WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — Jozy Altidore scored a pair of second-half goals in his return to the U.S. national team following an injury filled summer, and the Americans rallied to beat Peru 2-1 in an exhibition Friday night.
Preparing for next month’s one-game playoff against Mexico for a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup, the Americans fell behind in the 20th minute. Daniel Chavez’s 20-yard shot caromed off defender Omar Gonzalez and looped over the outstretched right arm of goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who retained the starting job despite the return of Tim Howard from a 14-month national team sabbatical.
While the visitors had a 59-41 percent possession advantage in the first half, Altidore dampened the mostly pro-Peruvian crowd 28,896 at RFK Stadium, where the Americans improved to 15-3-5 at their most frequently used venue.
Altidore was sent home by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann after the group stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July because he failed to regain fitness following a hamstring injury. Against Peru, he played his strongest national team game in more than a year.
He earned a penalty kick from Mexican referee Francisco Chacon when he flicked the ball over Carlos Zambrano and was tripped by the defender. Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese dove left to block the penalty kick, but the ball bounded to Altidore, who side-footed it into an empty net from 5 yards in the 59th minute.
Guzan sprawled to his right to deny Juan Manuel Vargas’ goal-bound header off a free kick eight minutes later and blocked Renato Tapia’s close-range effort off the rebound.
Altidore then started the move to the second goal when he passed to DeAndre Yedlin bursting down a flank. Yedlin cut the ball back for Altidore, and it ricocheted off a Peruvian to the other side of the field. Gyasi Zardes’ cross deflected off a defender to Altidore, who kicked the ball in from 3 yards at the far post.
With his first multigoal match since June 2014 against Nigeria, Altidore increased his total to 29 international goals, one behind Brian McBride for fourth on the American career list behind Landon Donovan (57), Dempsey (40) and Eric Wynalda (34).
Jermaine Jones played well in his first national team match since he was a central defender in a 2-0 exhibition win over Panama on Feb. 8. Back in a defensive midfield role, Jones started and stayed in until the 72nd minute. Jones missed two months of the Major League Soccer season, returned Aug. 1 following two hernia operations and had played just 122 minutes over three matches since then for New England.
Klinsmann started Michael Orozco at right back and kept the rest of his defensive line the same as in the penalty-kicks loss to Panama in the Gold Cup third-place match in July: Omar Gonzalez and John Brooks were in the center, and Tim Ream was on the left.
Outside backs DaMarcus Beasley, Fabian Johnson and Tim Chandler are hurt. Geoff Cameron, who skipped the Gold Cup at the request of Stoke, entered at right back for the start of the second half.
The U.S. was missing midfielder Michael Bradley and forward Clint Dempsey, who remained with their MLS teams and are expected to join the national team ahead of Tuesday’s exhibition against Brazil at Foxborough, Massachusetts.
NOTE: St. Vincent and the Grenadines beat visiting Aruba 2-0 in the first leg of their World Cup qualifying matchup, which finishes Tuesday. The U.S. opens qualifying against the winner on Nov. 13 in St. Louis. The group also includes Trinidad and Tobago and the winner of the third-round Antigua and Barbuda-Guatemala pairing. Host Antigua won 1-0 Friday in the first leg.
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