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Tuesday, July 22, 2014
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Mix Diskerud came off the bench to score the first goal against Azerbaijan. (AP Photo)

Mix Diskerud came off the bench to score the first goal against Azerbaijan. (AP Photo)

Opening impressions

Last Modified: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 4:28 PM Staff writers Warren Arceneaux, Troy LaFleur and Albert Burford take a look at Team USA's 2-0 exhibition win over Azerbaijan:

What positives do you take away from the Azerbaijan game?

WA: I was impressed the wide players that started the game, Zusi and Bedoya. I missed most of the qualifying games so was not very familiar with either one. Zusi created a few scoring chances and Bedoya was aggressive taking defenders on. Brad Davis was great and active in the second half.

TL: I have to agree with Mr. Arceneaux, the wide play of Zusi and Bedoya, as well as Brad Davis was spot on. Zusi jump-started the attack and made it flow well, Bedoya turned in his usual ‘run right at you and wear you down’ shift and Davis was pleasant surprise after looking overwhelmingly mediocre in the last year for the USMNT. Another thing I kept an eye on was Mix Diskerud who deployed out wide for the first time, coming on for Bedoya. He pinched in most of the time, allowing DeAndre Yedlin to get more involved in the attack, and it worked out quite well.

AB: Substitutions paid off for Jurgen Klinsmann. The US looked flat for much of the game, but Davis, Diskerud and Aron Johannsson all contributed off the bench.

What concerns arose from the game?

WA: Matt Besler made a horrendous pass for a turnover deep in the US half in the first half that led to a shot on goal. I have little confidence in the defense’s ability to stop anyone from scoring as is. Giving the ball away just makes things worse.

TL: I watch Besler on a regular basis in MLS and all of his outings for the USMNT, and can say that bad pass was a rare occurrence, but Mr. Arceneaux makes a good point about the shaky back line. That wasn’t my biggest problem, though. For me it was Jozy Altidore being completely invisible in the box. To his credit, Altidore has had much worse outings for country and he made a few good plays, but nothing that provided anything towards scoring chances. Yes, his hold up play was nice, and it was good to see him use his strength advantage for once, but he was nowhere to be found in the box. He needs to make his presence more known before Brazil.

AB: I doubt it will be a continuing concern, but Michael Bradley had the worst game I’ve seen from him in quite some time. He’s usually the motor that makes the US go, but last night, he was a non-factor and made mistakes when he managed to get involved. Bradley will need to be playing well for this team to be successful in Brazil.

Has your outlook for Team USA changed based on the game?

WA: I have been in panic mode since the terrible draw but the first half kind of calmed my fears because the team looked composed, confident and aggressive when they had the ball. I still think they will have a tough time going through but I don’t think they will just roll over. They will go for it and that is all I want to see.

TL: No. I knew Zusi and Bedoya were capable of playing that well, if not better on the wings. If they do that against Nigeria I will be more impressed. I knew the backline would be shaky, but with Tim Howard in the net they have the convenience of taking the next two warm-up games to get it together. Save for the unusually quiet Michael Bradley performance this was about what I expected from the USMNT. A steady backline and a more physical attack against Turkey would change my mind.

AB: No. It was nice to get a look at some of the substitutes and how they may be used in Brazil, but the backline— most people’s main concern— wasn’t tested by Azerbaijan. We’ll see how the US defense stacks up against Turkey and Nigeria in the upcoming friendlies, though.

Posted By: Warren On: 5/29/2014

Title: RE: Fabian Johnson

Johnson showed some nifty dribbling ability in the second half, but since Azerbaijan attacked so little, he was never tested as a defender. That is the big question going into the next qualifier. Hopefully Turkey will provide more of a challenge.

Posted By: JT. On: 5/29/2014

Title: What about.....

What about Fabian Johnson? I liked him.

Posted By: Micah On: 5/28/2014

Title: Good stuff

Good stuff so far, love the input! Keep up the good work!

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