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FIVE things we learned from the U.S. win over Nigeria

Jun 7, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; United States midfielder Kyle Beckerman (15), talks with defender Matt Besler (5) and defender Geoff Cameron (20) during the first half against the Nigeria at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jun 7, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; United States midfielder Kyle Beckerman (15), talks with defender Matt Besler (5) and defender Geoff Cameron (20) during the first half against the Nigeria at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. is done with its domestic World Cup preparation after a convincing 2-1 win over to Nigeria.

Now, the U.S. heads to Brazil Sunday and will play a final tuneup match against Belgium before the team faces Ghana on June 16.

There were many questions surrounding the U.S. prior to playing Nigeria, and for the time being, most of those queries were answered.

Who is going to play in the back? When will Jozy Altidore score? Is coach Jurgen Klinsmann sticking with the 4-4-2 Diamond? Have you ever seen EverBank Field so full?

Was it a 4-4-2 Diamond? Was it a 4-2-3-1? Does it matter?

Regardless of what it looked like on paper (the U.S. players claimed it was a 4-2-3-1), it appeared to be a much closer representation of how the U.S. will play against Ghana. The addition of Kyle Beckerman provided a clearer definition of the holding central midfielder and allowed both Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones to wander a bit more freely.

“We know Kyle, this is his specialty to protect his teammates and to run endlessly,” Klinsmann said. “Jermaine then has more freedom to go forward and he knows that if he loses the ball there’s someone behind him who is going to clean up for him”

If you ask Klinsmann, the formation is meaningless. That’s not quite true. When players understand their roles in the formation, it can actually be very powerful.

“We’re going to play against these good teams, and they are going to have possession at times and it was about not letting them be dangerous,” Beckerman said.

Fabian Johnson remains the best attacking threat on the U.S. not named Dempsey.

Speaking of players understanding their roles, Johnson was excellent once more at right back. The midfield’s current structure, allowed both Johnson and Beasley to attack the space on the outsides. Two goals in as many matches have come from Johnson bombing forward, hopefully the trend continues in Brazil.

Jozy Altidore finally got one (and then got two).

It took 238 days, but Jozy Altidore finally scored (twice!) so we can all calm down now. Both goals were well taken, especially the second, but it’s his hold up play and work rate on defense that the U.S. will need to count on in Brazil. But Brazil is nine days away; enjoy your brace, Jozy … or don’t.

“To be honest, it makes no difference [to score].” Altidore said.

Bradley was a little bit more animated about Altidore’s performance.

“Jozy is such a good player, he means so much to our team,” Bradley said. “The reality is, anybody whoever questions Jozy, or anybody who doesn’t understand what he brings to our team, doesn’t understand soccer.”

Michael Bradley’s motor doesn’t stop.

Ogenyi Onazi is going to need therapy after spending 90 minutes trying to keep up with Bradley. The U.S. central midfielder pressed the Nigerian backline incessantly, which is exactly what he’ll need to do against Ghana.

Beckerman and Jones also deserve credit for Bradley’s performance. With both players holding, Bradley’s defensive responsibilities were almost completely removed in the U.S. half of the field, allowing him to launch the counterattack and press higher than he did against Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Speaking of players understanding their roles, Johnson was excellent once more at right back. The midfield’s current structure, allowed both Johnson and Beasley to attack the space on the outsides. Two goals in as many matches have come from Johnson bombing forward, hopefully the trend continues in Brazil.

The back four finally looked settled.

For all the gaps and disjointedness in the back during first two matches of this sendoff series, Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler looked downright composed against Nigeria, even if Besler conceded the late penalty, which resulted in Ghana’s lone goal.

Tim Howard didn’t have too much to do for 90 minutes, which was a nice present for his 100th cap. DaMarcus Beasley received a standing ovation as he left the field, surely securing his spot at left back over Timmy Chandler, and Johnson looked as good as ever with Beckerman and Jones covering for him when he went forward.

READERS COMMENTS

  1. samva says:

    The USMNT looked well conditioned physically as compared to the nigerians and the black stars have to be very careful because they are coming full force.

