U.S. rolls past Azerbaijan in friendly

 

The Sports Network

San Francisco, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Mix Diskerud and Aron Johannsson scored inside the final 15 minutes on Tuesday as the United States men's national team came away with a 2-0 victory over Azerbaijan in an international friendly at Candlestick Park.

Playing in their first match since manager Jurgen Klinsmann announced his 23- man roster for the World Cup, which surprisingly did not include Landon Donovan, the Americans still needed to sort out some things before heading to Brazil.

Despite news of Donovan being left off the roster, the biggest question mark for the U.S. is who will be the starting central defense pairing when the side faces Ghana on June 16.

With regular starter Omar Gonzalez nursing an injury, DaMarcus Beasley and Geoff Cameron started together, but were rarely tested in the opening stages as the hosts created a handful of quality scoring chances in the first 15 minutes.

Clint Dempsey was named to the starting 11 ahead of the match, but was scratched just before kickoff due to groin soreness and replaced by Chris Wondolowski.

The Americans didn't miss a beat with Wondolowski up top as the first chance came in just the fourth minute when Graham Zusi floated a free kick onto the head of Wondolowski, whose powerful header was parried away by Azerbaijan goalkeeper Kamran Agayev.

The visitors had an opportunity to strike in the 12th minute when a free kick from Mahir Sukurov smacked the right post, but rolled harmlessly out of play.

The U.S. found it difficult to break down a stubborn Azerbaijan back line in the first half and went into the break scoreless.

The pace slowed considerably in the second half, but the hosts finally found a breakthrough in the 75th minute when a free kick from Brad Davis was knocked down in the penalty area. Michael Bradley had a go from the edge of the area that was stopped by Agayev, but Diskerud, who was wearing Donovan's former No. 10 kit, was on the doorstep to fire home his third career international goal.

Six minutes later the Americans made it 2-0 when Davis served an excellent left-footed corner kick into the box onto the head of Johannsson, who did well to rise up and power a header into the top right corner of the net.

The Americans coasted the rest of the way to earn the victory in the first of three tune-up matches ahead of the World Cup.

Klinsmann's team will next be in action on Sunday against Turkey at Red Bull Arena.

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