International Friendly recap: USMNT 2–1 Peru

The US defeated Peru, 2–1, on Friday night, behind two Jozy Altidore goals. The US was forced to come from behind, after a deflected first-half strike from Peru put the visitors ahead, but were equal to the challenge. While the overall performance was underwhelming, the US will look to build on it when they face Brazil next week (Tuesday, Sept. 8 at 8 pm: ESPN2, UniMás, Univision Deportes, SiriusXM FC).

First half

The US had the odd privilege of starting four center backs across its backline, in Tim Ream, John Brooks, Omar Gonzalez, and Michael Orozco, with DeAndre Yedlin no longer considered a defender in Jurgen Klinsmann’s eyes. Yedlin started on the right wing, Jermaine Jones returned to midfield alongside Alejandro Bedoya, with Gyasi Zardes on the other wing, and Bobby Wood partnered Jozy Altidore in a 4-4-2.

Early on, the US took the initiative. Both Zardes anf Yedlin were able to get at their fullbacks and send in dangerous crosses that troubled the Peru defense. Peru had one or two opportunities on the counter, but by fifteen minutes, the game had settled into a stalemate played between the boxes.

But in the 20th, the US was stung. Peru was holding the ball harmlessly outside the US box, then passed just to the edge of it, to Daniel Chavez. Gonzales was giving the Peru attacker too much space. He realized his mistake as Chavez turned, but could not prevent the shot, which deflected off of him and looped over Brad Guzan and into the net. The deflection was wicked, but the center back’s positioning was poor.

Peru was enlivened by their goal, and began to play the better soccer, though without testing the US too much. The US, playing without a true No. 10, looked devoid of any creativity, and the half looked ready to peter out. But in the 39th, Jones livened things up all on his own. Picking up a loose ball on the right wing, he drove central then hit a hard shot with his left foot that the keeper did very well to palm over the goal. On the ensuing corner kick, some head flicks gave the ball to Brooks on his preferred left foot, just inside the six, but he showed why he’s a defender and shanked it over the top.

That sparked a series of US chances. A fantastic ball from Ream put Zardes through for a hard shot from a tight angle that the keeper again saved. Then in the 42nd, Altidore pounced on a poor back pass and rounded the keeper but was pushed too wide. His eventual cross was pushed out for a corner, which Gonzalez powered into the ground just wide of the goal.

But the equalizer didn’t come, and the US entered the locker room with a one-goal deficit.

Second half

Mix Diskerud, Ventura Alvarado, and Geoff Cameron entered for Orozco, Gonzalez, and Bedoya. The changes did little to energize the US, and the game was stagnant for the first 13 minutes. But in the 58th, Altidore took down a throw-in and flicked it up over his defender into the box. As he turned to track it down, his defender took him to the ground—penalty. Altidore’s attempt was saved, but he put away the rebound to level the scores.

In the 67th, a Peru free kick was headed at goal. Guzan did nicely to save, and he got in front of the rebound, as well, but while he covered the ball with his legs, the Peru attacker continued kicking at the ball, and Guzan, much to the US’s ire. But their anger would be short-lived. From the restart, Altidore fed the ball high right in the box for Yedlin. Yedlin tried to cut the ball back to Altidore, but it was deflected away. The ball found Zardes on the left side, instead, who fired a shot on goal. The ball was blocked, but fell for Altidore at the back post, who finished first time. The US took the lead, 2–1.

With the lead, the US didn’t push as hard, but Peru couldn’t find a way to get behind the US backline, even with a healthy possession advantage. As the clock ticked down, they managed a few dangerous crosses that required cutting out, but nothing the US was not equal to. In the first minute if stoppage time, a Peru shot dipped over Guzan and skimmed the top of the US net, but the US survived and won, despite the referee adding more than two additional minutes of extra time for no apparent reason.

US verdict

The US comes from behind: Reversing a year-long trend, the US gave up the first goal then scored in the second half to win. And with second half substitutes Matt Besler and Danny Williams on, the defense was calmer and more assured. This wasn’t a great game from the US, but those are some positives.

Jozy’s a front-runner: After scoring, Jozy started doing all the things that make him great. But it took scoring to get him there. In other words, he’s a confidence player. He needs to find that confidence and drive to contribute earlier and easier.

Where’s the creativity? The team looked better with Mix Diskerud on, but hardly like an offensive juggernaut. “Run fast, try hard” has been a successful formula for the US for a long time, but it’s getting old.

This doesn’t look like a team that can beat Mexico: Good thing Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey are coming. But there are other players in the pool that could have helped tonight but that Klinsmann doesn’t seem to rate, Benny Feilhaber chief among them. The longer the team struggles, the harder that is to understand.

Final thoughts

This was not a great game for the US. A win is never unwelcome, but the performance was not a good one. There was very little spark offensively, and the lack of fullbacks trusted by Klinsmann resulted in seven center back playing on the night, which is laughable. The team must improve if they hope to defeat Mexico in a month, let alone Brazil in four days.

1-Brad Guzan; 15-Michael Orozco (20-Geoff Cameron, 46), 3-Omar Gonzalez (19-Ventura Alvarado, 46), 6-John Brooks (5-Matt Besler, 63), 23-Tim Ream; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 13-Jermaine Jones (14-Danny Williams, 72), 11-Alejandro Bedoya (10-Mix Diskerud, 46), 21-Gyasi Zardes; 17-Jozy Altidore (capt.), 18-Bobby Wood (9-Aron Johannsson, 71)
Subs Not Used: 7-Alfredo Morales, 12-Tim Howard, 24-Joe Corona, 26-Andrew Wooten
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

1-Pedro Gallese; 5-Carlos Zambrano, 6-Juan Manuel Vargas, 8-Christian Cueva (13-Edison Flores, 82), 10-Jefferson Farfan, 16-Carlos Lobaton (capt.) (19-Victor Yotun, 72), 17-Luis Advincula, 18-Andre Carrillo (7-Paolo Hurtado, 64), 21-Josepmir Ballon (24-Renato Tapia, 64), 22-Carlos Ascues, 23-Daniel Chavez (14-Ivan Bulos Guerrero, 82)
Subs Not Used: 2-Jair Cespedes, 3-Hansell Riojas, 4-Pedro Requena, 9-Jose Paolo Guerrero, 12-Diego Penny, 15-Christian Ramos, 20-Joel Sanchez
Head coach: Ricardo Gareca

Scoring Summary
PER – Daniel Chávez (Andre Carrillo) — 20th minute
USA – Jozy Altidore — 59
USA – Jozy Altidore (Gyasi Zardes) — 68

Misconduct Summary
USA – John Brooks (caution) — 48th minute
USA – Jozy Altidore (caution) — 86

Stats Summary (USA / PER)
Shots: 16 / 15
Shots on Goal: 7 / 4
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 6 / 6
Fouls: 11 / 13
Offside: 1 / 1

Referee: Francisco Chacon (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Miguel Angel Hernandez (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Rangel (MEX)
4th Official: Fernando Guerrero (MEX)

Venue: RFK Stadium; Washington, D.C.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Attendance: 28,896
Weather: 83 degrees; Mostly cloudy, humid

One Comment

  1. “What is it?
    It’s it.
    What is it?…”
    – Faith No More
    Consider me the goldfish gasping for air as the music video ends.

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