  2. Ali says:

    Great performance USA. But try and loose to Ghana

  3. Benito says:

    Intact this USA team really played well last night and I was terrified,they understand their roles and played each,they all attacked and all depend as well,it’s gonna be difficult for Ghana,very difficult unless our players play as a team,and we must tactically disciplined.

    • Viper says:

      Lol massa,calm down,as good as their performance was against Nigeria,you have to realise,Nigeria isn’t Ghana.There is a clear daylight between Ghana and Nigeria.Different set of players(quality wise) Different style of play and all.I watch USA against Turkey and were very ordinary in that game,overrunning Nigeria’s midfield,isn’t the same as overrunning Ghana’s midfield.Calm down but do understand your concern.

      I must say,I was really impressed with the USA but Nigeria isn’t Ghana.

      • Eddie says:

        Absolutely, Nigeria isn’t Ghana, but Nigeria is the closest thing to Ghana, especially when it comes to speed and physical play. US went 5 notches up from Azerbaijan to Turkey, 10 steps more from Turkey to Nigeria, now they will go 20 steps up against Belgium, and by the time they face Ghana, it will be a side many times better than the one they faced Nigeria. This is EXACTLY how Klinsmann build the Germany side when he was their coach.

      • T-Mighty says:

        What are you insinuating? Ghana is better than Nigeria? Do you mean on paper or what? You mist be joking. Don’t be disappointed when the world cup start proper.

  4. Viper says:

    Am not sure if Nigeria is really that poor AND simply made USA that good or USA are that good.Whatever the case,it was a really good performance from USA.I watched their match against Turkey and wasn’t really that impressed but against Nigeria,they looked more like Germany.Very dangerous on the counter attack,Michael Bradley is developing into a top level player maker.

    Can Ghana beat USA? Definitely,we just have to watch the pace of Altidore and Dempsey’s movement.Keep Bradley under wraps with his passing.If we play a high line,they catch us napping and with the pace of Altidore,you wouldn’t want.

    One thing is for certain,Nigerian style of play is way different to ours,so the American shouldn’t be gloating over this result,certainly is no pointer to what faces them come June 16.

  5. Anokwale says:

    Keep Fabian Johnson busy. A few long passes in his direction should freeze him a bit.

  6. Pasi says:

    US 3tis3 3maa kube. Y3 b3hwe womu bokoboko..

  7. Africanus says:

    The US strategy was to sit back in large numbers and defend, then hit on the counter with the speed of light, not with one person but 3 or 4 players in the opponent’s final third. The solution to Ghana will be
    1. Ensure that the midfield is always position to stop the counter attack before it gets to the final third.
    2. Because they are defending in numbers we must also employ speedy counter attack to take advantage of their reduced numbers at the back.
    3. Our attackers must be clinical and take their chances.

    Above all the key is to neutralize their speedy counter attack, if we do that we will dominate the game and score goals.

    From what I saw Ghana will beat them. For the Nigerians the game was only a friendly, they didn’t need to go all out. But the US took it serious, what we saw is all they have got. They needed to impress their home fans, get the country behind the team and shore up the confidence of the team. They got it.

    • Eddie says:

      You are more hoping and wishing than saying it the way is. USA is not guaranteed to put the same lineup. The strategy, the game plan, the players will be different with Ghana. The whole idea was to “get a feel” for Ghana with Nigeria. There is still work that US has to do, such as be more clinical with the finishing, not to give the ball away in midfield or on counters. Little things to fix, but after the Belgium game, when US plays Ghana, only god knows the final result, but 1 thing you can be sure of- Ghana will be under enormous 90 minute pressure. This is the USA’s world cup final.

  8. Mannie says:

    I dont agree, i thought nigeria had the game to win and just threw it away for whatever reason.. Jose Altidore is actually not fast, and very poor ball handler.. USA will have to park rhe bus when they play ghana.. They seemed well conditioned because the played a defensive game and only ran when they had an opportunity for a counter..

