USA 2-0 Azerbaijan - as it happened

时间:2019-11-16  作者:郗贼  来源:银河网站平台  浏览:122次  评论:108条

Final thoughts:

So the first warm up game went off pretty much as we expected with a few interesting wrinkles. Azerbaijan were expected to be tough to break down, but were expected to break down, and that's what happened, especially when Brad Davis came on and began prising open the defense. Mix Diskerud and Aron Johansson's goals made the difference in the end — so no goal for Jozy Altidore in perhaps his best opportunity to get scoring again. And no goal of course for Clint Dempsey, who was kept out of the game as a precaution.

Elsewhere Michael Bradley got into dangerous spots but didn't always have the best final touch, Jones, behind him stayed disciplined enough for the most part, though almost had a costly error near the end, while Matt Besler too had at least one wobble in an otherwise solid night. The question is whether a better team might punish these slips more ruthlessly.

The games will get more meaningful now, as the opposition both toughens up and more closely resembles systems the will be facing in Brazil. Plenty for Klinsmann to think about as he ponders the success of that midfield diamond and particularly if and how his two man attack worked.

Thanks for all your tweets and emails — sorry I didn't get to use them all. Good night.

Full-time: USA 2-0 Azerbaijan

Final thoughts in a moment...

90 mins +2: USA press forward again and have another decent shout for a foul on the edge of the box as Johansson is forced over. Fairly says the referee. And that's the nearest we'll get to significant action in the remainder of the game...

90 mins+1: USA take a quick free kick in the Azeraijan half and Altidore tries a very speculative shot from distance, but it's blocked on the edge of the box.

90 mins: Jones, who looks tired, is easily dispossessed by Aliyev (these small errors could add up in a costly manner in the World Cup) and Azerbaijan force a corner off a deflected shot. We'll have two minutes time added on.

88 mins: USA work a short corner and Bradley makes another little surging run and deft cross from the byline, but it's blocked for another corner. From that one the ball breaks to Diskerud on the edge of the box and he tries to smash a shot goal wards. It's charged down, but Diskerud is showing he's never shy about trying something.

86 mins:Chandler cuts in from the left and fires a shot goal wards, that deflects wickedly but only for a corner. This time Davis floats one to the back post, but it's easy enough this time for Agayev to catch it on his line.

Jones is down rubbing the side of his head having taken a knock. It's worth noting that for a friendly there've been one or two very lively challenges coming in from the Azerbaijan team.

84 mins: Johansson has been piling goals in in Holland this season, and now he comes off the bench to grab one here as Azerbaijan finally begin to crumble. And seems those unflattering comparisons to Donovan have rather stuck in Brad Davis's craw. He's been involved in both goals and a real threat since he came on.

Now Johansson does some busy work down the right channel to keep Azerbaijan pinned back.

GOAL! USA 2-0 Azerbaijan (Johansson)

Beautiful corner curled in from Davis and an unmarked Johansson flicks his header perfectly into the top near corner!

80 mins: Nasty looking challenge on Yedlin by Aliyev has the USA bench holding their breath for a second. The young defender is up, but wincing, now.

Yedlin's fine, evidently. He just charged forward to force a corner as Davis tried to find him with a raking ball from the left...

78 mins: Bradley surges into space on the right of the box, but his touch deserts him as he tries to tuck the ball inside for Davis, who'd popped up in a dangerous position again.

Diskerud has that quality to appear off the bench and do...something. It's been repeatedly shown in the most recent cycle. Now he shows up again near the penalty spot to meet a low cross from Altidore, but his shot is immediately blocked.

GOAL! USA 1-0 Azerbaijan (Diskerud!)

Another set piece finally comes off, as a ball into the box is fired low at goal by Bradley. it's blocked on the line but the first one to the ball is Diskerud. The USA's new number 10 scores straight off the bench!

74 mins: Yedlin has a lot of speed and a debatable amount of sense about when to go forward as yet. Such limited opportunities as he may get off the bench in this may represent a steep learning curve.

72 mins: Diskerud, by the way, is wearing the number 10 jersey.

Yedlin barges into Budak, as Jones looks to play him in with a smart ball over the top. Budak is laid out momentarily.

70 mins: USA have a free kick central, 40 yards out. They take it short and forced it wide right, then back the other way, looking for a way through this densely packed Azerbaijan defense. They get a corner, just as Mix Diskerud comes on for Bedoya, who's had a solid enough game, especially in the first half.

