SAN FRANCISCO — 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 to a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan 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 minute 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 out 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 minute 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,” said 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.