SAN FRANCISCO — For the first 75 minutes of this international friendly, Ghana giggled, Portugal partied and Germany jumped for joy. The other members of the World Cup's Group G couldn't have been too impressed by the performance of the Americans against unheralded Azerbaijan.
But the final stretches of the game provided a glimpse of what the U.S. Men's National Team might bring to Brazil. Midfielder Mix Diskerud, who had entered the game as a substitute just four minutes earlier, scored in the 75th minute to break a scoreless deadlock, and forward Aron Johnansson added a header six minutes later to make the final score 2-0.
“It was a tricky game,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “ ... Obviously, in a game like that you want to score a bit earlier, get that goal in the first half already if possible.”
The U.S. team recently completed a tough two-week training camp at Stanford, and this was the squad's first competitive action since Klinsmann trimmed his roster to 23 men on Thursday. They looked appropriately rusty.
The Americans dominated the action for most of the game, with 14 shots to Azerbaijan's seven and seven shots on goal to the visitors' two. But they were sometimes sloppy and frequently predictable, and a draw seemed likely until Diskerud came through with a pinball goal.
It started with a free kick by Brad Davis from the left side. Azerbaijani defender Ilkin Girtimov headed the ball but failed to clear it, and U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley fired a shot from near the edge of the box. Another defender, Elvin Yunuszade, made a nifty left-footed stop on the goal line, but Diskerud slotted the rebound into the right side of the net.