The USMNT got a key win against Peru last night, however showed they need to improve on some things before their big match against Mexico next month.
By Jeff Weisinger
Coming off of a disappointing finish at this summer’s Gold Cup, the storyline behind the United States Men’s National team was how Jurgen Klinsmann’s re-constructed roster would fare in a pair of friendlies against Peru and Brazil.
The American’s came back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to beat Peru 2-1 Friday night at RFK Stadium in the nation’s capital behind a pair of goals by captain Jozy Altidore.
The USMNT went down in the 20th minute on a goal by Peru’s Daniel Chavez, who’s shot from outside the box deflected off of defender Omar Gonzalez and dropped into the top right corner of Brad Guzan’s net. The United States rallied back in the second as Altidore scored on an originally saved penalty kick which Altidore tapped back in on the rebound to tie the match at one apiece. Altidore’s second goal came on a pass by Gyasi Zardes, who drew Peru’s defenders and goalkeeper to the right side of the net then fund a wide open Altidore on the left post. Altidore tapped in the easy goal to put the USA up 2-1.
However, while the win is a big confidence booster for the USMNT going into a tough match against Brazil on Tuesday, Klinsmann’s group still has a lot to improve going forward.
But let’s start with the good things.
This looked like a faster team than in year’s past, especially with the pace that Zardes and DeAndre Yedlin bring out wide of the formation. Zardes set up the USMNT numerous times throughout the night, starting the attack on the left wing, drawing in Peru’s backline to double or even triple-team him, which opened up opportunities for the Americans to get into Peru’s box.
Yedlin did a good job of creating a bit on the right side out wide, however he was more instrumental on keeping up with Peru’s attack, closing in on would-be break away attackers, buying time for the rest of the backline to catch up.
Tim Ream had a solid game at the left back position and, despite being out of position, shut down Peru’s attack out wide on several occasions.
Brad Guzan’s double, maybe even triple-save in the second half with the game tied at one was an obvious game changer and even with Tim Howard returning to the USMNT, Guzan is continuing to prove that he belongs in the net.
The United States started the game very aggressively, keeping possession inside Peru’s attacking third for the first 15 minutes and for the last 15, 20 minutes of the games, putting early and late pressure on the Peruvians, nearly scoring in both of those time frames.
Then there’s the bad, or the things that the USMNT needs to work on if they’re going to beat Mexico on October 10.
Despite adding early and late pressure, the USMNT fizzled out and maybe even got tired in the middle portion of the match. Peru applied pressure on numerous occasions, however couldn’t finish their shots as well. Guzan wasn’t bombarded with shots, recording just three saves while allowing the one early goal, but Peru created opportunities in the U.S. attacking third that didn’t need to happen.
The backline had a solid night overall, however had mental lapses at certain moments. Gonzalez’s lack of pressure which led to Chavez’s goal in the 20th minute is something that the U.S. needs to correct right away. Gonzalez showed some hesitation in pressuring Chavez, giving room for the shot outside the box. He was lucky to get a leg on it, however the tip was unlucky for the Americans.
Defensively, Klinsmann needs to find a solid four that can work in the backline. Gonzalez and John Brooks looked uncomfortable overall in the center back positions, while Ream, Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler – the latter two subbing in late — looked solid in their shifts. Keep in mind, Ream and Cameron payed out of position in the left and right back positions, respectively.
Altidore scored a brace on Friday night, however it took him a while to get going. There was no chemistry whatsoever between him and Bobby Wood in the attacking front. Altidore’s pair of goals was a positive sight to see after his abysmal performance at the Gold Cup, however he could’ve and maybe should’ve had one or two more goals on the night, missing goals just shy of the net.
He’s now scored five times in his last three games and has scored 29 times in 84 international matches for the USMNT.
Wood did next to nothing opposite Altidore on the night and shouldn’t start against Brazil on Tuesday night. Aron Johannsson seemed to have a bigger impact in the attack in his shorter shift than Wood did.
While the win is great for the Americans, they need to tighten up the loose ends if they’re going to have a shot against Mexico next month in their biggest match since their date with Belgium in last year’s World Cup Round of 16.
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