2-0 is a familiar, happy scoreline for the U.S. Men's National Team, and they achieved their trademark Dos A Cero result against the visiting Korea Republic (South Korea) before a sell-out crowd of 27,000 in the StubHub Center. And yet, while the Americans started emphatically and rarely looked in danger of conceding a goal, there were moments where they might have been exploited by a better side -- say, for instance, the teams they'll face in World Cup Group G in a little more than four months.
The match couldn't have started better for the U.S. The first half's lone goal came four minutes in, with Chris Wondolowski finishing, on a particularly exquisite break in the fourth minute, starting when Landon Donovan sent an outlet pass wide right for a streaking Graham Zusi, who sent the ball into Brad Davis. Davis's ensuing shot on goal -- the highlight of an energetic first half for him -- resulted in Wondo finding the back of the net, heading in the rebound with poacher's flair.
To the chagrin of TV-watching soccer fans, the goal wasn't shown live, due to the grindingly-slow ending of an ACC basketball matchup that USMNT fans weren't quite as invested in. Once the TV audience joined the live one, they were "treated" to a number of sequences that looked like sure USMNT goals that missed the final, crucial, goal-making step.
These included a deep Landon Donovan run with the ball in the 10th minute, a beautiful Brad Evans to Mix Diskerud pass in the 12th minute (which ended in an unfortunate fit of foot fumbling in front of goal), an ambitious Besler long-ball that Graham Zusi got to but couldn't quite tame in the 23rd minute, and a Wondo cross that just evaded a sliding Donovan near the end of the half.
The Koreans didn't look particularly threatening in the first half -- one dangerous-looking run by Lee Keun-Ho in the 18th minute was hampered when teammate Min-Woo Kim blundered into his pathway -- though they did test goalie Nick Rimando on an 8th-minute corner kick that nearly leveled the match, and winger Yohan Go nearly engineered a goal on his own when he torched left-back Michael Parkhurst on a 22nd minute run. To Parkhurst's credit, though, he had some good runs out of the backfield, and recovered for a Matt Besler miscue in the 35th minute on a particularly dangerous sequence in the American box.
In the second half, Graham Zusi had a particularly strong start to the second half, culminating with a deft assist to Wondolowski in the 60th minute. Wondo didn't have the opportunity to turn the brace into a hat trick, however, as he was subbed off for Eddie Johnson -- part of a triple substitution that included Clarence Goodson for Besler and Benny Feilhaber for Diskerud.
Three additional subs came on later in the second half -- Luis Gil and DeAndre Yedlin, both receiving their first-ever international caps, and Eric Alexander, making only his second-ever USMNT appearance.
Yedlin was whistled for a questionable foul just outside the box in the 88th minute that Kyle Beckerman had to head out of danger -- Yedlin cleared the subsequent header out of danger.
Korea has one last chance to erase Nick Rimando's clean sheet in the match's final seconds, but the goalie smothered a dangerous leading pass in front of his goal to finish the match.
While the performance might have not been as dominant as it could have been -- Mexico beat this same Korea team three days ago in San Antonio 4-0, after all -- the Americans did played a generally good game, dominating possession 58-42, defending well against South Korea's six corners, and moving the ball well through the midfield. Against its World Cup group opponents, however, the team will need to be more opportunistic -- assuming they can get the same kind of movement against the better class of defenders they'll face in June.