Jozy Altidore gave USA and himself a much-needed boost of confidence after scoring both goals in his side’s 2-1 win over Nigeria on Saturday.
The Sunderland striker struck in either half as Jurgen Klinsmann’s side secured a comfortable victory in their final World Cup warm-up, with a late penalty from Victor Moses not enough for Stephen Keshi’s Super Eagles to earn a share of the spoils.
While many would have benched Altidore ahead of USMNT’s final 90 minutes ahead of their World Cup opener against Ghana on Monday week, coach Klinsmann maintained his belief in the Sunderland striker.
His faith was repaid, not once, but twice, as Altidore gave USA the perfect send off for their Brazilian campaign and laid to rest some of the concerns over the omission of Landon Donovan from the 23-man squad.
The only blemish on USA’s display – completing an unbeaten three-game warm-up series after previous wins over Azerbaijan and Turkey – was conceding a late penalty, converted by Moses, which denied Everton’s Tim Howard a clean sheet while making his 100th international appearance, reports goal.com.
While Klinsmann enjoyed the luxury of a fully fit squad for this match, his Nigerian counterpart Keshi was using this match to reshape his line-up after injuries had accounted for Monaco defender Elderson Echiejile – who misses the World Cup with a hamstring tea – and CSKA Moscow winger Ahmed Musa, another injury victim from the Greece friendly.
Kenneth Omeruo, meanwhile, had been unable to practice with the squad since suffering a heavy knock in a training ground incident on Thursday.
Perhaps it was the potential threat of injury that meant neither side appeared fully committed in the early exchanges, meaning opportunities were few and far between.
If Keshi had been hoping for a quiet day, then his heart must have skipped a beat when Celtic defender Efe Ambrose – operating at right-back – was clattered by USA midfielder Jermaine Jones.
Ambrose lay motionless for a moment, but resumed after being treated for a knock to his hip, much to the relief of the Super Eagles bench.
USA gradually played themselves into the game and with their first real passing move broke the deadlock on 32 minutes. After Jones had found Bedoya, the Nantes winger slipped in the advanced Fabian Johnson, and the Hoffenheim right back squared across goal for Altidore to apply the finishing touch.