So I'm finally getting around to watching the two USMNT friendlies against Peru and Brazil (that's how it goes when you have kids). Here's my thoughts as they happen (on DVR) on both matches.
USMNT vs PERU
0' I'll be honest, I'm a little surprised to see Jozy Altidore wearing the captain's armband, especially given his rough 2015. That said, with Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey both gone, I don't know who's a better candidate. Brad Guzan? Jermaine Jones? I guess this really isn't a veteran group out there. Hopefully he doesn't run his mouth and get sent off again. Speaking of Jermaine Jones, I still don't know how I feel about him. He definitely brings tenacity and athleticism, but I feel like it also comes with some shaky passing and a high risk of cautions. I guess when you look at the impact he has with his club team - the Revs are substantially better when he plays - it's not hard to draw a correlation to what he can do for the U.S. Anyhow, we're underway from RFK.
1' In addition to Bradley and Dempsey, the U.S. is also without Timmy Chandler, Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley due to injuries. Johnson is probably the biggest loss, but Klinsmann seems to believe Beasley will be starting against Mexico next month.
3' This is the sixth time that the U.S. has played Peru. Both countries have two wins in their first five meetings.
4' Gyasi Zardes with a dangerous ball in from the left side a little too close to the keeper, but forcing the action early. Pedro Gallese in net for Peru with the parry.
6' Bobby Wood back in action for the U.S. for the first time since his back-to-back game winners against the Netherlands and Germany. We'll see if he can provide that scoring touch that was missing from the U.S. during the Gold Cup.
7' Brad Guzan with a bit of a dangerous ball in the back end. With Tim Howard lurking in the wings, Guzan really needs to be on his game in these two matches.
8' If DeAndre Yedlin ever brings his crossing game up, he's going to be an insanely good player. He gets away with so much already thanks to his speed, but he's betrayed by his touch more than you'd like to see. As he gets ready for his first full season in England, it'll be interesting to see what that does for his all-around game.
14' Nice to see Tim Ream getting another shot with the U.S. after falling out of favor in the 2011 Gold Cup. Not sure he's the answer at left back though. Maybe as a holding midfielder since he seems to be a decent distributor.
15' Speaking of our backs, still no idea who are starting back four should be. Omar Gonzalez, Michael Orozco, Ream and John Brooks getting the nod against Peru.
16' Alejandro Bedoya starting in the middle of the field tonight alongside Jones. I think he's better suited for wide play, but obviously with Bradley out, someone else had to get the nod. I guess I'm a little surprised it's Bedoya and not someone like Mix Diskerud, but Mix has had a rough season in MLS so it's possible that's a factor.
18' Bobby Wood with an effort from well outside the box and it goes nowhere. Not a lot of threats to score from either side so far.
20' Guzan caught out of position as a shot by Daniel Chávez deflects off Omar Gonzalez up and over his head and into the back of the net. That's the first international goal for the 27 year old striker as Peru takes an early 1-0 lead. Not an ideal start for the U.S. who struggled with slow starts in the Gold Cup as well.
25' Peru with a lot of possession lately and now have another corner. The U.S. seems to be having a lot of trouble sustaining possession, something that doesn't bode well for the games ahead.
27' Every time I see Jozy Altidore sprinting after a ball, all I can think about are hamstrings... They just showed a graphic for possession, 57-43 in favor of Peru... Zardes with a cross but it's deflected harmlessly to Gallese.
29' Peru counters and ends up with a free kick in a dangerous position. Not much there on the foul, but the U.S. definitely got caught up allowing the counter.
30' Jefferson Farfán sends the free kick harmlessly over the bar. Farfán left Schalke 04 for Al Jazira in the United Arab Emirates in July.
31' Jermaine Jones taking a free kick now for the U.S. and I'm not sure I like that at all. I guess with this group though, other than Bedoya, you don't really have a ton of options. That said, why not Bedoya? Wouldn't you want Jones in the box where he can mix it up with the other big bodies? Finesse isn't exactly Jones' strong point.
35' For all of the defending the U.S. has been doing, Brad Guzan really hasn't been tested on anything other than the goal. I guess that's a good thing, I'd still rather have the ball though.
36' The commentators keep raving about Jozy Altidore and how he's finally showed up fit for the U.S. Haven't seen much from him in the first half though.
37' Another dangerous free kick near the top of the box for Peru as Bedoya commits a foul for the U.S.
38' 35 year-old Carlos Lobatón with the free kick and, like Farfán, sends his effort harmlessly over the bar.
39' Jermaine Jones with, by far, the U.S.'s best chance of the half with a wicked lefty shot from long range that Gallese tips over for a corner. Bedoya's corner gets headed away, but eventually falls to a wide open John Brooks who slams his effort a mile over the bar. Literally to the moon. Not good, John Brooks. Not good. Missed opportunity. Can't have that.
41' Zardes again dangerous down the wing forcing a block from Gallese and the rebound just misses Altidore. Zardes has been the best player for the U.S. this half.
42' Altidore intercepts a back pass, but his touch beyond the keeper goes too far and he's forced to settle for a cross which gets knocked out for a corner.
43' Omar Gonzalez wins the corner, but his header pushes wide. The U.S. attack starting to show some teeth. Finally. Still down 1-0 as halftime approaches.
44' Ream had a chance to rip in a cross, but settled for a short ball which was picked off and turned around for a counterattack. Coulda done better there.
45' No stoppage time in the first half and the U.S. heads into the locker room down 1-0. Some better play from the U.S. late in the half, but no goals to show for it.
Peru ended up with 59% possession in the first half. Not a winning formula if you ask me. Three subs to start the second half for the U.S.: Mix Diskerud for Alejandro Bedoya, Geoff Cameron for Michael Orozco and Ventura Alvarado for Omar Gonzalez. Peru taking their sweet time coming out of the tunnel as we await the second half kickoff.
