Twenty days until the US opens World Cup play against Ghana in Brazil and the US opened their warmup matches with Azerbaijan in San Francisco. It is a chance for the men to solidify their places for the World Cup and work out the kinks before heading south. The big news pre-match was Clint Dempsey being pulled from the lineup with a sore hamstring. Seems to be a precautionary move....at least let's hope! Chris Wondolowski replaced him.
And Wondo should have opened the scoring in the 3rd minute as he got on the end of a perfect Graham Zusi free kick. Unfortunately he put his diving header straight into the keeper with the whole goal gaping.
Minutes later Matt Besler gifted Azerbaijan there first chance as his errant pass out of the back set up a Javadov strike that Tim Howard turned out for a corner. Mistakes like that in the back will be harshly punished in Brazil.
The visitors almost put home a free kick in the 12th but the ball swerved off the outside of the frame. Despite going into a stiff wind the Americans were needing to pick it up and they answered right back as Wondolowski saw his header well saved by the Azerbaijan keeper.
The Americans created a few more chances, but were unable to score as the match went scoreless to the break. Brad Davis came on at the restart and within minutes earned what should have been a penalty kick. The foul clearly occurred inside the area, but the referee placed the ball outside despite being only a few yards away at the time of the foul.
It took 74 minutes but finally the Americans were able to put a ball into the Azerbaijan net. A set piece fell to Michael Bradley who fired at goal from ten yards. The ball beat the keeper but was blocked off the line by a defender. The rebound sat nicely for substitute Mix Diskerud to put home. A very important goal as a scoreless draw would not have been inspiring at all.
No need to worry about the score line as a few minutes later it was 2-0 off another set piece. A corner kick found a wide open Aron Johannsson who easily headed home. There are simply very few teams in the world with the set piece quality of the USA.