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Puerto Rico 1-3 USA: Klinsmann’s Copa preparations begin with comfortable win

Goals from Tim Ream, Bobby Wood and Paul Arriola eased the U.S. national team to a 3-1 friendly victory over Puerto Rico in Bayamon.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s side ramped up its preparations for the forthcoming Copa America Centenario by dominating a decidedly one-sided clash at the Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel and should have won by a far more emphatic scoreline.

Luis Betancur’s spectacular effort just before the break was a rare highlight for Puerto Rico, which struggled to retain possession against a side currently sitting 123 places above it in the FIFA rankings.

Klinsmann, however, may have been concerned by an unconvincing defensive performance from his charges and will hope for significant improvement in that department during the upcoming, more testing friendlies against Ecuador and Bolivia, by which time the German will have his MLS contingent available.

On a more positive note for the Americans, in-form striker Bobby Wood capped a lively performance with a well-taken goal, strengthening his case to replace the injured Jozy Altidore for the Copa America opener against Colombia on June 3, while 21-year-old Tijuana midfielder Arriola marked his senior international debut by finding the net early in the second half.

The visitors assumed control right from the outset, with Danny Williams dragging an early shot wide and DeAndre Yedlin seeing his goalbound effort blocked by a cluster of defenders moments later.

The U.S. deservedly took the lead in the 20th minute when home goalkeeper Matthew Sanchez could only parry Alfredo Morales’ shot from outside the box and Ream pounced to lash home the rebound for his first international goal.

Wood duly made it 2-0 14 minutes later, albeit in controversial circumstances.

With two players down injured, Puerto Rico urged the Americans to put the ball out of play, but instead they broke up field, Arriola played Wood in and the Honolulu-born striker calmly beat the advancing Sanchez.

To their credit, however, the hosts mustered a superb response just before the break. Joseph Marrero linked up with Betancur and he fired a spectacular looping effort past Brad Guzan from the edge of the box.

Puerto Rico came close to bagging a shock equalizer early in the second half when an unmarked Manolo Sanchez volleyed wide, but Jack Stefanowski’s side found itself 3-1 down in the 57th minute.

Alejandro Bedoya surged into the box down the right and pulled back unselfishly for Arriola to sidefoot home.

Emerson Hyndman then came close to adding a fourth, just failing to slide home a low cross from Williams before Morales saw a well-struck effort parried by Sanchez.

But for all its late pressure, the U.S. was unable to break down a tiring home defense and add any further gloss to the scoreline.

Sun 22 May, 2016
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