U.S., Scotland are equally lackluster in 0-0 draw.
By Robert Wagman
(Friday, November15, 2013) -- The United States men did not display much enthusiasm in tonight’s friendly, but neither did host Scotland, playing to a 1-1 draw in front of 21,079 at Glasgow’s half-filled Hampden Park.
The U.S. managed just two shots on goal to one by Scotland.
Going into the match, it seemed the both teams, or at least players on both sides, had quite a bit at stake. A number of Americans are trying to prove to coach Jürgen Klinsmann they deserve a place on the squad going to next year’s World Cup in Brazil, while a number of the Scots apparently have to prove to their coach, Gordon Strachan, they should be in the mix for the 2016 European Championships.
If that’s the case, few players made much of a case for themselves. Both sides had an occasional opportunity near the opposing goal, but there was no one who could be proud of his finishing.
After an opening 45 minutes when neither team did much of note -- the U.S.’s one shot sailed well wide -- the Americans started the second half showing a bit more effort and created some early chances. By the hour mark, however, they had drifted back into sleepwalking mode and play was largely confined to the midfield.
Substitute striker Aron Johansson and midfielder Brek Shea gave the U.S. something of a spark after entering late. In the 83rd, when forward Jozy Altidore settled the ball in front of Scotland’s net, Johansson swept in from the left, forcing goalkeeper David Marshall into a diving save. Three minutes later, Shea moved quickly down the left side and fed Johansson for a shot that went narrowly wide.
Keeper Tim Howard provided the other U.S. highlight in the 53rd minute, leaping high to his left to push a free kick from Robert Snodgrass over the crossbar from near the right post. Howard posted his 34th career shutout.
Klinsmann had hoped to employ the strongest possible team against Scotland, but events intervened.
Not called in for this match or Tuesday’s match against Austria in Vienna, because of injury or fitness issues were midfielder Landon Donovan, defenders Edgar Castillo and Clarence Goodson, and backup keeper Brad Guzan.
Klinsmann also chose not to call in any player whose team is currently in Major League Soccer’s playoff semifinals. That eliminated FC Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi and defender Matt Besler, Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman and Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis.
Striker Clint Dempsey strained his right calf in training and was scratched, as was midfielder Fabian Johnson, who was sent home after injuring his right ankle.
Klinsmann had certainly hoped for more out of his squad tonight. The players get their last chance to impress him this year Tuesday in Austria.
U.S. Player Ratings
Goalkeeper Tim Howard - 7: He was not asked to do much, but he made one acrobatic save to claim another clean sheet.
Defender DaMarcus Beasley - 5.5: He was among the few U.S. players who seemed to devote much energy into the game. He defended well and managed to get forward from time to time.
Defender Omar Gonzalez - 5: His strength is clearly balls in the air. He is too often pulled out of position and depends on others to cover for him. He did get into the attack on several occasions.
Defender Geoff Cameron - 5.5: He did fine in a position at which he does not seem very comfortable in. He is a stronger outside defender, but shows he can play in the middle when called on.
Defender Brad Evans - 5.5: He stays home and tends to his defensive role. He is not able, or inclined, to go forward very often.
Midfielder Michael Bradley - 6: In his first national-team appearance since an injury, he was comfortable in a defensive role, but did not link up well with those in front of him. It seemed more his teammates fault than his.
Midfielder Jermaine Jones - 5: He started our strongly, but seemed to tire quickly. He was ready to come out on the hour.
Midfielder Sacha Kljestan - 4.5: He was called on to play the key central midfield role and was not very impressive.
Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya - 5.5: He had a few good moments in an otherwise unremarkable appearance..
Forward Eddie Johnson - 5: In a match where a positive impression would have helped him, he had little impact.
Forward Jozy Altidore - 5.5: He put himself in position to do some damage, but shot high or wide each time.
Midfielder Brek Shea (63rd minute for Johnson) - 6: He came in and was aggressive, which stood out in this colorless match. He did not accomplish of a result for his effort.
Forward Aron Johannsson (62nd minute for Kljestan) 6.5: He was the best U.S. player over the final half hour. He could have done better with his two good chances.
Midfielder Mix Diskerud (62nd minute for Jones) - 5.5: He seemed content to merge in with Bradley and was fine against a tiring opponent.
Defender Eric Lichaj (72nd minute for Evans) -- 5.5: He was not put under much pressure, but was defensively solid.
Forward Chris Wondolowski (81st minute for Bedoya) 4.5: He had no impact in a brief appearance.
Forward Terrence Boyd (90th minute for Altidore) – no rating: The last-minute sub had no time to show anything.
SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Tim Howard.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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