Chris Wondolowski found the back of the net twice to lead the United States to a 2-0 victory over South Korea at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA. on Saturday afternoon in the team’s first match of 2014. The friendly match was the culmination of a month long U.S. National Team camp of mostly MLS based players that saw the team spend significant time training in both Carson and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Wondolowski opened the scoring in just the third minute, heading in a rebound off a Brad Davis shot to give the U.S. the early lead. The San Jose Earthquakes striker would double his tally in the 60th minute blasting home a shot from close range off a back-heeled pass from Landon Donovan. Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando made several huge saves to preserve shutout.
The U.S. started with a line-up featuring many of the more experienced players on the roster. Rimando started in goal behind a backline of right back Brad Evans, center backs Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler, and left back Michael Parkhurst.
Mix Diskerud started alongside Kyle Beckerman in central midfield, while Graham Zusi and Davis patrolled the wings. Donovan – captain for the match – played just behind Wondolowski.
The U.S. got off to a flying start and took the lead in just the third minute after Zusi sent a dangerous cross into the box. Davis got on the end of Zusi’s effort and volleyed a shot on frame, but Korean goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong made the save. The rebound fell right to Wondolowski, however, and he easily headed it over the line into the open net to put the U.S. on the board.
South Korea nearly grabbed the equalizer in the 8th minute when Park Jong-Woo sent a corner kick to Kim Ju-Young at the near post. Ju-Young flicked a header on frame from a difficult angle that Rimando managed to save and keep hold of, though there was some question as to whether the ball crossed the line before RImando blocked it.
Lee Keun-Ho had another great chance for South Korea in the 18th minute, finding space down the left flank for the visitors off a defensive giveaway. Keun-Ho ran in on goal, but blasted his shot high from close range.
The U.S. was finally back on the attack in the 30th minute with Brad Evans powering forward down the right flank. Evans attempted a powerful low shot, but it was from too tight an angle and Sung-Ryong collected it at the near post.
Rimando was called back into action in the 34th minute, but did well to hold a Lee Ho shot from about 25 yards out.
The U.S. then nearly doubled their lead in the 43rd minute when Gonzalez played a long ball forward that Wondolowski managed to beat his defender to and ran towards the end line. Wondolowski sent a hard square pass towards Donovan which beat Sung-Ryong, but just eluded Donovan for what would’ve been an empty net finish.
South Korea came out strong in the second half and had a dangerous chance in the 58th minute when Jong-Woo sent a dangerous cross into the box. Kim Shin-Wook beat his defender to the ball and directed a powerful header on frame, but Rimando was again able to make the save.
Wondolowski doubled the U.S. lead in the 60th minute after Zusi got the ball off a throw in on the right flank and sent a low cross into the box. Donovan back heeled a pass from the 6-yard box to Wondolowski, who blasted a shot into the net for his second goal of the night.
That was Wondolowski’s last touch of the game as head coach Jurgen Klinsmann made three changes immediately after. Eddie Johnson replaced Wondolowski, Clarence Goodson came in for Besler and Benny Feilhaber entered for Diskerud.
Ten minutes later, two of the youngest members on the squad, 20-year-olds DeAndre Yedlin and Luis Gil entered the match for Evans and Davis, for their full national team debuts. Both participated in last summer’s U-20 World Cup. Eric Alexander also came on for his second ever appearance, replacing Zusi in the 82nd minute.
The match came to an uneventful finish from there as the U.S. left 2-0 winners. The U.S. returns to action with a March 5 friendly against the Ukraine in Kharkiv. The Americans are likely to have their strongest squad available for that match.