If the U.S. National Team was hoping for an easy warm-up with its friendly against Azerbaijan on Tuesday. It was greeted with an unwelcome surprise.
In the highly-anticipated first match of the Send-Off Series for the U.S. National Team, captain Clint Dempsey was scratched just minutes before kickoff and was replaced in the starting lineup by Chris Wondolowski.
U.S. Soccer announced the change shortly before the match started, saying Dempsey's removal was a precaution because of groin soreness. Meanwhile, DeAndre Yedlin subbed into the match in the 62nd minute and played the final 28 minutes at right back as the U.S. won 2-0 in its first match after a rigorous two-week training camp.
"It was exactly what we needed at this point of our preparation after two fully-loaded weeks at Stanford. They gave us a good game and we had to grind it out. We told the players before the game we had to be patient," Klinsmann said.
In the first 15 minutes of the match, Wondolowski found himself on the end of a pair of crosses, but both headers were stopped by Azerbaijan goalkeeper Kamran Agayev.
Graham Zusi first found Wondolowski for a diving header off a free kick on the right side and Agayev made the reaction save. Then the U.S. played a short corner before Alejandro Bedoya pelted a cross to Wondolowski for another header from the middle of the box that was again stopped by Agayev to keep the match scoreless.
"We knew it was going to be tricky with the conditions out there," Klinsmann said. "Overall, we're happy with it, but we know there's a lot of work still ahead of us."
Klinsmann made three halftime subs, bringing Omar Gonzalez, Timmy Chandler and Brad Davis on for Geoff Cameron, DaMarcus Beasley and Zusi, respectively, in an effort to spark something on the offensive end. He later added Aron Johannsson and Mix Diskerud in place of Wondolowksi and Alejandro Bedoya, along with Yedlin coming on for Fabian Johnson.
And finally in the 75th minute, Diskerud got the U.S. on the board after a Michael Bradley shot rebounded to him and he hammered it into the net with a right-footed volley for his third international goal and a 1-0 lead.
"It feels good coming off the bench and providing a goal for the team," Diskerud said on ESPN2 after the match. "We wanted a few goals in the first half, but it's alright that they come in the second."
Johannsson made it 2-0 when he nodded a Davis corner kick into the net in the 81st minute.
The U.S. will play two more matches in the Send-Off Series, meeting Turkey on June 1 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, and Nigeria on June 7 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.
As for Dempsey, Klinsmann thinks his captain will be ready for the remaining friendly matches before the team leaves for Brazil.
"It's not serious at all. He had a little bit of pain yesterday in training and in warmup he was just a little bit nervous about it," Klinsmann said. "It should be no problem at all for Turkey."