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U.S. overcome Azerbaijan in World Cup warm-up

Reuters
Graham Zusi of the U.S. drives the ball as Azerbaijan's Gara Garayev defends during an international friendly soccer match in San Francisco, California
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Graham Zusi (R) of the U.S. drives the ball as Azerbaijan's Gara Garayev defends during an international …

(Reuters) - The United States got their World Cup preparations off to a positive start with a comfortable 2-0 friendly win over Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Juergen Klinsmann suffered a blow shortly before kick-off when forward Clint Dempsey was withdrawn with a 'sore groin' and San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski was brought in as his replacement alongside Jozy Altidore in attack.

Klinsmann told ESPN that Dempsey should recover from his injury in a few days and said it was purely a precautionary measure to keep the striker out of the game.

Wondolowski proved to be an able replacement, however, and almost opened the scoring inside five minutes with a diving header from a Graham Zusi free-kick but his effort was straight at Azeri keeper Kamran Agayev.

Azerbaijan, coached by German Berti Vogts who will join Klinsmann's team as a 'special advisor' for the World Cup, went close soon after when a Mahir Shukurov's curling free-kick struck the side netting.

Wondolowski's instincts were on display again when he found space to meet an Alejandro Bedoya cross with a firm header but again Agayev did well to tip over as the sides went into the break locked at 0-0.

The Americans struggled to break down a well-disciplined Azeri defence but second half substitutions proved to be the difference.

After a Michael Bradley drive was cleared off the line, Mix Diskerud pounced to drive home from close range in the 75th minute.

Two substitutes then combined for the second, eight minutes later, when Aron Johannsson headed home a Brad Davis corner.

The U.S will face Turkey and Nigeria before heading to Brazil where they are up against Ghana, Portugal and Germany in Group G.

(Writing By Simon Evans; Editing by John O'Brien)

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