Playing with a young side, the U.S. coach saw his team hold off a late attack to earn a win in its first match since the 2014 World Cup.PRAGUE -- Alejandro Bedoya provided the United States men's national team with the perfect start on its road to Russia, scoring to lead the Yanks to a 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic on Wednesday night.
Bedoya swept home from a rebound six minutes before the interval to give the Americans all the cushion they would need on the evening. Nick Rimando produced several fine saves to protect the advantage under Czech pressure after the interval and seal an encouraging victory for this youthful side.
United States manager Jürgen Klinsmann rang the changes in a bid to introduce fresh faces at the start of this new World Cup cycle. His players rewarded him with an energetic performance with all of the bright spots and warts expected from a developing group stripped of many of its key figures.
This display will provide Klinsmann and his players with a platform to build upon in the three remaining friendlies this year. The home side will wonder how it failed to score given the chances it procured in the second half, but the result and the application throughout will bolster the Americans as they move forward with their preparations for next summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup and the next four years.
Klinsmann handed Joe Gyau his first cap as part of a 4-3-3 setup designed to commit numbers forward and press the initiative. The display led to plenty of exchanges in a largely open game, but both teams struggled to take advantages of the openings created with an accurate final ball.
Gyau mustered the first USA attempt on goal after 20 minutes, but the Czechs started to profit shortly thereafter as the Americans left themselves exposed with their inability to produce the killer pass in the final third. The balance in central midfield -- manned by three attacking players in Bedoya, Diskerud and Joe Corona -- and the enterprising fullbacks invited the Czechs to counter.
Vaclav Pilar looked the brightest operator for the home side and sparked the best move of the opening stanza. The four-versus-two break from a corner ended with Tomas Rosicky squaring toward the far post and Vladimir Darida turning into the side netting with the goal gaping in front of him.
Darida compounded his miss with a loose touch from an ill-advised pass from Petr Cech out of the back. Diskerud anticipated the error and stormed forward to punish the Czechs for their shoddy work on the ball. Cech saved Diskerud’s initial low attempt, but Bedoya finished off his run and slotted home his second career international goal to give the Americans the lead.
The goal shortly before halftime buoyed the Americans’ confidence and sparked a bright start to the second half, with several extended spells in possession. Bedoya prompted another stop from Cech to punctuate the encouraging opening period, but the Czechs eventually found their footing and pulled Nick Rimando into action.
Rimando produced a fine kick save on the hour after Ladislav Krejci slipped behind the line. He then summoned an even better stop five minutes to deny Darida’s angled drive as the Czechs attempted to restore parity.
The inevitable raft of substitutions -- including USA debuts for Greg Garza and Emerson Hyndman -- reduced the Czech cohesiveness and stretched the game even further. Garza recovered well to poke away at the far post to cut out another threat, while Tim Ream interjected at the right moment to head away a threatening cross.
The home side huffed and puffed against the bending American defense, but it could not find a way to break the resistance with its woeful final touch. Daniel Pudil skied his first-time attempt in the final 10 minutes before Radim Reznik forced Rimando to parry and then squandered the rebound by thrashing it over the bar.
Rimando summoned one last block two minutes from time to protect the result one last time and ensure the Americans mustered the desired start on their road to Russia.
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