Each January, the U.S. men's national team convenes for a month-long training camp that concludes with an international friendly. This year, the opponent was South Korea, and the result was a 2-0 victory for the Yanks in front of a sold-out StubHub Center crowd.
San Jose Earthquakes designated player Chris Wondolowski lead the way for the USMNT, scoring in the 4th and 60th minutes to pace the win. The two goals increased Wondolowski's international career total to eight -- all scored since a scintillating run last summer that saw the Quakes forward earn a share of the 2013 Gold Cup golden boot award.
The first goal of the match came as a result of a superb shot attempt by Houston Dynamo captain Brad Davis. Latching onto a curling cross near the far post, Davis directed a ball on target that Korean goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong parried off the line but not to safety. Instead, cutting in from the near post was Wondolowski, and he stabbed the ball home with a purposeful header to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
On the defensive side, the center back duo of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler did well to contain Korea and its 6'6" striker Kim Shin-Wook. But it was goalkeeper Nick Rimando that kept the visitors off the scoreboard when he made a desperate goal line grab on a Korean corner kick opportunity. Keeping the ball just inside the field of play, even with his body well inside the goal, the Real Salt Lake stopper flashed the quality goalkeeping that could make him a part of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's 23-man World Cup roster.
With all but Mix Diskerud on the current January camp roster members of MLS, the match against Korea was a proving ground for those playing domestically. And in the second half, it was Wondolowski again making his case to be on the plane to Brazil this June. On a throw-in the 60th minute, some good interplay by Graham Zusi and Landon Donovan teed the ball up in the area for Wondolowski to smash home into the right side of the target.
The U.S. had only five shots on goal all afternoon, but Wondolowski made great work of his two, and gives Klinsmann plenty to think about this spring as he sets up his World Cup roster.
Following goal number two from Wondolowski and before the Koreans could restart the game, the U.S. made a trio of substitutions. Earthquakes center back Clarence Goodson spelled Besler in defense, earning his 45 cap for the USMNT, and Eddie Johnson came in for Wondolowski, who left the pitch to a standing ovation from the approving crowd.
The Yanks were little tested over the final 30 minutes of the match, and the home side earned the shutout in their first match of the calendar year. The victory pushed Rimando's record as a starter to a perfect 10-0-0, tied for the fifth-most wins along with Brad Guzan in USMNT history.
Next up for the U.S. is a friendly against Ukraine on March 5 in Kharkiv. And while the match against Korea featured an almost-all MLS roster, Klinsmann is expected to name a squad of primarily European-based players against Ukraine.
Match: U.S. Men's National Team vs. Korea Republic
Date: Feb. 1, 2014
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: StubHub Center; Carson, Calif.
Kickoff: 2 p.m. PT
Attendance: 27,000 (so)
Weather: 69 degrees, sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
KOR 0 0 0
USA - Chris Wondolowski (Brad Davis) 4th minute
USA - Chris Wondolowski (unassisted) 60
Lineups:USA: 1-Nick Rimando; 2-Brad Evans (14-DeAndre Yedlin, 74), 5-Matt Besler (21-Clarence Goodson, 60), 4-Omar Gonzalez, 3-Michael Parkhurst; 6-Kyle Beckerman, 8-Mix Diskerud (15-Benny Feilhaber, 60), 10-Landon Donovan (capt.), 7-Graham Zusi (20-Eric Alexander, 82), 11-Brad Davis (16-Luis Gil, 75), 9-Chris Wondolowski (18-Eddie Johnson, 60)
Subs Not Used: 12-Sean Johnson, 17-Dax McCarty Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
KOR: 1-Sung-Ryong Jung; 20-Jin-Su Kim (19-Taehwan Kim, 79), 6-Ju-Young Kim, 16-Kee-Hee Kim, 14-Yong Lee; 8-Ho Lee (13-Myung-Joo Lee, 70), 22-Jong-Woo Park, 15-Min-Woo Kim, 17-Yohan Go; 11-Keun-Ho Lee (18-Seunggi Lee, 70), 9-Shin-Wook Kim
Subs Not Used: 21-Seunggyu Kim, 23-Bumyoung Lee, 3-Dae-Ho Kim, 4-Min-soo Kang, 5-Ji-Nam Lee, 2-Jinpo Park, 12-Jinhyung Song, 7-Kihun YeomHead Coach: Hong Myung-Bo
Stats Summary: USA / KOR
Shots: 9 / 16
Shots on Goal: 5 / 6
Saves: 5 / 2
Corner Kicks: 1 / 6
Fouls: 12 / 11
Offside: 1 / 0
Referee: Hugo Cruz (CRC)
Assistant Referee 1: Octavio Jara (CRC)
Assistant Referee 2: Warner Castro (CRC)
Fourth Official: Henry Bejarano (CRC)
Budweiser Man of the Match: