Boston College alum Alejandro Bedoya scored the game-winner in the United States’ first action since the World Cup to secure a 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic in an international friendly at Generali Arena in Prague.
Bedoya tallied in the 39th minute after Mix Diskerud pounced on a poor touch from Validimir Dirida in his own end, and raced at goal. Diskerud’s shot was initially stopped by Petr Cech, but the rebound spilled to Bedoya, who ushered it into an open net.
Substitute goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who came on for starter Brad Guzan at the half, made a quartet of critical saves in the second half to preserve the victory.
The U.S. win marked the first triumph of Czech Republic in four tries. Their last encounter came in a friendly on May 25, 2010 in Hartford, Ct., where the guests grabbed at 4-2 win.
A victory was far from assured going into Wednesday’s friendly as Jurgen Klinsmann called in a decidedly youthful collection of players for the occasion. And with the Czech side days away from kicking off their Euro 2016 qualifying schedule, a heady test awaited the Americans.
After the match settled into rhythm around the 20th minute, the Europeans grabbed the first serious chance when Vaclav Pilar played it wide to Ladislav Krejci, who went on a foraging run down the left and looked to send it across goal. But John Brooks slid through at the last moment to snuff out the opportunity.
Just after the half hour mark, Tomas Rosicky sprung down the left and sent it across for Darida, who was a split second too late to reach it at the far post.
While Bedoya’s goal sent the U.S. into the break with the lead, it also served to sharpen the hosts, who came into the second half hungry to equalize and, with enough skill, grab the go-ahead.
But Rimando ensured that the scoreline would go undisturbed the rest of the way through. In the first of a series of spectacular saves, the Salt Lake keeper denied Krejci point blank in the 60th minute. Five minutes later, Rimando lowered the gate on Darida, who couldn’t convert on a golden opportunity.
The substitute keeper was called upon to sport the cape one more time in the 89th minute after thwarting a clear opportunity for Daniel Pudil, who grabbed a poor clearance from John Brooks and fired away.
Altidore serves as skipper: Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has often used the captain’s armband as a means of getting more from his skill players, and did so again on Wednesday. With Clint Dempsey fulfilling his club duties this week, Jozy Altidore was appointed as skipper for Wednesday’s friendly, marking the first time the target man was given the armband during his time with the senior team.
Cameron unable to go: Attleboro (Mass.) native was unable to play in Wednesday’s match due to what Stoke City manager Mark Hughes termed a “side strain,” an injury he suffered during an Aug. 27 clash against Portsmouth.
Halftime advantage key to success: With the victory, the U.S. improved its record to 19-0-2 when leading at the half under Klinsmann.
Home soil awaits: Rentschler Field in Hartford, Ct. will serve as the next stop for the U.S., who’ll host Ecuador on Oct. 10. The match will be the final one for Landon Donovan, who announced earlier this summer that he will retire from club soccer following the conclusion of the Los Angeles Galaxy’s season.