The U.S.'s win against El Salvador relied on the young strike force of Jozy Altidore and Charlie Davies as much as the veterans in the midfield.
Jozy Altidore, 19, and Charlie Davies, 23, caused the Salvadorian backline fits with their combination of pace and power.
Especially in the second half, as the game opened up with El Salvador chasing, the sprightly duo found space to run at markers and had their fair share of chances in the box.
“We think that when Jozy and Charlie play up there they give us a physical dimension -- the speed, the strength -- that keeps defenses on their heels,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said in the post-game press conference. “Both are improving in terms of the understanding between them and also their overall sense of how to play within the team. It's progress for sure, we've seen some good things as we were moving through the Confederations Cup, and we're hopeful that this can continue to be something to build upon.”
The striking pair first joined as a unit in the Confederations Cup. With the U.S. in need of an unlikely 3-0 win over Egypt, Bradley threw Davies into his starting lineup. The former Boston College man essentially willed the first goal over the line, sparking the USA to the needed victory. The two continued their partnership in the shock 2-0 win over Spain, this time with Altidore scoring the winner off a quick spin to turn his marker.
In the summer, both young forwards made big moves. Davies joined Sochaux in the French Ligue 1 after spending three years in Sweden with Hammarby. He scored two goals on his debut in France, from the bench.
Altidore joined Hull City on loan from Villarreal. In his first sub appearance, he notched the game-winning assist with essentially his first touch of the ball. In his first start, he scored a wicked 30-yard drive.
The two continue to settle in for the U.S., and are able to beat defenses on the counter and are big enough to push their way onto the ball even under tight marking. What is evident in both their play, that is perhaps missing with other strikers the U.S. can use, is an enormous amount of energy.
“Me and Jozy - we're very good friends. We talk about how we want to go at the defenders all the time,” said Davies. “We knew we had a gameplan of just going in there and playing how we always do. We knew everything would take care of itself. We have a lot of pace and we're young guys with a lot of energy. It's definitely brings a lot to the team.”
It's a young partnership, both in the players' ages and the time they have spent together, but it's proving an effective one.
Zac Lee Rigg, Goal.com
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