Jozy Altidore netted twice in the USA's 2-1 win over visiting Nigeria in a pre-World Cup friendly on June 7, 2014, at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo: Steven Limentani/isiphotos)
JACKSONVILLE, Florida – In a battle between the current champions of CONCACAF and Africa, Jozy Altidore broke a prolonged personal scoring drought on Saturday, striking twice as the United States recorded a 2-1 victory over Nigeria before 52,033 fans at EverBank Field.
The 24-year-old connected in each half of the pre-World Cup friendly after not finding the back of the net in 27 matches for club and country.
Victor Moses converted a penalty kick in the waning minutes for the Nigerians, spoiling a shutout bid by goalkeeper Tim Howard, who became the 15th American to reach the 100 cap mark.
The host completed its three warm-up matches with a perfect 3-0-0 record, also besting Azerbaijan, 2-0, in San Francisco on May 27 and edged Turkey, 2-1, in Harrison, New Jersey, on June 1.
In contrast to their first two outings, the Americans did not deploy a diamond formation. Instead, they used a 4-2-3-1 alignment with Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman manning the defensive midfield roles and Michael Bradley as more of an attacker.
The U.S. took a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute as Altidore broke a 1,893 minute scoreless streak that dated back to December.
Overlapping right-back Fabian Jones sent the Sunderland striker a ball from the right side across the goalmouth. Altidore was positioned unmarked on the left and tapped in easily with his right foot from four-feet out past goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.
Goal-scoring opportunities for both teams in the opening half were few and far between. Before Altidore registered, Michael Bradley's blast off a Clint Dempsey feed was knocked away by Enyeama for a corner kick in the 24th minute.
Howard enjoyed a relatively quiet time, as his most difficult situation came in the 44th minute, when he stopped Efe Ambrose's quick header.
In 68th minute, Altidore gave the U.S. a two-goal advantage with his 23rd international goal, latching onto a long Bradley feed and firing past Enyeama from 12 yards.
The lead was halved in the 86th minute on Moses' penalty kick after center back Matt Besler took down the Nigeria attacker in the box.
The U.S. departs for Brazil on Sunday. It will play Belgium in a closed-door match and then open against Ghana in Natal on June 16.