Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ten Observations on USA vs Scotland

In case you missed it last night, the U.S. Men's National Team put together arguably their most impressive win in recent memory as they thrashed a decent Scottish side 5-1 behind a hat trick from Landon Donovan. The U.S. got after the Scots early, and despite letting them back into the game with an own goal they never crumbled and cruised to a comfortable victory. Here's ten observations I have from last night's match:

1) For someone who is questioning his desire to continue to play soccer at a high level, Landon Donovan showed he still has plenty left in the tank. Captain America scored three times, his first hat trick for the U.S. since he scored a triple against Ecuador in a 2007 friendly, hit the post once, and assisted on Jermaine Jones' header to cap off just a ridiculous night. As I commented to my buddy last night, I cannot wait to see Donovan and Clint Dempsey on the pitch at the same time.

2) Speaking of Dempsey, the U.S. managed to score 5 goals without Deuce and without Jozy Altidore. That is a great sign for a team that for a while last year couldn't seem to buy a goal. Now you figure once Altidore gets back that he'll take Terrence Boyd's spot up top, but who's the odd man out when Dempsey returns? Maurice Edu? Jones? Jose Torres? It's a tough call, but that's a good problem for Coach Klinsmann to have.

3) Jermaine Jones (1 goal, 2 assists) needs a nickname because obviously he's here to stay. I'm thinking something like Wreckless Jones since he's almost always good for a card-worthy foul or two. Or Germany Jones since he was born in Frankfurt, and Germany and Jermaine kind of sound the same. Either way, another solid performance for the Schalke 04 midfielder.

4) Playing in Italy has done wonders for Michael Bradley's game. Is there anyone out there who still thinks that he only had a spot on the team because his dad was the coach? And his goal was absolutely ridiculous. If you haven't seen it yet, you need to watch:

5) I really like what Jose Torres brings to the table. His combination of footwork and his passing ability are reminiscent of the days when we had Claudio Reyna running the show. Between him and Bradley, the U.S. really seemed to dominate possession last night which is something we don't normally see. Now it just remains to be seen where Torres fits into things once Dempsey and Altidore return to the lineup. Still, you'd be hard pressed to say that Torres doesn't at least figure to be in the rotation.

6) Geoff Cameron is horribly unlucky. In his last two games for the U.S., Cameron has been red carded and scored an own goal. Still, it was good to see him bounce back from the miscue against Scotland and turn in a decent shift. It will be interesting to see who partners up with Bocanegra (Cameron, Onyewu, Goodson, Parkhurst) when the games start counting.

7) Fabian Johnson may be the solution at left back for the United States. Although he wasn't really tested last night by the Scottish attack, his ability to run the wing is something Jurgen Klinsmann likes and he's one of the few players in the U.S. pool that actually look comfortable on that side of the field.

8) Joe Corona made his U.S. Senior National Team debut in the second half coming on as a substitute for Torres. Personally I would've liked to see Wondo get into the game, but I can't really argue with the decision to get the 21 year old some minutes. It's important to remember that these matches are both to get the players used to playing together and for Klinsmann to evaluate what he's got, and in that regard, it's important for him to get players like Boyd and Corona (virtual unknowns) playing time so he can see if they're ready for big time competition.

9) The U.S. has now won five straight matches, the most they've won consecutively since 2008 when they won six in a row. The difference is that those wins came against the likes of Barbados (2), Guatemala, Cuba (2) and Trinidad & Tobago. This stretch includes wins over Slovenia, Italy and Scotland.

10) The U.S. has still yet to concede a goal scored directly by an opponent this year as Geoff Cameron is the only player to put a ball into the U.S. net in the last four matches. With all of the questions surrounding the U.S. back line, this is really a pretty impressive feat. That said, I'd still like to see the defense play a little bit better. It's my feeling that it's not so much great play from the defense that's caused this run, but solid goalkeeping and missed opportunities from the opposition. That said, if we continue to score 5 goals a game, it probably won't matter how well we defend.

The U.S. will look to make it six wins in a row on Wednesday when they host Brazil at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Kickoff is set for 8 pm Eastern time and the game will be televised on ESPN2.


  1. Couldn't agree more about Klinsmann's predicament in #2. That's a luxury for once. What about the age on the back line? Both Bocanegra and Cherundolo are 33, and although I absolutely love Cherundolo's tenacity on the pitch, they'll both be 35 come time to head to Brazil. I'm surprised we didn't see Eric Lichaj on the roster, especially after his impressive performance during the 2011 Gold Cup.

  2. And I was not a big fan of Michael Bradley during the 2009 Confederations Cup, but in my mind he was without a doubt the best performer for the U.S. during the 2010 World Cup. I've been sold ever since.

  3. German..German ..Jermaine! Jermaine Jackson! Jackson Five! TITO

  4. @Jimmy - Agree that age on defense is certainly a concern for the U.S. I think if Lichaj hadn't been hurt most of the EPL season, he would've at least made the preliminary 27-man roster, but instead you've got Klinsmann favorites Fabian Johnson (24) and Edgar Castillo (25). Don't forget that Timmy Chandler (22) is still in the mix as well assuming he doesn't opt to play for Germany instead.

    @Smitty - Brian, what're you talking about? I dunno, I dunno really.