USMNT open new World Cup cycle with win over Czech Republic

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

PRAGUE, Czech Republic – Friendly matches should always be taken with a grain of salt. However, the U.S. Men’s National Team program certainly deserve their share of plaudits after a 1-0 victory over host Czech Republic.

Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya slotted home a rebound from fellow World Cup veteran Mix Diskerud’s in the 39th minute and the youthful U.S. defense did the rest to open up the new USMNT cycle with a victory.

While they started on a flat foot, the U.S. showed life on attack and in possession, despite featuring a C-level side. Captain Jozy Altidore combined well with Joe Gyau in the 17th minute to test Petr Cech — the first real challenge of the match. Julian Green remained active throughout his shift, pressing the Czech fullbacks, but allowed a key giveaway that the home side nearly converted for a goal.

That error was soon forgotten thanks to a rare distributive mistake on the part of Cech. Vladimir Darida conceded possession to Mix Diskerud, leaving the midfielder in space. Cech stopped the initial blast but teammate Alejandro Bedoya was there to clean it up for the eventual game winner.

The U.S. conceded possession to the Czechs in the second half after a series of substitutions weakened the effectiveness of the team. The Americans started with both Nick Rimando and Tim Ream entering the match for Guzan and Orozco. Rimando became a major story of the half, saving four quality chances and keeping the Czechs off the scoresheet. Eventually, Brek Shea, Alfredo Morales, Emerson Hyndman and Greg Garza each made their way into the match, fending off a relentless Czech attack.

While youth was certainly the focus leading into the encounter, several team veterans played a significant role in containing the Czech Republic. Both Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando had key moments against the home attackers. Rimando had a particularly tough time against a pressing Czech side in his half of play, but made several key saves to keep the U.S. in contention.

World Cup defender John Brooks continued to show signs as the future anchor of the U.S. defensive corps, with fellow central defenders Michael Orozco and Tim Ream doing their part to shut out the home side as well. As for the much-talked about youth movement, there were flashes of promise and moments of confusion — par for the course when talking about developing talent. Joe Gyau looked fleet of foot, but lacked quality and possession on the ball. Much-heralded Julian Green was spry, but again looked small against larger international competition.

Overall, it was a promising outing for the U.S., and one that can serve as a spring board for these youngsters (and even some veterans) to make their case for regular inclusion.

The U.S. end their international window at Prague and look towards October where they host Ecuador at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 10, at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut, followed by a match against Honduras at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 14, at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida.

-U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report-

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Czech Republic
Date: Sept. 3, 2014
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Generali Arena; Prague, Czech Republic
Kickoff: 2:15 p.m. ET
Attendance: 12,642
Weather: 62 degrees, partly cloudy

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                        1 0 1
CZE                         0 0 0

USA – Alejandro Bedoya              39th minute

Lineups:
USA: 12-Brad Guzan (22-Nick Rimando, 46); 23-Fabian Johnson, 4-Michael Orozco (5-Tim Ream, 46), 6-John Brooks, 21-Timmy Chandler (3-Greg Garza, 63); 11-Alejandro Bedoya (8-Emerson Hyndman, 67), 15-Joe Corona (13-Brek Shea, 63), 10-Mix Diskerud (2-Alfredo Morales, 63); 7-Joe Gyau, 17-Jozy Altidore (capt.), 16-Julian Green
Substitutions Not Used: 9-Jordan Morris, 14-Rubio Rubin, 18-Bobby Wood
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

CZE: 1-Petr Cech; 2-Pavel Kaderabek (17-Radim Reznik, 46), 5-Vaclav Prochazka, 3-Michal Kadlec, 8-David Limbersky; 22-Vladimir Darida (9-Borek Dockal, 79), 19-Petr Jiracek (13-Lukas Vacha, 46), 10-Tomas Rosicky (capt.); 6-Vaclav Pilar (12-Milan Petrzela, 46), 7-Ladislav Krejci (11-Daniel Pudil, 69), 20-Matej Vydra (14-Daniel Kolár, 46)
Substitutions Not Used: 4-Marek Suchy, 15-Ondrej Mazuch, 16-Tomás Vaclik, 18-Tomas Horava, 21-Josef Sural, 23-David Bicík
Head coach: Pavel Vrba

Stats Summary: USA / CZE
Shots: 7 / 10
Shots on Goal: 5 / 5
Saves: 5 / 4
Corner Kicks: 4 / 5
Fouls: 8 / 5
Offside: 1 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Alfredo Morales (caution)          90th+1 minute

Officials:
Referee: István Vad (HUN)
Assistant Referee 1: Robert Kispal (HUN)
Assistant Referee 2: Vencel Tóth (HUN)
Fourth Official: Petr Blazej (CZE)

Budweiser Man of the Match: Alejandro Bedoya