52914_isi_bradley_johannsson_usmntdb05272014113 David Bernal/isiphotos.com
Send-Off Series

So Long San Francisco, New York Here We Come

American Soccer Now takes one last look back at Tuesday's Send-Off Series match between the U.S. national team and Azerbaijan, with comments from Mix Diskerud, Jurgen Klinsmann, and Michael Bradley
BY Jon Arnold Posted
May 29, 2014
10:57 AM
SAN FRANCISCO—Candlestick Park is notorious for its high winds, with the soon-to-be-demolished stadium sitting on land that juts into the San Francisco Bay. The wind swirled Tuesday night, clearly affecting the placement of several long balls.

That added a level of difficulty to the match, according to manager Jurgen Klinsmann and a number of players.

“We needed to grind it out. That’s what we told the players before,” Klinsmann said at a news conference after the match. “You’ve got to be patient, you’ve got to find a way to score a goal, and maybe a second one. Wondo was a bit unlucky and could’ve done that right at the beginning, but overall tricky with the conditions as you saw.

“The wind was taking the ball all over the place, but I think everyone did fine, did exactly what we hoped they would do. We had the chance as we discussed yesterday to have a lot of subs in, give them playing time as well. I think that it was fine too.”

As a set-piece taker and frequent crosser of the ball, Brad Davis had to adapt to the conditions when he was inserted at halftime.

The wind "definitely affected it,” Davis said. “I definitely had to adjust a little bit after the first couple, so it was difficult. It was tough but both teams had to play in it, we just adjust to it.”

Michael Bradley also cited the conditions as a reason the Americans weren’t as crisp.

“I mean look, it’s a difficult game for a lot of reasons,” he said. “Obviously the conditions, the wind, make it difficult and look, this is a team that’s difficult to play against. You watch them play qualifiers in Europe against good teams and they make it hard. They close space down, they’re organized.

“So, the challenge, the training exercise for us tonight was now trying to find space, trying to find ways to break them down, and I think at times that part was good, at times it could’ve been a little better. But it’s normal that after 10 days, two weeks of hard work that part still, in stretches, was good but can still be even better.”

Wearing the 10

Mix Diskerud is wearing the No. 10 kit, and he scored, but it’s not something he’s been chasing after.

“Choosing? Oh, I didn’t, I didn’t choose. We got it handed out,” Diskerud said when asked about his jersey number. “It’s an honor, you know? A lot of great players have been wearing that No. 10 for the U.S. previously, so I’ll enjoy it.

“When it comes to Landon, I’m sure that we’re going to be playing together again some day, and of course he has more caps for me, so I’m just borrowing the 10 right now.”

The mention of Donovan, the all-time leader in goals and assists for the U.S., was unprompted, but Diskerud had been putting some thought into taking on that shirt number and even asked for some veteran advice.

“Everybody has their own feeling on numbers, everyone has their own preference,” Bradley said. “For me, personally I’m pretty attached to number four, so Mix was excited about the idea of wearing it.

“He’s a good kid. He works hard, he comes in with the right attitude, and even mentioned something to me yesterday about wanting to make sure it was done in a respectful way to Landon. I said, 'Listen that’s not something you have to worry about. Landon understands that it’s all part of it.' In a team these things have a way of sorting themselves out.”

Counting Vogts

Azerbaijan manager Berti Vogts is set to begin several scouting trips for the U.S., but Tuesday his eyes were mostly focused on his club.

“No, today I have only to look for my players,” Vogts said. “We played with a lot of young players. Then when the level changed in the second half, it was not so good, but the players have to learn their lesson. That’s important in football. Next match we have in two months and after that then we play Bulgaria in the European competition. This was a very, very good test.”

He still was able to see what the U.S. did and generally thought the team had a good performance.

“They played well, they were powerful as you could see as they were looking for the target. That was the first match, high speed, it’s very important to play aggressive. They looked good,” he said.

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