US vs Nigeria preview: Watching Jozy and the back line

5 Comments

The United States men’s national team wraps up its “friendly” preparation for the World Cup with its lone send-off series match against another team headed for Brazil: Nigeria.

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi told PST’s Kyle Bonn that Nigeria plays a similar style to the Yanks’ first World Cup opponent in Ghana. And while Keshi wishes he had more time to get Nigeria ready for the big dance, the US coach sees the week-and-a-half of prep time for Ghana as plenty.

Klinsmann wasn’t interested in¬†nailing down a formation for the media in Jacksonville on Friday, but he’ll be tipping his hand when he rolls out his Starting XI. The match kicks off at 6pm ET and will be just the second time the US has faced Nigeria (the first being a 3-2 win Stateside in 1995).

Scoring from forwards is at the forefront of many a mind. The States have scored a pair of goals in each of the first two send-off games, the first a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan and the second a 2-1 defeat of Turkey.

While Aron Johannsson and Clint Dempsey have tallied — the States other goals have come from Mix Diskerud and Fabian Johnson — and Chris Wondolowski did plenty of threatening against Azerbaijan, the Yanks have yet to see a goal from Jozy Altidore.

After the big man’s unproductive season for Sunderland, there’s been plenty of hope that No. 17 would find his quality national team form. But Altidore still hasn’t scored for the USMNT since an October goal against Jamaica. While there are good things to be said about his work in the send-off matches — just as there was for Sunderland — he still needs to put the ball between the sticks.

And it’d be nice to see Team America keep a clean sheet against a dangerous Nigeria team. It’s the last match before Ghana, and a perfect preparatory chance for Matt Besler and his back line mates.