Chandler hits a shot high and not that handsome from distance... Medvedev comes in for Abisov for Azerbaijan. Still USA 0-0 Azerbaijan

68 mins: Budak's cross from the left is too deep, but the USA can't get out of their half just yet. Finally Howard collects and is able to throw it out, but the US concede possession cheaply again. Azerbaijan don't particularly threaten with it, but they've succeeded in thwarting the USA right now.

66 mins: Lovely little trick by Altidore loses his man on the left, but his low cross doesn't clear the first man — he can't catch a break right now. Game has lost what little momentum it had gained after half time. Will there be a late surge by the USA?

Yedlin gets a lively introduction as he wrestles with Aliyev down the right.

64 mins: Altidore throws his head back in frustration as Bradley nudges a ball to him on the edge of the box, and the Sunderland striker spins, but misjudges the bounce of the ball so that his kick shanks high over the bar.

Meanwhile Sean Michaels has continued to carry out Socratic dialogue with himself on Twitter and has settled into gentle, philosophical acceptance now:

Sean Michaels (@rattle_sssnake)

then again i've been begging for a moratorium on Landon Donovan mentions so I guess I should just get over it.

62 mins: ...it's cleared. pretty easily in the end and ALtidore is given rather too much to do in chasing a hopeful long clearance. Still USA 0-0 Azerbaijan after an hour and that's the cue for Yedlin to come on for Johnson and Johansson for Wondolowski. What can they do?

60 mins: Another less than stellar touch from Bradley, by his standards, as he tries to curl a cross to the back post and ends up sending it way long, after he'd done the good work to dispossess an Azerbaijan player in midfield. Cavadov comes off by the way for Nazarov. Meanwhile USA have just conceded a corner...

58 mins: Davis is seizing his chance to impress at the moment as he pops up on the right now and opens up his body on the edge of the box for a shot before slipping the ball to Bradley, who blazes over.

56 mins: More USA players warming up as the hour mark approaches. Altidore takes a quick cross field free kick to Chandler but Azerbaijan regroup before USA can overload down the left.

Indeed it's Azerbaijan who are more dangerous in the next sequence as Aliyev gets to fire a low ball across goal with nobody running in. Klinsmann may have taken a note just there.

54 mins: Another surging run from Brad Davis, this time deep into the box. He's looking to get the ball on his left foot, but can't and his hopeful poke goal wards is cleared, But Azerbaijan beginning to look a little stretched right now, and Davis has made a good start.

Now it's a decent Azerbaijan move in the USA half. Neat interplay down the left and eventually Bedoya steps across to block Garayev.

52 mins: Chandler gets forward but is blocked of the ball, with Azerbaijan sitting in very deep again. It's reminding me a little of the Mexico game at this point. Not in terms of formations or how it's unfolding, but just the fact that the opposition is set up in a way that's not looking like a particularly relevant challenge for the competitive games to come. Unless Germany et al are planning to bunker against the USA...

50 mins: Azerbaijan living dangerously again as Brad Davis is brought down on the edge of the box (replays show it looked about a yard inside the box). Bradley whips the ball in with the wind and it's just over the bar. As the replays are played of the initial incident it looks really clear that that should have been a penalty rather than a free kick. That could have really settled the USA. As it is it's still 0-0.

47 mins: Couple of subs in. Chandler in for Beasley. David in for Zusi. Gonzalez in for Cameron. And Huseynov in for Abisov for Azerbaijan. Gonzalez straight into action making a block tackle on Aliyev as he shapes to shoot in the box.

Some more tweets:

leopold bloom (@leopoldbloom16)

Wondolowski's going to need to do better with his chances because they aren't going to get easier than that

The first one in particular found him in the sort of space, that someone like say, ooh, Rafa Marquez, would have done better in ( he really was very unmarked).

Sean Michaels has been keeping up a regular monologue with your humble and harried minute by minute reporter.

Sean Michaels (@rattle_sssnake)

oh cool. you are still checking the tweets. gonna address those fictional 'selection issues' you talked about?

Sean Michaels (@rattle_sssnake)

Dempsey created his own issues by leaving Fulham. Roma ADORED Bradley. Bradley and Dempsey love cash more than soccer.

Not ignoring you Sean — just pecking at keyboard haplessly trying to keep up with events (I used to be a 300 word a minute typist until I took the Guardian big bucks to cover MLS and US Soccer). Um, let's see. We just disagree. There.

And while Bradley was loved by a lot of Roma fans, he was not particularly in the favors of Rudi Garcia by the end of his stay and clearly felt the writing was on the wall for him. As for Dempsey creating his own issues by going to Spurs, surely that's the sort of step up in ambition you'd approve of. As for the cash more than soccer comment, I'll let others weigh in on that as the second half just started...

