The US Men’s National Team was never as good a team as indicated when they beat the Netherlands and Germany away from home. Nor were they as bad as indicated when they played a sub-par Gold Cup. The truth often lies in between. And Friday night’s performance against Peru followed much of the same script.
The first half was a slog. The United States were being dramatically outpossessed by Peru, who did not do all that much with their possession, outside of a couple of set piece opportunities and the fortunate goal from Daniel Chavez. The US was inviting pressure into the flanks, almost conceding them from the off, but Peru did not threaten all that often. It was the US with the better chances.
Jurgen Klinsmann responded in kind at the start of the second half with three changes that included Mix Diskerud coming on for Alejandro Bedoya. And while it has been a tough season for Diskerud, he provided a spark in midfield that allowed the US to do something against a Peru team that seemed awfully casual throughout the match. The star of the show was Jozy Altidore who, even outside of his brace, was bossing the match with his hold-up play and through balls, one of which set up his own second goal. It was an inspiring performance from a player the US needs to be in form if they’re to beat Mexico in a month.
While it was not a complete performance from the US, it was a second half that re-invigorated a sluggish side that needed juice. By no means at full strength, Jurgen Klinsmann responded with adjustments that made his team play faster and sharper through midfield, which meant the team looked as good as it had since the Germany game three months ago.
There are still problems, however. The first half was a slog in which next to nothing was generated, thanks in large part to Bedoya being played out of position in central midfield, and Jermaine Jones looking rusty as he tries to regain fitness. Omar Gonzalez didn’t cover himself in glory on the Daniel Chavez goal, though to be fair he didn’t have much else to do the rest of the match. Tim Ream and Gyasi Zardes were standouts on the left side for the US all match, and may give Jurgen some tough decisions to make come the Brazil match on Tuesday.
Is this a performance that will set the world alight? No. But it is one that the US needed in a bad way, and with Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey returning to the fold against Brazil, we may finally have a clue as to what this team will look like when they take the field at the Rose Bowl against Mexico in the one game Confederations Cup Playoff.
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