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Team USA defeats Czech Republic as Klinsmann eyes 2018 World Cup

By James Masters, CNN
updated 4:59 PM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
Team USA star Mix Diskerud goes up against Tomas Rosicky of the Czech Republic during the friendly clash in Prague.
Team USA star Mix Diskerud goes up against Tomas Rosicky of the Czech Republic during the friendly clash in Prague.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Team USA defeats Czech Republic 1-0 in Prague
  • Alejandro Bedoya scores only goal of the game
  • Coach Jurgen Klinsmann targets World Cup semifinals
  • World champion Germany beaten 4-2 by Argentina

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(CNN) -- Look out Russia -- Team USA is coming.

The World Cup may be four years away but coach Jurgen Klinsmann is already planning his team's path to the semifinals.

A painful defeat in the last-16 by Belgium in Brazil might have ended the U.S. dream but it has only served to further Klinsmann's ambitions.

A 1-0 friendly win over the Czech Republic in Prague courtesy of Alejandro Bedoya's strike gave Team USA a winning return to action but Klinsmann is already looking into the future.

"It was possible to get into the quarterfinal, Klinsmann told NBC.

"It was even possible to get into the semifinal in Brazil for us which nobody would probably believed. But this is how I looked at it.

"And this is our goal going toward Russia -- not to stop at the Round of 16 and not to stop at the quarterfinals.

"To say clearly we have four years to prepare this cycle and our goal is to go into a semifinal in a World Cup and that means a lot of work, a lot of competition and a lot of grind."

The achievements of Klinsmann's men at the World Cup has increased expectation and justifiably so.

This U.S. team is a side which commands respect given its quality and improvement over the past couple of years.

Deprived of goalkeeper Tim Howard, who has taken a year-long sabbatical from the national side to spend more time with his family, Aston Villa's Brad Guzan was given the opportunity to shine.

It's a difficult job for Guzan given the hero status Howard acquired following the team's performances in Brazil.

So impressive was Howard that he became a national celebrity with President Obama calling him directly from the White House to offer his congratulations following the 2-1 defeat by Belgium.

Howard, boasting one of the most exquisite beards in football, pulled off a record 16 saves against the Belgians leading to Obama even joking he should make the goalkeeper the nation's Secretary of Defense.

But with Howard absent along with Clint Dempsey, the man known as 'Captain America' during the tournament, Klinsmann gave a chance to a number of other players.

In a first half which meandered without much drama, it was the home side which should have taken the lead just after the half hour mark.

A rapid counter attack ripped through the U.S. midfield and Tomas Rosicky crossed to the far post only for Vladimir Darida to slide his effort wide of the far post.

That miss was to prove costly as just before the interval, the visiting team stuck the first blow.

A dreadful error by Darida allowed Mix Diskerud to run through on goal and when his effort was saved, Bedoya netted the rebound.

Klinsmann made a couple of changes at the break with Nick Rimando, the only MLS-based player in the squad, replacing Guzan in goal and Bolton's Tim Ream coming into defense.

But it hardly appeared to disrupt the rhythm of the team with Bedoya bringing a fine save out of Petr Cech in the Czech Republic goal.

The Czechs, which failed to qualify for the World Cup, have set their sights on qualifying for the 2016 European Championship Finals in France.

It faces a difficult task after being paired with the Netherlands and Turkey as well as Latvia, Iceland and Kazakhstan.

It did at least threaten an equalizer in the second half with Rimando producing a fine save to deny Ladislav Krejčí from close-range.

The Salt Lake City stopper than kept out David Limbersky's effort as the home side began to take control of the contest.

With Team USA now boasting a more youthful look following the introductions of 18-year-old Emerson Hyndman and Club Tijuana teenager Greg Garza, the Czechs stepped up its game.

Daniel Pudil was next to go close after latching onto a poor defensive header but Rimando stood firm to keep his side in front and secure the victory.

Team USA faces games against Honduras and Ecuador next month before taking on the Republic of Ireland in Dublin in November.

World champion

Germany returned to play its first fixture on home soil since winning the World Cup -- but it didn't exactly go to plan as it lost for the first time in 15 months.

Joachim Low's team was beaten 4-2 by Argentina just 52 days after the teams met in the final at the Maracana Stadium.

On that occasion, Mario Gotze scored the only goal of the game in extra-time after the contest had finished goalless after 90 minutes.

This time around, Argentina, without its talisman Lionel Messi, was led by Manchester United winger Angel di Maria.

The former Real Madrid player, who arrived at Old Trafford last week in a deal worth $98.7 million, set up three goals and scored one himself.

Sergio Aguero and Erik Lamela both converted chances provided by di Maria before halftime to give the visitors a two-goal lead.

And Argentina continued its assault after the interval, adding two more inside the opening five minutes with Federico Fernandez heading home a di Maria free kick before the United star added a fourth.

Germany, without a number of players who helped the team win the World Cup following a number of retirements, hit back with Andre Schurrle and Gotze scoring consolation goals.

New era?

England's new era got off to a winning start following a 1-0 victory over Norway in London.

In front of one of the lowest crowds to attend an England international game at Wembley stadium since it was reopened in 2007, Wayne Rooney's second half penalty was enough to see off the visitors.

Elsewhere, Russia recorded a 4-0 win over Azerbaijan, Ukraine defeated Latvia 1-0 and Turkey picked a 2-1 win in Denmark.

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