SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake Captain Kyle Beckerman made his second appearance in the U.S.’s World Cup Send-Off Series, earning the start and playing 72 minutes in the Americans’ 2-1 win over Nigeria in Jacksonville, FL., on Saturday. RSL GK Nick Rimando did not make an appearance, remaining on the bench for the entire match.
The USMNT put in its most complete and dominant performance in its final friendly before heading to Brazil, with U.S. striker Jozy Altidore breaking his scoreless streak and finding the back of the net twice for the Americans. U.S. Manager Jurgen Klinsmann implemented a variation of the midfield diamond formation, opting for a more defensive posture with a 4-3-2-1 formation. The choice to play three defensive-minded midfielders ahead of the back line made room for Beckerman to start and play at the center of the three with Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya on either side of him. The position allowed Beckerman to excel in his defensive role and provide an extra layer of protection for an inexperienced back line.
The new formation worked well for the U.S. as a whole, allowing the Americans to absorb Nigeria’s pressure and then strike with the counter attack. Nigeria’s only goal came late in the match after U.S. defender Matt Besler was called for a foul inside the box resulting in a penalty kick for the African side with four minutes left to play.
With the Nigeria matchup an attempt to replicate what the Americans might face when they take on Ghana in its first match of the group stage, the Americans will surely take the positives of the win into its final week of preparation in Brazil. The Americans begin World Cup play on June 16, taking on Ghana in the Group G opener. The U.S. will then play Portugal on June 22 before facing Germany in the Group Stage finale on June 26.