52814_isi_subs_usmntdb05272014105 David Bernal/isiphotos.com
Send-Off Series

Substitutes Spark Flagging American Attack

A trio of substitutes came off the bench in the United States' 2-0 win against Azerbaijan and all made their case for more time going forward. Jon Arnold reports from San Francisco.
BY Jon Arnold Posted
May 28, 2014
1:25 PM
SAN FRANCISCO — The 23-man roster is set, but Jurgen Klinsmann’s player know they have to continue making their cases.

Players will tell you their dream isn’t just to go to the World Cup, though that’s nice. The dream is to play.

With the U.S. attack looking meager against Azerbaijan, a trio of substitutes made a strong push for more playing time by keying a 2-0 win.

Midfielder Brad Davis entered the match at the half, forward Aron Johannsson came in at the 62nd minute, and Mix Diskerud was the last of Klinsmann’s six changes when he replaced Alejandro Bedoya in the 71st minute.

Davis played a few crosses and had his set piece lead to Diskerud’s opening goal - with a compliment as well to Michael Bradley’s, whose rebound Diskerud steered past Azeri keeper Kamaran Aghayev.

Johannsson had a goal of his own from Davis’ corner kick, with the opposing defense operating under an “Ignorance is Bliss” policy toward defending the Icelandic-American forward. Johannsson made no mistake, though he could’ve been forgiven for being a bit taken aback at how unmarked he was.

“All three came on and did a really good job, they all three found good space, brought energy and were able to make a difference,” Bradley said. The hope is that in every game we play we get that kind of contribution from the guys who come off the bench.”

Prior to the match, Klinsmann said he’d use all of his permitted substitutions, and he’d do so earlier than is his usual tendency. The players still didn’t know exactly when they’d be entering the match, so each player had to be ready to go into the match and instantly impact the proceedings.

“We knew we were going to make some subs. I didn’t know it was going to be right at halftime. Right before the whistle blew, they told me that I was going to go in,” Davis said. “Sitting there you’ve always got to be prepared, so I got prepared quick as I could.”

“I wanted to try to come in and make the best impact that I could. Go in there, get forward, try and get some balls in the box, continue to try and create chances for team because we felt like once we got the first goal, we could get another one.”

Diskerud was a bit more succinct when he summed up his performance, saying “That was fun! It was a great experience playing here in San Francisco, got some family out here so they got to enjoy the experience as well.”

“Every game we have I try to show a little something, so I try to mix it up a little bit,” he added later, with perhaps a subtle allusion to his own name.

Davis’ strong performance in a match when most players looked unremarkable had to be a boost for the Houston Dynamo man, whose inclusion in the final squad surprised many. The coaching staff has said his inclusion was not at Landon Donovan’s expense, but that view persists, as does the view that the Americans are a bit lacking in late-game attacking options off the bench.

The trio from Tuesday will hope they can continue earning the manager’s confidence and providing a boost for the U.S. when the Stars and Stripes are flagging. The next opportunity is June 1 against Turkey before a final Send-Off Series match against Nigeria.

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