that could have resulted in great opportunities.

  8. im glad someone else saw that altidore did not have a very good game. 2 goals is nice but other than 1 or 2 flicks I didn’t see a lot. I really want to see Wooten against brazil.

    • Nope. I agree too. Not a great match. But progress. His fitness looked much better. His motivation/confidence progressed as the match went on… loved seeing one sequence where he persisted/battled for a ball, muscled off the defender in multiple attempts in the corner. What the team needs from him. So… no not pretty, but he did what you want a striker to do- grind and find a way to put the ball in the net. Hopefully this propels him into a good run of form at the right time. At 25 and more important… what seven years as a pro, getting close to JA being for the most past what he is. Just hope he can keep it on the confident, in form part of that range and refine some things. Mostly mental/consistency/fight. Struggle as he has, truth is- NO ONE has stepped up as a replacement. So long overdue for Jozy or someone, anyone to take the starting striker role by the balls for this team.

      • That is the key thing – NO ONE HAS STEPPED UP as a replacement. Aron (AJ) had all Gold Cup and did not look convincing. Zardes looks good on the wing, but as a forward, seems more ideally suited as a 2nd/withdrawn forward (kinda like AJ). Boyd is always hurt. Wood needs to step up and Morris and others are too far away. US is too thin at the forward position, but JA is good servant. People keep forgetting, that he has the 3rd highest goals per game average of any USMNT player who has 25 caps or more (LD and Dempsey are 1& 2). That is more goals per game than McBride, Wynalda, Earnie Stewart etc.If anything it just shows how POORLY US develops attacking players. Additionally, don’t say he scores against weak competition. He scored against the same teams everyone played against. He has scored against Spain, Columbia, Peru, Mexico, Turkey, Poland, Germany, Panama, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Honduras, Nigeria, Chile, & Denmark – all good competition. His main fault is he isn’t a threat to score multiple times. He has only done it 3 times: Peru, Bosnia, Trinidad.

        Btw, I am not Jozy apologist, but that penalty call was 100% legit. I have seen the replay other 10 times. The Peru player grabbed his armed and pulled him back then feigned falling down. Penalty all day. Again, I don’t like it when Dempsey or Jozy fall, but that was legit.

        On a very last note, could we get Jozy to stop hitting the bench press? His upper body is looking more and more like rugby/football player than a soccer player. It is not good for quickness/agility etc.

      • There is something truly perplexing in that so many of us see Jozy as not a very good footballer, but his goals per game don’t lie. I think part of the pain of watching him is his possession game is often C league, along with his first touch. He’s so physically gifted that we want to see him fill his potential, which is to use his body in the same manner, as, dare I say, Drogba.

      • Yea I’d agree, but he’s not built like Drogba, but I see your point.If I were his coach, I’d make him practice with that string around his arms, like Mickey did with Rocky Balboa.
        Every player uses his arms to fight for position, it’s a contact sport.
        But when you’re built like a strong safety he’s gonna get fouls called every time.

      • personally i feel some people assume/want/think he’s a different styled player than he really is. He’s not a suarez that’s gonna make pesky runs all day to annoy the CBs (neither is dempsey, and fwiw this is why Davies worked with Jozy), he’s not a small, quick, dribbling forward like aguero or Villa (we have NO ONE even remotely comparable), he’s truly more of a ‘I’m gonna look to pass if i get the ball anywhere but right at the 18’. some people don’t like that style, that’s fine. Huntelaar has had a nice career playing that style… Jozy is not as good as Huntelaar but i feel his style is similar. people always say “I want Jozy to make more runs or run at the defense with the ball”, while that isn’t who Jozy is. the real ‘problem’ lies in the fact that he and CD have been the best performers yet they’re more similar in style than different thus imho Jozy won’t truly gel until CD retires in the next few years; by then hopefully another fwd will have claimed a spot as Jozy’s striking partner rather than replacement.

      • I think a case could be made that Morris has stepped up in the few opportunities he has been given. I wouldn’t mind rolling the dice and giving him a start.

  9. Franco,
    Altidore’s penalty was legit. Zardes’ strike leading to the second goal was not “poor” it was struck well towards the far post.

    • I think what the author is saying is that there was little chance Jozy could have gotten to the ball first without the foul, but the defender put himself in that position so its a penalty in my book. He said Zardes shot was “wayward” not poor, it appeared to be going wide of the far post the way it had already started to bend, but again impossible to know for sure when a shot takes such an early deflection.

