Behind Altidore's two goals, U.S. men dispatch solid Peru side.
By Robert Wagman
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Friday, September 4, 2015) -- After falling behind on a fluky, deflected goal, striker Jozy Altidore strike twice, nine minutes apart, to lead the United States to a 2-1 victory over a talented Peru squad in front of 28,896 who witnessed a friendly tonight at RFK Stadium.
Peru controlled much of the play over the first half but, while keeping the U.S. back on its heels, it did not really do much with its edge in possession. Peru was only able to grab the halftime lead on a bit when forward Daniel Chavez gave his team the lead in the 20th minute when his shot from the top of the penalty area deflected off U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez and looped over the head and outstretched arm of goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann made three substitutes to start the second half and the Americans seemed to regain their footing and began to enjoy more possession than in the first 45 minutes. Altidore was especially dangerous and earned a penalty kick with one run into the Peru box in the 58th minute.
Altidore’s PK was stopped by keeper Pedro Gallese, but the rebound came directly back to Altidore, who side-footed it in for a 1-1 tie.
Nine minutes, Altidore tapped in midfielder Gyasi Zardes’ cross for a 2-1 advantage.
That seemed to wake up Peru, which stepped up its attack. but a pair of good saves by Guzan, and some strong play in the defensive midfield allowed the U.S. to come away with a hard-earned triumph.
The Americans were missing three key players -- midfielder Michael Bradley and midfielder-striker Clint Dempsey, who were allowed to stay with their Major League Soccer teams for weekend matches, and injured defender Fabian Johnson. Also missing was another injured defender, DaMarcus Beasley.
Peru manager Ricardo Gareca meanwhile brought 19 members of the Copa America side that finished a surprising third, missing only forward Claudio Pizarro while keeping his best offensive player, Flamengo’s Paolo Guerrero, on the bench.
Next up for the U.S. is a meeting with a full-strength Brazil Tuesday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
U.S. Player Ratings
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan - 6.5: Slow to react, but still unlucky on the Peru goal, he more than made up for it with a amazing reaction save and then snagging the rebound in the 65th minute.
Defender Michael Orozco - 5.5: The central defender started at right back and had a strong night defensively playing the first half. He did not contribute much to the attack, but that is not his strength.
Defender Omar Gonzalez – 4.5: He did not have a strong appearance. He was unlucky to have the Peru goal deflect off him, but should have shut down the play in advance of the shot. On a night he needed to be very good, he was not.
Defender John Brooks - 5.5: He had one of his better outings, good in the air and able to handle Peru’s speed.
Defender Tim Ream - 5.5: He was another central defender forced to play wide. At times, he seemed unsure of himself and tended to get caught upfield, but after settling in, he actually had a strong match.
Midfielder DeAndre Yedlin - 6: His job was to use his speed to run the wing and to stretch the Peru defense. He fit into that role well and was also able to get back and help defensively.
Midfielder Gyasi Zardes - 7: He essentially had the same role on the left side. He had a very sharp game, coming close to scoring twice in the first half and then delivering the cross that set up Altidore’s winning goal after intermission He looked strong for the full 90 minutes.
Midfielder Jermaine Jones - 7: He still is not completely recovered from hernia surgery, he had a strong match, both defensively and offensively. He made key stops in the first half, while managing a steal and wicked shot that Peru keeper Pedro Gallese had to lay out fully to deflect .
Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya - 4.5: For some reason, he did not seem to fit in well either with Jones in the middle or with either outside wings. At times, he seemed almost lost and was replaced at the break.
Forward Jozy Altidore - 7: He was not strong in the first half, but more than made up for several errors with his pair of second-half goals. He needed to play well after a generally errant Gold Cup.
Forward Bobby Wood - 5: He worked hard, but had little to show for it. He made several dangerous runs in the first half, but received little service.
Midfielder Mix Diskerud (46th minute for Bedoya) - 6.5: He strengthened the midfield and paired well with Jones. He played well both offensively and defensively. .
Defender Geoff Cameron (46th minute for Orozco) - 5.5: He looked more natural at the outside defender position. He was solid defensively, while adding somewhat to the U.S. attack.
Defender Ventura Alvarado (46th minute for Gonzalez) - 5: He was certainly better than the player he replaced. He paired well, first with Brooks and then Matt Besler.
Defender Matt Besler (63rd minute for Brooks) - 6: After being absent for the Gold Cup, he needed a strong performance to show he belongs on the team.. Basically, that is what he did, making at least three key stops in the final minutes.
Forward Aron Johannsson (71st minute for Wood) - 5.5: He made a few good runs, but basically had to help out defensively as Peru pushed for a late equalizer.
Midfielder Danny Williams (71st minute for Jones) - 5.5: He is not the player Jones is, but provided a pair of fresh legs to help hold off a pressing Peru in the final minutes.
SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Jozy Altidore.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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