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Substitutes make the difference, whose stock rose for US national team?

May 28, 2014, 12:52 AM EDT

Azerbaijan v United States Getty Images

For over 70 minutes the U.S. national team struggled to break down Azerbaijan in San Francisco on Tuesday night.

Then the substitutes showed up and started to make a massive impact on a match that badly needed it. Both goals came from guys who jumped off the bench in Mikkel Diskerud and Aron Johannsson. Job done.

Brad Davis arrived as a sub at half time with plenty of energy, had a big hand in both goals and was a constant pest in the 2-0 friendly win.

Jurgen Klinsmann will be delighted with the impact his subs had and we will surely see the following three guys given plenty more minutes against Turkey and Nigeria in the final two sendoff games before the World Cup begins.

[MORE: Diskerud, Johannsson come throughPlayer ratings | Three things]

Let’s break it down and see if Davis, Diskerud and Johannsson can force their way into the USA’s starting lineup.

  • Brad Davis

The Houston Dynamo winger was a huge plus for Jurgen Klinsmann as he whipped in a great free kick which led to Diskerud’s opener, then delivered another pacey set piece from a corner for Johannsson to head home. You know what you are going to get with Davis. He will get his head down, get wide and whip in great deliveries. He also found some great pockets of space in and around the box and should’ve won a PK. Could it be a straight-shot between Graham Zusi, Alejandro Bedoya and Davis for two of the three wide spots in Brazil? You betcha.

  • Mikkel Diskerud

After 18 games Diskerud has scored three goals for the U.S. and once again proved he has the required impact off the bench by scoring after just four minutes on the pitch. The Rosenborg midfielder is seen as a bit of a luxury player by most USMNT fans as his slick passing and slight frame fit in with his long flowing locks. Haircuts aside, his role as a playmaker could see him jump off the bench plenty of times in Brazil if the USA are failing to unlock the opponents defense. Mix can finish and almost had another goal after a super run from the right. Right place, right time… that’s a good habit to have around tournament time. However that ‘supersub’ moniker could be exactly what sees Mix remain on the bench.

  • Aron Johannsson

In truth, Johannsson didn’t do much for the 30 minutes he was on the field as a second half sub. Then… bang. The AZ Alkmaar striker had once chance and scored one goal with a clinical header. What more can you ask for from your striker? After a red-hot season in Holland with AZ (Johannsson scored 26 goals in 51 games) the Icelandic-American forward is the most potent attacker the USMNT possesses. If he continues to score against Turkey and Nigeria in the next two games, do you start him over Jozy Altidore in Brazil? Or do you start him alongside Altidore and push Clint Dempsey back into midfield? Johannsson seems hell-bent to make Klinsmann’s decision regarding his strikers an incredibly tough one.

  1. tridecagon - May 28, 2014 at 3:35 AM

    Mmm. Bradley as the holding mid and Dempsey behind Altidore and Johansson? Not sure I’d start that way against Portugal or Germany, but if we need to push the attack…

  2. midtec2005 - May 28, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    Kyle Beckermans stock rose.

    • dws110 - May 28, 2014 at 12:08 PM

      As much as I dislike Beckerman, I dislike Jones more. At least with Beckerman you know you’re gonna get a guy who stays home and protects the back four, with Jones, it always feels like he’s planning to go marauding without a care in the world. Bad things happen when Jones starts thinking crazy thoughts.

      • braxtonrob - May 28, 2014 at 1:19 PM

        @dws110, I agree with you completely, plus, … Beckerman has better chemistry with Bradley, … and this team lacked chemistry against Azerbaijan.

      • jimmycrackcorn99 - May 28, 2014 at 1:34 PM

        He was on his best behaviour yesterday, and for my taste as a holding mid, did a pretty good job.

  3. peiferinc - May 28, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    In my book, I thought Wondo’s stock rose more than Johannsson. Wondo created multiple chances that just didn’t make it in the back of the net. And that was in a crowded box while being marked. Johannsson, although he got the goal didn’t do too much until then, and honestly, he was completely unmarked. It would have been embarrassing if he had missed that. Even though Johannson scored at the end, I think if Wondo was in instead of him, Wondo would have scored as well if he was marked like that.

  4. bobinkc - May 28, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    Any team will wind up struggling against what amounts to a 5-man front when you pull your outside backs and run them up the sides. The middle is packed in that way and the defense has no clue which way the ball will go next.

  5. el timo - May 29, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    Timmy Chandler deserves mention here. He moved from end to end with pace, connected well with Davis, and brought some sorely-needed balance to the US attack.

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