Half time thoughts:

So a reasonable sparring session for the first half, with the USA creating chances, occasionally getting little passages of flowing play and...not scoring. The positives include some smart movement and touches by Zusi, Bradley's usual metronomic neatness, and some decent industry by Bedoya. Perhaps we should throw in no yellow card for Jones, given the referee's trigger happy reputation.

Negatives are the loss of Dempsey before a ball had been kicked, depriving us of perhaps seeing the starting line up against Ghana as it's meant to be seen. And Altidore's done bits of hard work here and there, but has also made certain parts of his play in the box look like hard work, rather than looking like the instinctive redactor he did around this time last year (Oh Sunderland). He could, I'll say it again, do with a goal.

For their part Azerbaijan have down what we expected. They've sat deep and tried to take their chances with set pieces and occasional counters. And they came close to causing a problem with Shukurov's free kick.

Let's see how the subs change this one in the second half. We can have up to six for each side.

Half-time: USA 0-0 Azerbaijan

Half time thoughts in a minute.

45 mins +1: Altidore is brought down near the left corner of the box and the US will have at least one more chance. Zusi curls it to the back post, but it's headed clear, and that will be that for the half...

44 mins: From the second corner the USA break at speed, but for once Zusi makes the wrong decision and from having men over, the USA attack breaks down.

We're going to have a minute of time added on.

42 mins:

The Yanks Are Coming (@YanksAreComing)

US fans hoping Altidore had forgotten about Sunderland may need to wait until the Turkey match. At best. Miserable half hour.

Other players have looked livelier tonight for sure, and he's taken one too many touches on occasion, but there was a glimpse of Altidore's value in his hold up play just now. Still needs a goal.

But the USA have some defending to do now as they concede a couple of corners in succession.

40 mins: Beasley takes a throw in. He's been quiet tonight, and given this formation, has been much more cautious about staying at home more than he did at times during qualifying.

That said, Johnson, on the other flank, does get forward now to continue a move Altidore did well to keep moving by holding off a couple of markers and spinning the ball inside for Bradley. Decent move by the USA but still USA 0-0 Azerbaijan with half-time approaching.

38 mins: Bedoya lets fly from the edge of the box and forces Agayev to parry, but there's no red shirt to pounce on the rebound.

Strange sequence now, as a wickedly deflected Bradley shot skews wide for Wondolwoski, who wraps his foot round the ball to send a stinging shot in from an acute angle, but only into the side-netting.

36 mins: Zusi gets down the left again and sends a sweet looking cross into the box again, but as the ball deflects towards Altidore he never looks like having the shape or space to shoot. And he doesn't. You have to feel that this game is set up in part so that Altidore can get a confidence-boosting goal or two tonight, but he's had no clear look yet.

34 mins: So half-time beginning to loom and now Bradley gets his head up in space and charges forward into the opposing half, but the door closes as he tries to find Wondolowski.

Bedoya gets his head up and chips a ball over the top of the defense, but there's nobody there.

32 mins: Altidore swivels, spins, shapes to shoot, and other alliterative moves, but his shot is blocked.

USA have a corner though. Zusi sends in an out swinger and it's met by his MLS team mate Besler, who sends the ball over the bar.

30 mins: So half an hour gone and it's still USA 0-0 Azerbaijan with the USA building up a little momentum again without forcing many clear chances.

Nasty looking challenge from Ramaldanov absolutely levels Bedoya with a distinctly unfriendly challenge. 59 reds in 97 games from referee Henry Bejerano by the way, but not so much as a yellow here. Bedoya is up on his feet.

28 mins: Bradley and Zusi try to combine on the edge of the box, but the ball won't quite fall for either of them to get a shot off. Klinsmann watches with the look of a man who just received a marginally more inflated property tax bill than his zoning had led him to expect.

He probably looks more perplexed now as Altidore has a good shout for a handball of Ramaldanov in the box, but the referee waves him away.


26 mins: Aliyev sends a decent long throw into the US box, but Howard claims it comfortably and the USA start another move upfield. A minute later though Besler has to be very careful with his header back to Howard with Aliyev lurking behind him. Besler does it simply enough though.

24 mins: So those two Wondolowski chances remain the best USA opportunities so far. You could forgive the first one given his sudden "Who, me?" intro into the game just moments earlier, when he'd probably expected at least a half's worth of playing Words with Friends on the bench. But Clint Dempsey's groin did for that. His withdrawal is being described as "purely precautionary" now.

22 mins: Another USA attack breaks down, as the game begins to get a little ragged for a moment. More as we get it...

