Scandinavian subs add to Klinsmann's smorgasbord

Wed May 28, 2014 12:48pm EDT
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By Simon Evans

(Reuters) - There may be a distinctly German flavor to the U.S. World Cup team but in their opening warm-up game, a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan, it was two Scandinavian-raised substitutes who made the difference.

German-born coach Juergen Klinsmann has five players on his squad who were born and raised in his homeland and all but one of them play in Germany's Bundesliga with three of them, defenders Timothy Chandler, Fabian Johnson and midfielder Jermaine Jones, expected to feature heavily in Brazil.

But after the United States struggled to break down a well-disciplined Azeri team on Tuesday, Klinsmann threw on midfielder Mix Diskerud and forward Aron Johannsson and they provided the late goals that secured the win.

"You always hope for them to recognize the moment and give you an extra spark and show what you are capable of doing," Klinsmann said of his substitutes.

"Mix comes in and fits in like he's been playing the whole game and also scores a goal."

Oslo-born midfielder Diskerud, who plays for Rosenborg in Norway, pounced to score from close range in the 75th minute and eight minutes later former Iceland youth international Johannsson headed in the second from a corner.

Diskerud, whose mother is American, has long been part of the U.S. set-up having played for the country at youth level but Johannsson, born in Alabama to Icelandic parents who left the United States when he was three-years-old, only chose Klinsmann's team last August.

Johannsson has been in prolific form for his Dutch club AZ Alkmaar, scoring 32 goals in 56 games in all competitions last season, and his capture was a major boost for Klinsmann whose first choice striker Jozy Altidore endured a miserable season in England scoring one goal for Sunderland.   Continued...

U.S. head coach Juergen Klinsmann reacts at the sideline during an international friendly soccer match against Azerbaijan in San Francisco, California May 27, 2014. REUTERS/Stephen Lam