Jozy Altidore scored not one, but two goals as the US Men’s National Team defeated Nigeria, 2-0, on Saturday night in Jacksonville in the final Send-Off Series match before the Americans fly out to Brazil tomorrow for the World Cup, which starts this Thursday.
For the United States, this was their best performance of the past three games as they got the result that they were looking in their final game before Ghana on June 16th. The back line played, apart from the late penalty, better than in the past couple of games, but of course there is still a few things to iron out there. The most important part is that Altidore found the back of the net twice, ending a very long scoring drought just ahead of the World Cup.
31′ Altidore: Altidore finally did, breaking a scoreless drought, for both club and country, that went all the way back to December, 2013. The play was set up after Alejandro Bedoya found open space down the right sideline where he found an incoming Fabian Johnson, who crossed the ball over to a wide open Altidore in front of the net to tap it in for the goal.
68′ Altidore: Now this was a great goal by Altidore, as he seems to be getting even more confidence with the second score. Michael Bradley laid it into Altidore with a great pass from about 20 yards away. Altidore picked up the ball on the left side of the box, then muscled his way around a defender and rocketed the ball in for the goal.
86′ Moses (penalty): Matt Besler took down the Nigerian ball-handler in the box for an easy penalty call. Calm, cool and collected Moses sent Tim Howard the wrong way to cut the lead in half, 2-1.
Rest of the game and thoughts
All along, I’ve thought that one of the biggest things during this Send-Off Series what that Altidore had to find the net at least once, and he finally did that with the two goals in this match. He said all along that not scoring in a long time didn’t have any effect on him, but you have to think that this gives him a nice shot of confidence heading into Brazil.
No forward for the United States has score in a World Cup since 2002, and the US will need Altidore to be a factor during group play.
Jurgen Klinsmann went with a pretty interesting lineup to start the game, going with a 4-2-3-1, using Michael Bradley up on the front line of the midfield, slotted in the middle as the point-man. He created several nice passes, including the one to Altidore for his second goal.
Besler looked good as one of the center backs, and is starting to become a good factor for the USA defense. More importantly on defense, Johnson looked really good as the right back in this match, a position that was questioned a few weeks ago. Johnson was going a good job of keeping up with speedy defenders, and was even getting into the action on attacks, assisting with the first Altidore goal.
That’s it. Next stop: Brazil. Three wins in three games for the US before leaving the country for the next couple of weeks, at least.