20 mins: Game calms down for a moment. It's still USA 0-0 Azerbaijan, and Sean Michaels has been tweeting again, claiming it's "a given" that Bradley and Dempsey have hurt the USA's chances by returning from Europe and wanting to know why they've done it. Thing is, given the selection issues both faced, I'm not sure it is "a given", so it's hard to move on to the next part of his query.

18 mins: Bedoya scampers down the left and s fouled in a dangerous position near the corner of the box. Zusi rather scuffs his free kick, but he's involved again a minute later — getting to the byline and forcing another corner. In the next sequence Jones steps up and has a a shot that deflects tamely into Agayev's arms, but this is poking a little better from the USA, and Zusi in particular has looked lively early on.

16 mins: Corner is worked short by Bedoya and Zusi then crossed into the box where Wondolowski gets up well to pick a decent header on target again, buy Agayev reacts brilliantly to tip it over and the USA can make nothing of the second corner. Another presentable chance for Wondo...

14 mins: Some better USA approach play now as Bradley works an interchange driving forward, and feeds Zusi out wide. His low cross is forced out for a corner...

12 mins: The planned tenth minute tribute to Landon Donovan front he American Outlaws doesn't really seem to be too discernible. Or possibly it suffered the same haphazard fate as the anthem.

Meanwhile there's another warning for the USA as Shukurov gets a dangerous free kick over the wall and rattles the outside of Howard's post. The visitors are having their moments here.

10 mins: Still USA 0-0 Azerbaijan as we reach the ten minute mark, but the hosts get another chance as Wondolowski is bundled off the ball to the left of the box. Another set piece chance for Zusi. His inswinger to the back post just evades Altidore, then Jones returns the ball into the mix, and Shukurov heads clear. Some more USA pressure ends in Agayev gathering the ball.

8 mins: Warning for the USA as Besler gives the ball away sloppily, allowing Cavadov a pop from distance, that forces Howard to tip the ball over. Cavadov trots off to take the corner, full of confidence, then takes a confidence-denting corner that won't trouble the USA further.

6 mins: Now Altidore has a little sniff of goal, but the ball runs away from him at the crucial moment. USA settling, while Azerbaijan looking shaky at the back.

4 mins: We're hearing that the referee tonight is something of a red card happy chappy. Anyway, he's blown for the first foul down the right, giving Zusi a chance to send one into the box. And Wondolowski, who didn't expect to start, gets an immediate free header. It's a diving one, down and off the keeper's knee and out. Excellent chance and promising delivery from Zusi.

2 mins:Ball pings around midfield a little early on and Azerbaijan first to string a sequence of passes together. Cameron recovers, but USA can't hold the ball and Azerbaijan briefly camp in the USA half.

Kick Off

And we're underway...

Anthems and such: The Azerbaijan anthem has just drifted past us, and now the US fans are belting out a lustily out of synch version of the Star Spangled Banner, as their team clutch their hands to their breasts stoically. We'll be off shortly...

A tweet. A palpable tweet:

Sean Michaels (@rattle_sssnake)

do you think Bradley and Dempsey hurt chances because they wanted big paychecks? True 'Mericans wouldn't do that, right?

This is presumably a reference to those two coming back to MLS in recent months. And no. Not particularly. I'd be more worried about Dempsey's big "groin soreness" as it's currently being described...

Team News:

USA: Howard; Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Beasley; Jones, Zusi, Bedoya, Bradley; Wondolowski, Altidore

Azerbaijan: Aghayev; Abisov, Qarayev, Huseynov, Shukurov; Yunuszada, Budak, Amirquliyev, Ozkara; Aliyev, Cavadov

Well, here’s fodder for mischievous speculation — Dempsey was scheduled to play tonight, and we’re just hearing he’s been withdrawn tonight with a groin strain. Chris Wondolowski in in his place. Big night for him. Did Landon Donovan just sit up a little straighter in his armchair?

Interesting formation too from the USA, in that the team look like they’re lining up in that diamond midfield rather than a 4-2-3-1, with Jones asked to anchor the midfield to allow Bradley to play further up the field. It is of course the formation they experimented with against Mexico last time out, though that time Kyle Beckerman, was at the base of the diamond, as he is for his club side Real Salt Lake. Jones will be under a lot of scrutiny tonight to see if he can maintain his discipline as the holding man — it’s not always been a strength of his.



Azerbaijan may never have stood much chance of getting out of a World Cup group that contained Germany and Portugal, and at 85th in the world they’re not ranked quite as high as Haiti say, but Vogts has made them a difficult team to break down, and capable of breaking at speed.

