Altidore's brace sends U.S. off in style

 

The Sports Network

Jacksonville, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Jozy Altidore scored on either side of the intermission on Saturday as the United States completed a sweep of a trio of pre-World Cup matches with a 2-1 win over Nigeria at EverBank Field.

Following wins over Azerbaijan and Turkey, the Americans entered the final send-off game before boarding a plane to Brazil with some lingering questions about the starting center back pairing as manager Jurgen Klinsmann has yet to settle on a preferred tandem.

Altidore, meanwhile, has struggled with his goal-scoring form but got off the mark at the perfect time as his tallies were the first goals he has scored in 2014 for club or country.

Saturday's lineup was probably closest to what will be seen against Ghana on June 16 with Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron in central defense, DaMarcus Beasley on the left and Fabian Johnson on the right.

The Americans had the better of the play early on and created their first quality chance in the 24th minute when Michael Bradley had a strike from distance, but Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama parried the ball out of play.

The hosts opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when Johnson did well to get down the wing and cross the ball into the box for a wide-open Altidore, who tapped it home for his first goal since Dec. 4.

It was 2-0 for the Americans in the 68th minute when Altidore showed some exceptional individual skill as he took a long ball from Bradley down with his chest, took a touch to the inside and ripped it past Enyeama to the near post.

Goalkeeper Tim Howard earned his 100th cap for the United States and desperately wanted to keep a clean sheet, but Nigeria pulled one back with four minutes to play after Victor Moses converted a penalty kick.

Nigeria summoned some attacking confidence in the final few minutes, but the American defense held up and came away with the victory.

Klinsmann's side will now board a plane headed for Brazil and prepare for their first World Cup group stage match against Ghana on June 16 in Natal.

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