Second-half goals by Diskerud, Johannsson lead US World Cup over Azerbaijan 2-0 in exhibition

The Associated Press

United States' Mix Diskerud, bottom, celebrates his goal with teammate Aron Johannsson, left, during the second half of an international friendly soccer match against Azerbaijan on Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in San Francisco. United States won 2-0. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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By JANIE McCAULEY, AP Sports Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Mix Diskerud figures the whole honor of wearing No. 10 is only temporary. He fully expects to play alongside Landon Donovan again down the road with the U.S. national team.

For one night at least, Diskerud did that jersey proud.

Diskerud and Aron Johannsson, a pair of second-half substitutes raised in Scandinavia, scored to lift a heavy-legged United States over Azerbaijan 2-0 on Tuesday night in the first of three World Cup warmups for the Americans.

"It's an honor. A lot of great players have been wearing that No. 10 for the U.S. previously," Diskerud said. "I'll enjoy it. When it comes to Landon, I'm sure that we're going to be playing together again someday, and of course he has more caps than me so I'm just borrowing the uniform right now."

The U.S. needed a boost from the bench after captain Clint Dempsey was scratched just before kickoff because of a sore left groin. But the 14th-ranked Americans had trouble breaking down No. 85 Azerbaijan.

Diskerud, born in Oslo to a father from Norway and mother from Arizona who met in college, entered in the 71st and scored four minutes later off Brad Davis' free kick.

With the ball high in the box, Diskerud headed it down to Michael Bradley, whose shot was cleared off the goal line by Elvin Yunuszade. Diskerud then banged the ball in with a right-footed shot 6 yards for his third international goal.

"It deflected, and then it was just an easy job for me to score," Diskerud said. "I got tackled exactly when I was going to shoot, and I was just laying down on the ground in agony."

He was wearing the No. 10 freed up when Donovan was cut from the roster last Thursday.

Johannsson, who was born in Mobile, Alabama, and moved to Iceland with his family when he was 3, entered in the 62nd and scored his second American goal in the 81st with an open header from the top of the 6-yard box off a corner kick by Davis, who replaced Graham Zusi at the start of the second half.

"I think we can be very happy with this game," Johannsson said. "We've been working ridiculously hard in training."

Tim Howard, making his 98th international appearance, got his 53rd win to tie Kasey Keller's U.S. record. The Americans began their intense two-week training camp May 14 at nearby Stanford University, and there appeared to be tired legs.

"It was exactly what we need at this point of our preparation after two fully loaded weeks," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "It was a tricky game. You want to open it up with a goal, and it gets easier. You want to score a bit earlier.

Next up is a match Sunday against Turkey at Harrison, New Jersey, followed by a game with Nigeria six days later in Jacksonville, Florida. Then the Americans head to Brazil for their seventh straight World Cup appearance and first-round matches against Ghana, Portugal and Germany.

"It's good to finally get going. Now we can play hard, recover, travel and go again," Howard said. "I thought it was good. I thought tonight was what we probably expected."

The Americans arrived in a red-white-and-blue bus sporting the team's slogan: "One Nation. One Team."

The focus was on Klinsmann, who made the controversial decision to cut Donovan, the American career scoring leader. Dempsey, slated to start up top with Jozy Altidore in a 4-4-2, was an unexpected absence.

"We don't want to risk here anything," said Klinsmann, who estimated Dempsey would heal in two-to-three days. "It's not serious at all."

Chris Wondolowski, a local fan favorite of the San Jose Earthquakes inserted in place of Dempsey, was stopped twice early by goalkeeper Kamran Aghayev, the first with a knee on a diving header in the fifth minute. Wondolowski's header off a cross from Alejandro Bedoya in the 15th was parried over the bar.