They conceded eleven goals in ten qualifying games, generally playing in a 4-1-4-1 that broke into a 4-2-2-2 on the counter, where the principal threats up front are Rufat Dadashov, a deep-lying, much roving forward, playing just behind Rauf Aliyev. They also have something of a decent deep-lying playmaker in Ruslan Abishov, of Rubin Kazan, who the US midfield, in whatever configuration it ends up in tonight, will have to close down well.

Still, while this could be a test for the US, it’s not one they’d expect to slip up in. This should be a confidence building exercise for the USA, and perhaps specifically Jozy Altidore, though if things were to go dramatically wrong for the hosts it might be very entertaining to watch Berti Vogts trying to give subtle “calm down” hand signals.


So before we go any further, a quick note on just how important these three games are, beyond the obvious of "last games before World Cup" etc. Over the last three years Klinsmann has tried out a total of 46 players to get to the 23 at his disposal tonight — players drawn, at various times from MLS, the Mexican league, the Bundesliga, and the Premier league. At different times different players have been available for different dates, and it’s meant that it’s very hard to get a clear sense of how the personnel and tactical model for the team are developing in Klinsmann’s mind from game to game.

The Mexico game for example, was dominated by players playing in MLS (though it did see a debut for Bayern’s Julian Green) playing in a 4-4-2 diamond to counteract Mexico’s 3-5-2. Which sort of worked, but didn’t necessarily tell us a lot, or feel like a smooth continuation of the previous game — a differently staffed, differently set up game against Ukraine in Cyprus:

Ukraine 2-0 USA


So for Klinsmann, who finally has what he sees as his strongest aggregate player pool together to work with on a consistent basis, this is a crucial trio of games for getting this squad to gel. It’s a squad that has limited World Cup experience (only five players have played in previous World Cups), and which features a lot of young players from the MLS and German-American tendencies together Interestingly, the Mexican-American players who featured at various times over the past few years have tended to be conspicuous by their absence in the final 23.

It’s a squad that has prompted suggestions that faced with a group of death, Klinsmann and US Soccer have opted to put the focus on blooding a generation of players with World Cup 2018 in mind, but Klinsmann has been insistent that it is in fact a team that is based on his coaching team’s “constant monitoring” of players. These men, he will tell you, are the best the USA has right now.

With Bedoya and Zusi likely to flank Dempsey in a three man line behind Altidore up front, and Jones and Bradley at the base of midfield, the big question is over the back line. Omar Gonzalez seems to have drifted out of an automatic starting spot at just the wrong time, with injury and poor form meaning his qualifying campaign partner Matt Besler will likely be alongside Geoff Cameron at the heart of defense, with Fabian Johnson at right back and DaMarcus Beasley, heading into his fourth World Cup, on the left.

The defense have been a consistently reshuffled part of Klinsmann’s plans this cycle. Is this the line up to take it forward? Tim Howard will be hoping so — the US goalkeeper has spoken already about defenses needing to gell, and given the evidence of the Ukraine game, you can see why he’s so keen to have a line of four who know each others names. Let’s see how they come together, starting tonight…



So after “the Donovan weekend”, it’s the start of the rest of US soccer history (or something) tonight, as Jurgen Klinsmann’s final 23 man USA squad begin the series of three send off games before next month’s World Cup in Brazil. Sorry, we should have mentioned that — there’s a World Cup next month in Brazil.

The USA have been training at Stanford University over the past couple of weeks, and they're at Candlestick Park in San Francisco tonight, where they’ll be taking on Azerbaijan.

The question of "Why Azerbaijan?" may be partly answered when we mention the salient point that the Milli as they are known, are coached by one Berti Vogts aka the recently appointed “special advisor” to one Jurgen Klinsmann for the forthcoming World Cup. So there’s that. Vogts may have some interesting advice — since the Azerbaijan team played against Germany and Portugal, two of the USA’s World Cup opponents in qualifying, and he goes way back with the German set up, having coached Klinsmann himself in the 90’s, en route to a European Championship win.

Berti’s all Azerbaijan business tonight though:

“It's a friendly. It's a natural match. It's not a match about two friends.”

The Guardian, in all it's crunchy, granola-eating, glory, is of course a big fan of "natural matches" "holistic soccer" and "organic route one", so kudos to Berti for that. Shame about the "friends" comment though — after the pasting he’s had in some sections of the US soccer media these last few days, Jurgen could maybe do with a friend right now.

Indeed for all the various attempts to turn the page, the dropping of Donovan is likely to dominate the agenda for much of the remaining build up at the very least. If you missed how we at the Guardian covered it, you can read , and a more detailed response to the . And if you get really caught up in events you can even read about .

And before I come back with more build up and team news, you can also watch what happened the last time the USA played, against Mexico in April:

See you in a bit…