The World Cup year got off to a tremendous start for the U.S. National Team at the StubHub Center, as it raced to a 1-0 lead over South Korea with a fourth-minute goal by Chris Wondolowski. He added another in the second half and the U.S. came out with a 2-0 win to open the year.
However, all eyes in Seattle were on the right back position, where Brad Evans got the start and DeAndre Yedlin subbed on for him in the second half for his first cap.
Evans made nine starts at right back in 2013, making the position his own while helping the U.S. to its best ever record and first place in the Hex to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He continued on that path to start the year, taking the lead at right back throughout January camp.
He started in the match and played to the 74th minute before Klinsmann signaled the Seattle-native Yedlin to come into the match. As Evans saw his number on the placard, he jogged toward the sideline and the smile on his face grew as he approached his Sounders FC teammate, hugging him, patting him on the head and offering last-minute encouragement before Yedlin charged out to his position.
Over the final 16 minutes, Yedlin did his part to keep up the clean sheet, though Nick Rimando would need to make three saves along the way.
The story of the day for the U.S. was Wondolowski, though, as the San Jose forward continued to press for a position on the team as the World Cup fast approaches.
In the fourth minute, Graham Zusi crossed the ball for Brad Davis from the right side, but Davis had his far-post header stopped by goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong. However, the rebound spilled to Wondolowski right in front of the goal and he snapped a header into the net from point-blank range and the U.S. took a 1-0 lead before the sell-out crowd found their seats.
Rimando made a remarkable stop on a near-post header off a corner kick in the eighth minute, shielding the shot at the last possible moment to keep the ball from crossing the line.
The U.S. continued to outpossess South Korea, but couldn’t find the net the rest of the first half.
Then Wondolowski had another opportunistic strike in the second half.
Zusi again put the ball into the box, this time to the near post for Landon Donovan, but Donovan was cut off and the ball dropped a few yards behind him. There, Wondolowski charged on it and pounced for a shot that beat Jung inside the near post for his second goal of the match and a 2-0 lead in the 60th minute. That’s how the match would end, as the U.S. continued its winning ways from 2013 to start 2014.
The next scheduled match for the Americans on their march toward the World Cup is March 5 against Ukraine in Kiev.
Evans and Yedlin are expected to join Sounders FC at training camp on February 6.