The United States kicked off its 2018 World Cup cycle with a shorthanded 1-0 victory against the Czech Republic in a Wednesday friendly on NBCSN.
They can thank second-half goalkeeper Nick Rimando for not allowing an equalizer, as the Real Salt Lake netminder made a trio of outstanding saves in a hard-earned victory.
Ale Bedoya put home a rebound after Petr Cech saved a shot from Mix Diskerud in the 38th minute for the goal. Diskerud created the chance with a big interception that lead a 3v2 break.
It was a tale of two halves, as substitutions from both sides had the Czechs on the front foot for most of the second half.
The States were without Geoff Cameron, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and a bevy of MLS stars in the first game of Tim Howard’s break from playing for the national team. They started youngsters Joe Gyau, Julian Green and John Anthony Brooks before handing debuts to Greg Garza and 18-year-old Emerson Hyndman.
Both teams had chances over the course of the first half. The States had more consistent pressure and possession, but the Czechs showed plenty of danger on the counterattack.
Joe Gyau of Borussia Dortmund recorded the first shot of the match when he picked up an almost-picked off pass from Altidore and hit a low-powered shot that Cech collected. Overall, he was perhaps the most impressive player of the opening stanza.
The States snagged their goal when Diskerud darted in to pick off a sloppy pass in Czech territory. His shot was pushed aside by Cech, but Bedoya followed the play and coolly slotted a left-footed pass inside the post. It was 1-0 in the 29th minute.
The States subbed on Nick Rimando and Tim Ream at halftime, and opened up the second half with a lot of possession, but spent a solid
The Czechs seized momentum around the 55th minute, and that’s when Rimando made the play of the half, posting a strong left-footed save on Krejci, who was sprung 1v1 on goal after a free kick.
Greg Garza, Brek Shea and Alfredo Morales entered the fray in the 63rd minute, with the days of Corona, Diskerud and Chandler coming to a close.
The changes again forced Rimando into action. After Ream had to clear a mistake by Gyau, the Real Salt Lake goalkeeper had to leap to punch away a hopeful equalizer.
Hyndman is now cap-tied to the United States after entering the game for a hobbled Bedoya in the 68th minute.
The Czechs continued to push for an equalizer, asking questions that their finishers just couldn’t answer. The States were off-balance on the road against a team getting ready to begin Euro 2016 qualification next week, and were fortunate to emerge with the win.
Hyndman made a horrible giveaway in the 84th minute, but to his credit raced back to recover the ball.
Rimando was called on one more time to parry a hard-hit shot in the 87th minute, as the RSL man shone in his 45 minutes of work. He was again called upon in the 90th minute, somehow stopping a 2v1 inside of the goal mouth. Stunning.
#USMNT wins 1-0. U.S. has never lost when Nick Rimando has played (13-0-2).
— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) September 3, 2014
Three minutes of stoppage time led to nothing for the Czech Republic, as the States pulled off the win.
The US is off until Oct. 10 and 14, when they’ll host friendlies against Ecuador and Honduras.
United States: Guzan (Rimando, 46′), F. Johnson, Orozco (Ream, 46′), Brooks, Chandler (Garza, 63′); Bedoya (Hyndman, 68′), Corona (Shea, 63′), Diskerud (Morales, 63′); Green, Altidore, Gyau
Goal: Bedoya (39)