USA down Azerbaijan 2-0 in World Cup tune-up
Second-half goals from Mix Diskerud and Aron Johannsson lifted the United States to a 2-0 victory over Azerbaijan on Tuesday in a pre-World Cup international friendly.
Playing their first match since manager Jurgen Klinsmann announced his 23-man squad for the World Cup finals -- from which all-time leading US scorer Landon Donovan was a notable absentee -- the United States still have a few things to sort out before heading to Brazil.
While Donovan`s omission was big news, a big question remaining for the United States is who will be the starting central defence pairing when they take on Ghana in their World Cup opener on June 16.
With regular starter Omar Gonzalez nursing an injury, DaMarcus Beasley and Geoff Cameron started together on Tuesday but were rarely tested in the early going.
The Americans created several quality scoring chances early, despite the absence of Clint Dempsey, who was scratched just before kickoff due to groin soreness and replaced by Chris Wondolowski.
The Americans didn`t miss a beat with Wondolowski up top as the first chance came in just the fourth minute when Graham Zusi floated a free kick onto the head of Wondolowski, whose powerful header was parried away by Azerbaijan goalkeeper Kamran Agayev.
The visitors had an opportunity to strike in the 12th minute when a free kick from Mahir Sukurov hit the right post.
The Americans found it tough to break down a stubborn Azerbaijan back line in the first half and went into the break scoreless.
With the pace slower in the second half, the United States broke through in the 75th minute when a free kick from Brad Davis was knocked down in the penalty area.
Michael Bradley`s effort from the edge of the box was stopped by Agayev, but Diskerud was there to fire home the third international goal of his career.
Six minutes later the Americans made it 2-0 when Davis served an excellent left-footed corner kick into the box onto the head of Johannsson, who rose and powered a header into the top right corner of the net.
The United States cruised home for the victory in the first of three warm-up matches before their departure for the World Cup.
Klinsmann`s team will next be in action on Sunday against Turkey at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
They play Nigeria in Jacksonville, Florida, on June 7.
The United States are drawn in Group G along with Ghana, who reached the quarter-finals in the 2010 edition, Euro 2012 semi-finalists Portugal and one of the favorites for the trophy -- Klinsmann`s native Germany.