    They were too defensive and that in my opinion makes them very beatable

    • Eddie says:

      And this was the exact same strategy that US used when they beat Spain 2-0 at the 2009 Confederations cup semi-final and knocked them out. Inexperience was the reason they lost to Ghana, but people forget, this is a side that has over and over again, beaten the best in the world. If Ghana is not prepared to handle that counter, (and I means quick 2-3 second end to end counter) they are in trouble.

  9. texas says:

    All of a sudden people are scared? and are talking as if we do not have man to do the job. If you want to win the win cup you must beat and over power each and every team you meet. USA will not come easy and our players know this right from the start. Black stars always shin when lest is expected. Nigeria got work to do. We played bradley. Dempsey, altidore and co in 2010 and what did they offer? For Nigeria to let one of the worst strikers in EPL last season score two pass them raises lots of question about the super chickens. US team is better than it was in 2010, the black stars is a fortified and a more matured team than we had in 2010 so what is all these noise about?

  10. KOFIK says:

    What is to come .Ghana will pressurize USA to the extent that USA will result to
    very long passes per the left flanges to redeem their defeat, a desperately
    attempt to no avail .just watch it

  11. luca says:

    There isn’t much to say abt this game..
    The difference btwn usa vs turkey and usa vs Nigeria is in the strategy usa used in both games…4-4-2 diamond…and 4-2-3-1
    The second strategy maximises every players effort..cos its compact.so its like a swarm of bees playing soccer..defend gud..and ther are ppl always ready for a counter..
    Nigeria did themselves in…keshi on the touch line shd ve noticed his team wasnt set up to win the match…he cud ve made tactical changes..he didn’t
    Leaves me with one qstn…are our african coaches able to read the game well????
    If not..we might as well just stay home…
    World cup started in 1930s..no african team has made it to semis or final.o r even won. yet we ve grt players all over europe..wat is africa’s problem

  12. Nana Okofrobuor IV says:

    US is so obsessed with Ghana to the extend that at the latter part of this article,The author wrote Besler conceded the late penalty which resulted in”Ghana lone goal” instead of Nigeria.Mr author not this fast.Less than a day you cannot tell the country you played with?You are dreamer thinking you have beaten Ghana at the World Cup.We shall see.

  13. CEREBRAL says:

    There was something very glaring about the USA as they played Nigeria. The USA team looked sharp and fit. I think they have spent a lot of time building on their stamina, speed and endurance. When the players are fit and can run all day with an efficient tempo, as long as they can pass the ball well, they will look good and make less mistakes. The USA looks ready for the WC. Michael Bradley is the playmaker stringing Dempsey and Altidore with dangerous passes. The countless unforced errors Nigeria made are an indication of more work to be done at camp. Victor Moses, and Emenike were brilliant, and yet received little support from the others. Even though Nigeria is not Ghana, the fitness, the smoothness, the endurance and team-play of the US team was evident and should be a caution to the Black Stars to raise their game.

  14. Eddie says:

    Many Ghana fans have seen the last 2 US friendlies and think the defence is weak. It is nothing like that. Klinsmann is trying out different players and formations. US defence was 100 times better with tough Nigeria than soft Azerbeijan, but still there are a few things more to adjust. The whole idea is to have the side PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME. They totally dominated Nigeria, and then went to sleep in the last 15 minutes just because it was a friendly. Physically, fitness wise this will be Ghana’s toughest group opponent. I will bet that stamina and fitness wise, US is the best among all 32. Those last 2 world cup wins don’t mean much. US has already beaten Portugal 3-2 in the past and shocked the world, so anything can happen.
    Nigeria game gave Ghana fans a glimpse, but US will be coming at Ghana at a pace 3-4 times more than with Nigeria. Ghana can physically outmuscle Portugal and Germany, not USA. Americans are athletes first before footballers.
    Also, we can’t make excuses about which Nigerian player played or was on the bench. US approach would have been the same. One other mistake Ghana fans make about US players- when they play for country, they are at 100% much more determined than for club.. Altidore scored maybe 1 or 2 at Sunderland whole year, but scored 3 against Bosnia Hertzgovina and 2 against Nigeria. His goal scoring is less important. His ability to use his physical strength and athleticism to create opportunities for his team mates is more important. But beware, the sleeping giant just woke up, and it’s at the wrong time for Ghana.
    One more thing- US plays Belgium in a closed door match 4 days before the Ghana match. I predict they will beat them, even if it’s a meaningful game. Remember what I said about peaking at the right time. And when kickoff happens, Ghana will have to be at their best. My pick USA 3 Ghana 1

