52,000 Watch U.S. Men's Soccer Win Final Pre-World Cup Match In Jacksonville

Jun 8, 2014

The U.S. men’s national soccer team defeated Nigeria Saturday in their final exhibition match before the World Cup begins in Brazil.

After 28 goal-less matches, American striker Jozy Altidore scored in the 31st minute of the team’s final pre-World Cup match Saturday before a crowd of more than 52,ooo fans at EverBank Field.

Altidore scored again the second half, lifting the U.S. to a 2-1 victory. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said the broken slump was a good sign.

A crowd awaits the arrival of the U.S. men's national soccer team Saturday night at EverBank Field.
Credit Patrick Donges / WJCT

“Obviously it’s a wonderful message to see that Jozy put the thing in the net, and it gives him a big smile at the right time,” Klinsmann said after the game.

Altidore, one of four Florida natives on the national squad, didn’t say whether the goals did anything to reduce the pressure he faces going into the World Cup. He was confident when asked whether he felt like the team could re-create a game like their two goal semi-final shutout of Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup.

“I mean, I think it’s there. I think the team has played really well," he said. "You look at these three games against three good opponents, we played really well, and I think now looking at the World Cup; Nigeria is very similar to Ghana, so if we can emulate this performance against a team pretty similar to Nigeria in Ghana, we can start the group off the right way, and, you know, look, we all want to get out of the group, that’s a goal of ours, so I think the opportunity is there.”

The U.S. will play Ghana in their first World Cup match on June 16. Their two other opponents in the tournament’s so-called “group of death” are Germany and Portugal, ranked second and fourth in the world respectively.

Check our our Facebook page for more photos of the U.S. team's arrival and the fans at Saturday's game.

You can follow Patrick Donges  on Twitter @patrickhdonges.