  10. I think your assessment was right on, Ives. Jozy’s passing was pretty abysmal. He missed several passes that if he had made them could have led to great scoring chances.

  11. Several posters were calling for Bedoya as the CAM and it was just one game, but seems not to be his spot. NYFC might, however, take notice it looks like were Mix seems most comfortable, of course Pirlo.

    I thought the difference in defense was we didn’t have the outside backs bombing down the sidelines leaving the center backs exposed. Even on Peru’s counters we had at least 3 and most times 4 back. In the Gold Cup it was often times 3 or 4 attackers against Brooks and Alvarado.

    Dempsey and Altidore (For), Zardes, Bradley, Jones, Johnson (Flat Midfield, let Jones and Bradley float and interchange as who is attacking and who drifts in CDM) Cameron, Brooks, Besler, Ream (I know that’s two left footed CBs, but why not. Yedlin (Zardes or Johnson) Mix for Jones, Johannson for Altidore as subs in 2nd half. If Fabian isn’t ready for Mexico slot Bedoya to start.

    • to be fair, Bedoya was more of a dual-pivoting-CM with JJ rather than a true cam which he has played at Nantes, i agree the CM isn’t his best position but he did decently. i like him as a sub on the wing if our speedy wingers can solidify themselves.

  12. Love the come from behind win. Worth mentioning is the number of subs played by both teams. Peru played 5 (?). A Meaningful tourney match would surely be different. But regardless, great to see Jozy score.

    • If 6 subs were allowed the US would win the World Cup, Klinsi is the master of friendly subbing. Although the US goals came before most of Peru’s subs so it wasn’t as if they had their scrubs in there or were disorganized because of subbing. And the US probably wouldn’t change out 75% of their backline in a tourney game either.

  13. 1. That was not a questionable penalty. Just because Jozy has had some ugly dives in the past, and has not played well lately, has no bearing on that call. The reverse angle shows it perfectly, and the ref was 10 feet away. 100% correct call.
    2. The defense shined- except for that poor play by Omar. Yea it was a weird deflection, but that was just ugly from OG. Anyone else on that backline and we’d be reading how terrible of a mistake it was and JK still has a lot of work to figure out his CBs.
    3. Not mentioned-
    – We’ve missed Jones. His leadership and toughness is so important. Not to mention if you watched him off the ball, he was screaming his head off and directing where people should be.
    -Guzan solid
    -Overall urgency has got to be better. It was good for the first 10 mins and last 5 of the 1st half. 2nd half better, but We need 90
    -Still need to create more chances-MB, Duece, and Fabian can’t be the only ones besides Zardes

    • Without a doubt that was one of the blatant dives I’ve seen from a USMNT player in recent history followed up by an even uglier penalty that would flatter Clint Dempsey.

      He was tugged on the shoulder slightly and he went down like an anvil. If those are the sort of antics we have to rely on from our most productive forward to win a game then that’s going to be a problem

      • The Peruvian player extended his leg somewhat between Jozy in stride, which Jozy felt, so he dragged his feet across it.

      • You didn’t catch it well in real time. No question he was tripped. You are really fighting a losing battle here.

      • I agree, I thought he left his leg back and dragged it…he was looking for contact to drop…It bugs me to see any US forward going down soft begging for calls, especially someone as burly as Jozy.

      • One of the most Blatant Dives Ever?
        1. You must not watch a lot of soccer
        2. Just because he popped the ball up to himself poorly doesn’t mean it’s not a foul
        3. A clear foul in the box is a penalty-the guy doesn’t have to be going to goal
        Went Down like an Anvil?
        1. That should prove to you he wasn’t diving, when Jozy dives he goes all Luis Suarez-flailing arms and body before hitting the ground
        2. Would it have been different if he went down like Robben?
        3. Would it have been different if he went down like a Kardashian?
        1. The purpose of a soccer game is to put the ball in the goal more times than the other team. It’s called a goal, and that’s how they keep score
        2. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blast from 40 yards, a bicycle kick off the shin, a muff by the keeper, a scrum on the line, an own goal, or a penalty.
        After over 40 years of watching soccer, I’ve yet to see a team surrender it’s chance for one of those goal things due to antics

  14. Midfield did far superior than Gold Cup. Bedoya seem lost as CM and Jones was very tire in second half. But, USNT still had control of the midfield.

    Defense was actually did good job.

    Woods was only major negative.


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