  15. Frank says:

    @ texas mind ur use of words ok, what nigeria have won in world football usa can’t win in 40years and beyound so the next time i hear you say that again i will make sure i ……. You fool do you think this is basket ball or ur grammy awards? This is football! Imagine you learners have to bring in a german for tactics why not bruse arena? That dick head that has nothing to offer u learners! Before u step up to our level win the olympics, the world youth championship, then we can start talking ok you learners are not even champions in ur continent! Don’t forget to hala back am waiting…

  16. phlin says:

    Nigerians were playing like chikens but I see them as vultures, who are lazy in nature. The vultures made usa look like Brazil, they don’t have business going to Brazil a chiken is a chiken

  17. tones says:

    Lol super chikens always been disgraced, super chikens. Nigerians are good for fraud and match fixing

    • Africanus says:

      Guys Nigeria is one of the teams representing Africa, we should wish them well in the very least. Their performance will reflect positively or negatively on Africa as a whole. The name calling is rude.

  18. cali boy says:

    I agreed with you Africanus, there is no need for name calling, if this guys watch the game, they would see that Nigerians out play u.s.a , the only problem with the Nigerian team is the defense and this is the same problem Ghana has too, the only thing that is working for American team is the team work…. they lack skill on the ball…their abilities on the ball is weak all part of the team.. sometime wonder if they pay other teams to lost.. cause they always find a way to win a games and they are not even that good….

  19. Naija boy says:

    It’s funny to see my Ghanaian brothers scared just because Keshi gambled & lost. Don’t worry black stars, if your team has any bit of discipline, you’ll beat USA & scale through the group. Nigeria on the other hand will most likely shock all you doubters & haters, qualifying from the group, beating France & trashing England to book a semi final berth for Africa. You best believe it.

  20. royce says:

    Keshi may gambled d game against US, but super chicken or whatever name u may give Super Eagle will surprise not only Africa but the world this time, so don’t get carried away by friendly match…

  21. Abisogun says:

    Nigerians are reserving their strengths for the WC. Everybody, particularly the critics would all be surprised when they shock the world

  22. SHAOLIN says:

    Ghana’s individual quality is superior to the US,however ,tactically the US is better because they have a far superior coach. Sometimes I don’t even know if AA knows what’s going on as far as reading what our opponents are doing. All the top teams are playing numerous friendlies to tune up ahead of the world cup but the Ghanaian team only has 2 after tommorrow. We didn’t even field our 1st team in the 1st friendly. Are our clueless coaches smarter than their counterparts on the top teams? Are they suffering from delusions of grandeur? The US is not a very good team,but I think with the kinda preparation that they’ve had, coupled with the tactical superiority they will have because of their coach and also the tactical indiscipline of our team this game could really turn out to be our worst nightmare if the Black Stars don’t step up their game.
    Hope the black stars don’t rest on their laurels on 6/16 because the US is coming out with guns blazing.The black stars can pull this off but they need to be on top of their games.Lets kick some American ass.

  23. kuukuphilly says:

    Guys Nigeria did not come to play this game to win anyone who knows football will clearly vision that.there’s no need t panick.. The black stars of ghana will come through when it matters the most.

  24. readi 2 dye says:

    THE WHITE BROUGHT THE CANNON INTO THE BUSH…BUT THE BUSH WAS WAY STRONGER THE CANNON…better believe it.

  25. African Consciousness says:

    The Black Stars must not play into the strength of the USA which is a fast paced game. Slow the game down so the USA cannot rely on their speed and fitness. This will require the Coach to field his most skilled ball handlers and passers.

