After a dismal first half that saw the United States get dominated by an opponent once again, they rebounded very nicely in the last 45 minutes to beat Peru, 2-1. The U.S. fell behind 20 minutes into the game off of a fluke of a goal. The Peruvians took over the game for the rest of the half, piling on attack after attack.
After the halftime break, the USMNT started to find their confidence and it showed with their collective touches. More precise passing and better attacking flow saw the U.S. grab momentum and never look back. Two Jozy Altidore goals later and the American come away with a much-needed win. It was a game in which we saw several statement performances from players who desperately needed them. Here is what we learned:
Jozy Altidore is still the best USMNT striker
After his embarrassment at the Gold Cup and rocky club form, Altidore needed positive performance in the worst way. Yes he scored two goals on the night, but that isn't the full story. Jozy worked hard for a full 90 minutes and wanted to fight for his team. When you have a confident and driven Jozy Altidore, you have a truly dangerous striker.
Unfortunately, the polar opposite is also true. When he's unmotivated and unwilling to work for the cause, he's pretty useless for the USMNT. His performance against Peru once again proves that when he's in the mood he can put a team on his back and carry them. Hopefully this is the start of a great run of form for Jozy and he can sustain this through the next month.
The U.S. can't string together 90 good minutes
After the World Cup the USMNT had a spell of matches where they played great first halves but conceded late to either lose of draw. Lately it's been the opposite, struggle early and turn it around at halftime. Aside from dominating an awful Cuba team, there hasn't been one complete performance by the team since the World Cup.
As we approach the Mexico match in October, Klinsmann has to find a starting lineup that will give his team the best chance of playing a complete 90 minutes.
The 4-4-2 is still really effective
It's 2015. We're the new generation of soccer supporters. We want to see the diamond, the 4-3-3, the 3-5-2. Who's the #6? Who's the #8? The #10? TREQUARISTAS!!!!!
Klinsmann decided to go with the boring old flat midfield 4-4-2 and it worked like a charm. Two dynamic wingers in Yedlin and Zardes both enjoyed success when the midfielders and fullbacks found them in space. It's a formation that was popular under Bob Bradley, but one that has seen little play under Jurgen. Jermaine Jones looked comfortable in a natural role and when Mix Diskerud entered at halftime they formed a very successful partnership to control the midfield.
Tim Ream is a more-than-capable left back
One player that has been left out in the wilderness for the most part of the Klinsmann era is Tim Ream. Despite being a consistent performer in the English Championship, he's seen very few call ups the last three years and even less playing time. He got the start at left back against Peru with Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley both out with injury.
Ream was one of the best players on the field. His calm and composed demeanor helps everyone around him to play out of the back. Defending-wise he was everywhere disrupting the Peru attacks and being a steady influence on the back line. While he may not have won a starting job, he surely helped his cause to get more meaningful minutes.
Center back is still a huge question mark
Omar Gonzalez and John Brooks got the start against Peru. It would be harsh to say that the partnership failed. Gonzalez backpedaling instead of holding his ground on the first half goal was not a great moment for the LA Galaxy man. However, it would've been a very minor mistake if not for an incredibly unlucky deflection. Brooks did well in his 63 minutes. His second half was particularly good with one brilliant piece of defending in his own box against Jefferson Farfan.
Matt Besler's return to the USMNT setup proved to be a very successful one. The Sporting KC center back only played 27 minutes, but he was everywhere breaking up plays and being in the right place at the right time. So many different options available, with no one really staking a claim to the positions. It will be very interesting to see who Klinsmann decides to start in the last friendly before the all-important playoff match in October.