After all the controversy with Landon Donovan last week, we're finally at the point where we can say it is time to have life after Landon.
Jurgen Klinsmann tried to have his main starting XI out on the field in the first half but it wasn't meant to be as Clint Dempsey opted not to start due to a late scratch. Thankfully though, he'll be good to go once things really begin to heat up in the next couple of weeks.
Here are a few take aways that I had from last night's match.
Diamonds might not be forever
Without Dempsey, Klinsmann brought out a 4-4-2 formation that featured a diamond in the middle. The thing was, with Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones in the middle of the group, it featured two players that really aren't in their best positions. This may work against teams that play more like Mexico - which was the last time the US trotted onto the field with a diamond back in April.
By and large, Jones just didn't cut it for me in the middle of the field with Bradley. As much as Bradley worked his tail off, Jones just doesn't compliment his game as well as someone like Dempsey does. Not to mention the fact that both Graham Zusi and Alejando Bedoya were tucking a little more inside the midfield rather than playing wide also complicated things in my book.
It wasn't all that bad however. Bradley showed that his ability to get forward into the attack, particularly on the counter showed some good life. In the 40th minute we nearly saw Jozy Altidore shake off his rust from a long and brutal English season thanks to some hard work from Bradley.
My gut tells me Alitdore will come alive once Dempsey is back on the field with him. Given how Zusi and Bedoya play in the midfield on the flanks, it is really only a matter of time before things begin to click again for him.
Hard to take much from this game
In a way, this was the pre-tune up game for the United States. The tune up before the tune ups if you will. Azerbaijan is ranked 85th in the World and was never really brought in to truly test the US. Given how Dempsey didn't start as a precautionary measure against a team that basically packed it in on defense, it was truly tough to take a ton away from this game as a whole.
The best thing to see though was the set piece ability of the US last night. Zusi's service in the first half was solid and Chris Wondolowski had a couple nice chances to get on the board. Thankfully in the second half the US was able to capitalize on Mix Diskerud and Aron Johannsson's finishing around the goal to win this one. Speaking of Johannsson, I wouldn't be shocked if he ends up leading the US in scoring in this tournament.
Thankfully in the coming weeks we'll see the US tested more before they head to Brazil to face the likes of Ghana, Portugal and Germany. Upcoming friendlies against Turkey and Nigeria should get the US ready for the first two games but the closed-door scrimmage in Brazil against Belgium will be the best final tune-up the US could ask for here.
Mix in the 10
The whole Donovan not in the 23 discussion isn't going away anytime soon. The big discussion over the last couple of days was centering around who would be wearing the number 10 shirt from now on.
Enter Diskerud. The right fit in my mind to don that number. His skill on the ball and personality fit that mold that I would be looking for in a 10. And it was fitting that he would score the game-winner in the end too last night. Sometimes, things are just meant to be.