Tuesday night, the U.S. Men's National Team shut out Azerbaijan 2-0 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Calif., for a crowd of 24,688 fans in the first of a three-game Send-Off Series for FIFA World Cup Brazil. This was the USA's first-ever international match-up against Azerbaijan.
In a surprise move last week, USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann cut MLS all-time leading goalscorer Landon Donovan from the World Cup roster and now the U.S. National Team will head to Brazil without him or veteran defenders Michael Parkhurst, Brad Evans or Clarence Goodson.
After warm-ups for Ajerbaijan, Klinsmann had pull captain Clint Dempsey out of the starting line-up because of groin soreness and transferred the captain's armband to goalkeeper Tim Howard. With the result, Howard (53-28-15) tied Kasey Keller's record of 53 career USMNT victories and posted his 35th career shutout.
Klinsmann staffed the back line of the 4-4-2 with left back DaMarcus Beasley, right back Fabian Johnson and center backs Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron. Alejandro Bedoya played left-mid, Graham Zusi on the right, Jermaine Jones was holding midfielder and Michael Bradley was positioned at the top of the diamond. Chris Wondolowski, starting for injured Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore paired up front.
The first half was a ragged scoreless affair, despite Wondolowski's brave early attempt on goal. Klinsmann made three halftime subs, bringing in center back Omar Gonzalez for Cameron and left back Timmy Chandler for Beasley and Brad Davis replaced Zusi. In the 62nd minute, forward Aron Johannsson replaced Wondolowski and DeAndre Yedlin replaced Johnson, and in the 71st minute, Mix Diskerud replaced Bedoya.
Just four minutes after entering the field, Diskerud, wearing a No. 10 jersey, put the USA up 1-0 with an unassisted strike for his third career tally. Substitute Johannsson, who made his eighth career appearance, made it 2-0 in the 81st minute, assisted by Brad Davis. It was Johannsson's second-ever international goal.
In Game 2 of the Send-Off series, the USMNT faces Turkey at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 1, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, before traveling to Jacksonville, Florida, to face Nigeria on June 7 at 6 p.m. ET at EverBank Field for Game 3. Both matches will be broadcast live on ESPN2, WatchESPN, UniMas and ESPN Deportes Radio.
USA - Mix Diskerud 75th minute
USA - Aron Johannsson (Brad Davis) 81
USA: 1-Tim Howard (capt.); 23-Fabian Johnson (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 62), 20-Geoff Cameron (3-Omar Gonzalez, 46), 5-Matt Besler, 7-DaMarcus Beasley (21-Timmy Chandler, 46); 19-Graham Zusi (14-Brad Davis, 46), 13-Jermaine Jones, 4-Michael Bradley, 11-Alejandro Bedoya (10-Mix Diskerud, 71); 17-Jozy Altidore, 18-Chris Wondolowski (9-Aron Johannsson, 62)
Subs Not Used: 6-John Brooks, 8-Clint Dempsey, 12-Brad Guzan, 15-Kyle Beckerman, 16-Julian Green, 22-Nick Rimando
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
AZE: 1-Kamran Aghayev, 3-Rasim Ramaldanov, 4-Mahir Shukurov (capt.) (25-Ilkin Girtimov, 46), 7-Vagif Javadov (13-Dmitrij Nazarov, 60), 8-Gara Garayev, 10-Rufat Dadashov (28-Pardis Fardjad-Azad, 66), 11-Rauf Aliyev, 15-Ruslan Abishov (2-Badavi Guseynov, 46), 20-Ufuk Budak, 24-Abdulla Abasiyev (18-Maksim Medvedev, 71), 29-Elvin Yunuszade
Subs Not Used: 5-Shahriyar Aliyev, 9-Jihan Ozkara, 12-Emil Balayev, 14-Rashad Sadigov, 23-Salahat Aghayev
Head Coach: Berti Vogts
Stats Summary: USA / AZE
Shots: 14 / 7
Shots on Goal: 7 / 2
Saves: 2 / 5
Corner Kicks: 11 / 6
Fouls: 9 / 16
Offside: 1 / 1
Referee: Henry Bejarano (CRC)
Assistant Referee 1: Warner Castro (CRC)
Assistant Referee 2: Carlos Fernandez (CRC)
Fourth Official: Armando Castro (HON)