The USMNT took their first step towards the World Cup in the Send-off Series against Azerbaijan on Tuesday night. Here are the major takeaways from the match.
1. Nordic influence. Mix Diskerud and Aaron Johannsson were both super-subs on Tuesday night. Diskerud opened the scoring with a rebound shot from a Michael Bradley volley, while Johannsson placed a perfect header into the upper 90 minutes later from a corner. Both players looked sharp on the ball and gave the U.S. a more distinct attacking edge. It will be interesting to see if either can break into the starting XI.
Diskerud had the extra burden of wearing the #10 shirt, previously held by the ousted Landon Donovan. After the game he said “It’s not my number, I’m just borrowing it. It’s about the badge on the front, not the number on the back.” Classy move, Nordic Messi.
2. Absent Bradley. Michael Bradley had a rough night. Starting at the top of the midfield diamond formation, Bradley found it very tough to find space (or the ball) in front of the back four of Azerbaijan. Misplaced passes, uncharacteristic missed touches and poor vision were all part of his night. Now, this could’ve been rust, but he needs to be at his best for the U.S. to have a fighting chance in Brazil. To contrast, the normally erratic Jermaine Jones played a composed holding midfield role on Tuesday.
3. Formation matters. The U.S. started with a midfield diamond (Jones, Bedoya, Zusi and Bradley), but after awhile Klinsmann’s subs morphed the formation into a 4-2-3-1 (Brad Davis, Diskerud, Johannsson) with Mix Diskerud assuming the number 10 role. The goals came soon after the change. What formation will Klinsmann use against Turkey on Sunday?
Up Next: USMNT v. Turkey, Sunday at 2 pm EST on ESPN.
- Will Clint Dempsey start? Dempsey pulled out of the pre-game warmup with a slight groin injury, but Klinsmann chose to keep him out as a precaution.
- Will the most effective back four play together? On Tuesday it looked to be Yedlin, Cameron, Besler and Beasley.
- Will Jozy get more shots on goal? As the main striker, Jozy needs to grab a couple goals to increase his confidence going into Brazil. His 52 touches against Azerbaijan were his most in some time for the national team- a good sign.
- Will Julian Green and Kyle Beckerman get their shot? We didn’t see either play against Azerbaijan.