It would be charitable to call the team Jurgen Klinsmann called in for the the United States' friendly against the Czech Republic "experimental." It includes six players without caps and more than half of the team was under the age of 24. Alejandro Bedoya was the second-most capped player on the team, with 34. It was a total adventure. And it proved to be a successful one.
The U.S. beat the Czech Republic, 1-0, in Prague thanks to a first half goal by Alejandro Bedoya and some wonderful goalkeeping by Nick Rimando. But more than anything, some of the team's lesser used players looked promising.
Bedoya's 39th minute goal came courtesy of a Czech Republic error and an opportunistic play by Mix Diskerud. Petr Cech made an unwise pass to a defender, whose first touch doomed him with Mix on top of him. The American was able to take the ball then run at goal, where Cech made a save, but the rebound fell to Bedoya, who easily knocked the ball into the open net.
That goal only held up because of Rimando's brilliant play in the second half. Brad Guzan was between the sticks in the first half and wasn't tested much, but as soon as Rimando came in for the second 45 minutes, he was under fire. He made one good kick save to start things, then spent the rest of the half punching balls away and scrambling around the front of goal while the U.S. tried desperately to clear. No player was asked to make as many key plays as Rimando, and he made every single one.
The U.S. were easily the better side in the first half, keeping the ball and dictating tempo. That was key for them because they were playing with an unnatural team -- no defensive midfielders and inverted fullbacks with inexperienced centerbacks. But Mix dictating things in the midfield, Bedoya supported him and Joe Gyau in particular was allowed to put the Czechs under pressure with his long runs. Fabian Johnson made his impact felt, pushing forward and helping trouble the home side. Even the centerback pairing of John Brooks and Michael Orozco were tidy with the ball.
Things changed in the second half when the Czechs turned up the pressure. No longer were the Americans passing the ball with ease and instead of the U.S. dictating tempo with their defensive pressure and cool passing, the Czechs were doing that, but Rimando made sure it wouldn't matter. He delivered the win.
In the end, this was an experiment. Joe Gyau got the start in his first cap and Greg Garza and Emerson Hyndman also played with the senior team for the first time. Jozy Altidore was a first-time captain and youngsters like Julian Green and John Brooks got more action. Add in the impressive performances by Mix, Bedoya and Rimando, and Klinsmann will come away from this having a better idea of his player pool than he did before. That's a job well done.