  26. Milky says:

    I just re-watched the game and I feel like Nigeria didn’t want to play the game. They were really sloppy and in their defense and really selfish when they in front of goals and most of all unnecessary dribbling when they can make simple passes. It looks like Nigerians were going for self glory. I dont know if they were trying to not get hurt or they didn’t feel like playing. The US is trying to soak up pressure and then get teams on the counter – that I think will be their weak point against very skillful strikers and long rang shooter; both we have in the shape of Dede, Andre, Asamoah Gyan, Mutari and Agyman Budu to mention a few. I think If Ghana scores within the first 15 minutes of the game, they will unrattled and that would make them open to mistakes and abandoned their tactics. Nigeria plays nothing like Ghana from what I have seen. I really dont understand why everyone seems worried. We have more skillful and confidence players than Nigeria and that’s what will make the difference.
    The US wouldnt know what hit them come June 16th. They are screaming – we want Ghana, Ghana will be served to them and we will all see what they will do with Ghana. Oh boy I cant wait.

  27. lhaj says:

    Believe it or not Nigeria are one of the better African side in this tournament. Against the U.S. however they were busy enjoying their passes in the back with no urge to forge forward. The U.S. coach has employ Germany’s tactics of patient and precision to counter opponents that are not discipline with the ball or formation.

    To beat the U.S., Ghana must find an answer for Bradley in the middle and keep him from the ball as long as possible, play with two strikers to keep the U.S. back four who are not so steady on their toes, and attack Johnson as much as possible. With Ayew and K. Assamoah breathing down his throat I am sure he will be hesitant to make sure move down field, because he will not be able to keep to their pace if or when he loses the ball. I am sure AA is looking at the tapes and dissecting the weaknesses and strength of the U.S.

    The same goes for Germany with keeping Ozil and Boateng in check. Same style different coaches.

    Good Luck Black Stars!!

  28. Milky says:

    I just re-watched the game and I feel like Nigeria didn’t want to play the game. They were really sloppy and in their defense and really selfish when they in front of goals and most of all unnecessary dribbling when they can make simple passes. It looks like Nigerians were going for self glory. I dont know if they were trying to not get hurt or they didn’t feel like playing. The US is trying to soak up pressure and then get teams on the counter – that I think will be their weak point against very skillful strikers and long rang shooter; both we have in the shape of Dede, andre, Asamoah gyan, mutari and Agyman Budu to mention a few. I think If Ghana scores within the first 15 minutes of the game, they will unrattled and that would make them open to mistakes and abandoned their tactics. Nigeria plays nothing like Ghana from what I have seen. I really dont understand why everyone seems worried. We have more skillful and confidence players than Nigeria and thats what will make the difference.
    The US wouldnt know what hit them come June 16th. They are screaming – we want Ghana, Ghana will be served to them and we will all see what they will do with Ghana. Oh boy I cant wait.

  29. Proudly 9ja says:

    @texas, tones, phlin you guys are not ashamed of yourselves, what is really wrong with you guys? are you a Nigerians? what’s your business with our team?; you better stay off pray for your “Black stars” and forget about “Super Eagles” coz you have no business with them. U.S game was just a warmup game so you don’t expect much from them; secondly, we have alot of injuries issues in the camp right now Elderson Echiejile has been ruled out of the squad now replacing him with Ejike Uzoenyi.

    So, you’re not a Nigerian please stay-off, pray for your country wish them success in Brazil and stop hating on another mans house.

    SUCCESS AFRICA! GO AFRICANS!!!!

  30. Adeola says:

    I belief so much in super eagles.Nigeria always a slow starter & does not mean they would not perform at the world cup.Keshi need to work on the back four and let them no on how to run quickly with the ball.Up super eagles.

  31. Suker says:

    @ Shaolin, I agree with you perfectly. AA isnt ready for the WC. He and his boys are sleeping and day dreaming about the fat bonuses Nyantakyi has duped the electricity-less but once a great and blessed nation. Whilst other teams are preparing feverishly and playing more friendlies, our boys are showing off their cars they our money to buy. Surely AA will fail us all.

  32. jeffrey Winner says:

    Leave the Super Eagles alone and face your own bussiness. I even wonder what gives you gut to be convinced that Black Star will scape through her group, oh! I can see your witchcraft doctor has assured you, chie, i dey laugh o. CR7 will prove your witchcraft doctor wrong. Haters