46' The U.S. takes the opening kickoff and immediately sends a long ball out of bounds. That's why we only have 41% possession. And now John Brooks goes down after a head-to-head collision with Chávez.
48' Brooks shakes it off and we're back underway.
49' Brooks picks up a yellow for the first card of the night after tripping up Farfán around midfield.
51' Cameron feeds Yedlin down the right wing, but Yedlin's cross misses both Wood and Altidore. I'm telling you, if Yedlin had just a little more touch, he'd be amazing. Meanwhile, Zardes wins the U.S. another corner.
52' Diskerud's corner gets snagged by Gallese and Peru comes back the other way nearly creating another chance before Brooks and Guzan win back the ball for the U.S.
53' Alvarado with a bad turnover in the defensive third, but Peru can't do anything with it. Dodged a bullet there.
54' Zardes goes down looking for a call in the box, but gets nothing. Peru comes back the other way and thanks to some nifty defending by Ream wins the ball back. Didn't look like much on Zardes, good no call in my opinion.
55' Jermaine Jones still on the field for the U.S. after speculation he might only go 45 minutes. We'll see how much longer Klinsmann leaves him out there.
56' Ream with a couple nice plays at left back to start the second half. I'm still not sure he's the answer though, but it's nice to see him playing better in a U.S. jersey.
58' Altidore tripped up in the box by Carlos Zambrano. Not a great touch by Altidore, definitely bailed out by the Peruvian defender. Altidore to the spot to take the kick where he hasn't been great lately.
59' The penalty is saved, but the rebound takes a fortunate bounce back to Altidore and he hammers it home to tie the game at 1. Not a very well taken penalty by Altidore. I've to to ask, why is Jozy taking PKs?
60' Altidore skies an effort as the U.S. starts to gain some momentum. But seriously, is there no one on the field better than Jozy at taking penalties? Bobby Wood? Mix? I dunno. I mean, yeah, it's a friendly, but he doesn't seem like our best option. Maybe it's a captain thing. Anyways...
62' Zardes with a dangerous ball looking for Bobby Wood and it's another U.S. corner. Zardes continues to be dangerous down the left wing for the U.S.
63' Sporting KC's Matt Besler comes on for John Brooks and will pair up with Alvarado in central defense for the U.S.
64' Peru making a couple substitutions of their own as they bring on Paolo Hurtado and Renato Tapia. Tapia, at age 20, is the youngest player on the Peru roster.
67' Wow, Brad Guzan! Guzan twice denies Peru from in close as the U.S. dodges a huge bullet. That should have been 2-1 Peru.
68' And just like that the U.S. comes back the other way and the trio of Yedlin, Zardes and Altidore produce a go-ahead goal for the U.S. In the end, it's Altidore jumping on a loose ball inside the box and hammering it home for his second of the game and 29th of his USMNT career. Is this a breakout game for Jozy? I know I was hard on him about the penalty, but two goals are two goals.
71' Bobby Wood coming off now for Aron Jóhannsson and Danny Williams entering for Jermaine Jones. So Williams and Diskerud now running the U.S. midfield.
73' Jóhannsson gets through but opts to shoot/pass (?) and sends one harmlessly across the mouth of the goal to nobody. Not a great effort there. Put that on frame, man! Altidore with a nifty flick on to set the play up.
75' And now Jóhannsson gets dropped just outside the 18 and a dangerous free kick coming up for the U.S. Who's going to take it? Altidore and Diskerud standing over it. And it's Jozy... and it's not close. Are set pieces really a big part of Jozy's game? I just don't think of him as that type of goal scorer. I dunno, maybe I'm just being picky.
77' Peru wins a corner, their first of the second half after a sliding deflection by Alvarado. The threat ends with a Guzan save.
79' The U.S. with another dangerous free kick and this time it's Diskerud chipping one in for Jóhannsson but AJo can't get on the end of it. Jóhannsson looking a little rusty on the ball tonight, but he's making some good runs getting himself into dangerous spots on the field.
82' Zardes wins the U.S. another corner, but Peru's going to make some more subs before Diskerud can send it in. Peru clears, but Danny Williams wins it back for the U.S.
83' You know, now that the U.S. is up a goal it would be nice to see them actually possess the ball for a bit. Instead we keep forcing the action and turning the ball over to Peru. Up a goal at home, why aren't we just playing keep away? Kind of goes along with the whole, what is our style of play question.
85' Altidore gets a dumb yellow for tugging on the shirt of a Peruvian player right in front of the ref. Tactical foul, maybe, but come on, be discrete!
86' Now Diskerud turns it over trying to take on a Peru defender and Peru counters the other way. Just seems like poor decision making across the board.
88' Besler with a nice block after Peru catches the U.S. defense with their pants down on a quick restart. More mental errors for the U.S., and they've been lucky that Peru hasn't capitalized.
90' Besler wins another cross heading it out for a corner. Besler's looked solid in his limited shift, but enough to earn his spot back? Hard to say. Three minutes of stoppage time.
91' Peru narrowly misses as a shot from distance curls up over Guzan and lands on top of the goal, just over the bar.
93' Ream gets beaten on the left side, but Danny Williams recovers and draws a foul.
And that's all she wrote. The U.S. defeats Peru 2-1. Next up Brazil. You probably know how that went by now, but we'll watch it anyways. My player of the game for the U.S. is Gyasi Zardes who all night was dangerous down the left wing and whose cross set up Altidore's game winner and my play of the game was Guzan's double save when the match was still tied at 1. Overall a decent showing from the U.S. I'll say C+/B- overall with certainly room for improvement.