The USMNT are heading into the World Cup after winning all three friendly matches for the first time ever. They defeated Azerbaijan 2-0, Turkey 2-1 and Nigeria 2-1 to complete the sweep.
The USMNT beat Nigeria in Jacksonville, Florida at EverBack Field. They spent some time training in Florida leading up to the match to get used to playing in a humid atmosphere, similar to Brazil.
They completed the sweep, using the final friendly game to make any final touches and preparations before heading to Brazil. The Nigerian side also used this friendly game for the same exact reasons. They have a chance to advance out of a weaker Group F in the World Cup. Argentina should dominate the group, but all Nigeria has to do is beat both Bosnia- Herzegovina and Iran to advance to the next round.
The Americans are facing an uphill battle in their group play, but they used the game against Nigeria to prepare for a dominant Ghana squad. Nigeria has one of the best defenses in Africa and was able to give the American forwards more difficulty like they will see in Brazil. Both African nations have similar styles of play, which allowed the USMNT to play a close matchup to what they will get in the World Cup against Ghana.
The USMNT play Ghana in the first of three group stage games and it is a match that is “pretty much like a knockout game,” said Jürgen Klinsmann, the USMNT head coach.
The USMNT threw out a different lineup against Nigeria than the previous two friendlies. The question comes to mind, is this the same lineup the Americans will play against Ghana?
It should be. Jürgen Klinsmann put the Americans in a 4-2-3-1 formation, and it worked. The defense received some much needed help with Kyle Beckerman sitting in front of the back four, which allowed both Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley to get forward and create chances in the final third. It is more of a defensive minded formation, but Clint Dempsey played more like a forward up top with Jozy Altidore. The formation also allowed Alejandro Bedoya to stay wide and play balls into the box for the Americans to finish. He has played well enough to earn a starting position in the first game against Ghana.
This formation and the play of Altidore were positive notes for the Americans heading into Brazil. Altidore finally broke his scoring drought. He had not scored for his club or country since December 2013, but scored both goals in this game against Nigeria. He is heading into Brazil on a high note, playing his best soccer.
“It just feels good that we’re playing good, that our hard work is paying off. It’s good in the send-off series to go into the World Cup with that sharpness and feeling good and having that confidence from those three wins,” captain Clint Dempsey told Fox Sports.
One of the biggest pieces for the USMNT heading into the World Cup is the play of Michael Bradley and Fabian Johnson. Both are playing outstanding soccer with quality movement on and off the ball. The space and runs these two players create are the reason the Americans are scoring goals and creating opportunities.
The USMNT is heading to Brazil on a winning streak and are playing some of their best soccer. Their defense is still the weak point, but it has gotten better as the games went on. They only gave up two goals in their three friendlies, and both were penalties late in the games. The Americans cannot give up these silly fouls in the World Cup because they will come back to haunt the USMNT.
The Americans are on their way to Brazil and play their first match against the Ghana Black Stars on June 16.