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Which Americans saw their stock go up and which saw their stock go down in the United States' 5-1 win over Scotland?
It took just three minutes for Landon Donovan to score and that should have been a sign of what the evening was going to be like in Jacksonville, Florida. The United States dominated the Scots from the very beginning, and by the time the final whistle went, Donovan had himself a hat trick and the U.S. had themselves a 5-1 win.
Donovan struck first when he was able to jump on his own rebound and finish smartly with a high shot that eluded two Scotland defenders on the line. The U.S. did well to break down Scotland with some pretty passing and the play came from the left to Donovan on the right, leaving the Scotland defense flummoxed. Donovan was then in alone on goal, but despite getting his first shot saved, he stuck with it and buried his second attempt for an early U.S. lead.
Not long after, Michael Bradley doubled the Americans' lead with a goal that will be all over highlight reels on Saturday. Jermaine Jones laid a cross back for Bradley, but it was one that bounced high. Bradley never hesitated to shoot, though, ripping a volley from more than 20 yards out that was laser guided into the top corner for a great goal that made it a 2-0 match.
The U.S. actually scored all six goals in the match, only one was in the wrong goal. The Americans' defense failed them as Kenny Miller got free at the back post and was unmarked on a cross. His header was directed back across the face of goal, but it never made it back there because it bounced off of Geoff Cameron's chest and in for what would be Scotland's only goal.
The 2-1 scoreline held into halftime, but it wasn't for lack of effort on the U.S.'s part. They flew forward at every opportunity and managed to create some chances even without Clint Dempsey. The midfield duo of Bradley and Jones were absolutely sensational and opened things up for the U.S. time and time again.
The great play of Bradley and Jones paid off in the second half as the U.S. blew Scotland out of the water. Donovan scored his second just before the hour mark as he took a great feed from Jones, then right after he made it a hat trick as Bradley fed him for another simple finish. With Jones and Bradley creating and Donovan finishing, the U.S. looked like a finely tuned machine.
Donovan already had three goals of his own so he didn't need another. When he got the ball in a great U.S. counterattack, he passed on having a go at goal and instead chipped for Jones in the middle. Jones made no mistake with his chance, burying his header and putting the U.S. up 5-1.
While beating Italy in February will get more headlines and looks sexier, the U.S. barely held on there and had to play very defensive. Jurgen Klinsmann has been working on implementing an attacking style since taking over the team last year, and against Scotland it was on full display. There is no doubt that Saturday night was the best the U.S. has looked under Klinsmann. In fact, they couldn't have looked too much better, which is great for the Americans as they prepare for World Cup qualifying next month.
The United States has been excellent in possession, but that doesn't mean they can't strike quickly on the counterattack either. Then again, it doesn't look like there is anything they can't do right now. This time it was Jermaine Jones' chance to chip in, scoring on the end of a fine counterattack to put the U.S. up 5-1 on Scotland. This one has gotten ugly.
As soon as they took the ball from Scotland they were off in the other direction, moving the ball quickly and eventually getting the ball to Landon Donovan on the right. He already has three goals to his name so he doesn't need another. Instead, he chipped for Jones, whose header found the net and left Scotland with nothing to do except stare at the scoreboard in disbelief.
The type of variety with which the U.S. has scored has to put a smile on the face of Jurgen Klinsmann. They have scored coming out of slow possession, on the counterattack, with their feet, with their head, with crosses and with incredible long strikes. They have done it all.
You can't stop Landon Donovan. Well, maybe you can, but Scotland sure can't. The American star has notched his third goal of the match against Scotland to put the United States up 4-1 and the rout is on.
Donovan gets the credit for the goal and the hat trick, as he should, but his goals have come on the end of some really fine team play by the U.S., especially in the midfield. His third goal came thanks to Michael Bradley, who despite being pressured from behind, played a great ball into Donovan that put him in alone on goal. From there it was all about simple finishing and the U.S. had themselves a three-goal lead.
Donovan's nine-month absence from the national team had many U.S. fans upset, and it put Jurgen Klinsmann in a bit of a hole, but both the fans and Klinsmann will forgive him if he keeps playing like this. All is well in America right now.
They love us, they really love us. That's what the United States has to be thinking after 44,428 fans showed up to see them play Scotland at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday night. The fans set a new record for a U.S. match in the state of Florida. Those who showed up were treated to a show, too, as Landon Donovan scored a hat trick in the newly-striped kits and the Americans routed Scotland.
Big crowds for United States soccer friendlies aren't too rare. The Americans often play matches in big football stadiums and draw a ton of people, but it's often fans of the opposing team filling the stands. That wasn't the case this time around, though, as most of the crowd was made up of Americans cheering for the U.S. Waldos or Gondoliers, your choice.
The U.S. fans come in all shapes and sizes. Some also come (likely) without significant others, like this fella.
After taking nine months off from the national team, Landon Donovan knew he had to make up for lost time and that is exactly what he is doing. He got the United States off to a perfect start with a goal three minutes into their match against Scotland and now has a second goal that has the Americans up 3-1.
After a wild first 15 minutes in Jacksonville, the United States and Scotland settled down into a more normal, but less fun final 30 minutes of the first half, which the Americans were fine with because they led 2-1. Landon Donovan scored early on and Michael Bradley scored a second, but Geoff Cameron put the ball in his own net to draw Scotland within one and all in the first 15 minutes.
It took just three minutes for the U.S. to go in front as Donovan got off to a flying start in his return to the national team. A good move by the Americans unhinged the Scotland defense and put Donovan in on goal, but his first shot was saved as the goalkeeper did well to get off his line and cut off the angle. That wasn't a problem for Donovan, who hopped on the rebound and finished smartly to put the U.S. on top.
Not long after, Bradley doubled the U.S. with a brilliant volley. A cross from the right found Jermaine Jones, who laid the ball off for Bradley. The lay off bounced high, but Bradley didn't care, ripping a volley from more than 20 yards into the upper corner for a tremendous goal.
Up 2-0, it looked like the U.S. would cruise, but that wasn't going to happen. The American defense, which has been a problem for almost two years now, failed to track Kenny Miller on a cross so he ended up unmarked at the back post. He tried to head the ball back across goal, but instead it hit Geoff Cameron in the chest and went into the net for an own goal.
After the crazy first 15 minutes, things settled down, but the U.S. will still be happy with how they played. They controlled possession so that shaky defense couldn't be tested too often and while they didn't create a ton of chances, they showed more inventiveness than they have in the past to come close to creating chances. They did well to create with and attempted some creative runs and balls that almost paid off. No more goals came their way, but they did still lead 2-1 at half and had the clear upper hand in the first 45 mintes.
Okay, it's not all perfect for the United States anymore. After Landon Donovan scored just three minutes in and Michael Bradley added a sublime goal not long after, it looked like the U.S. might just cruise to victory. Wrong. The U.S. defense got lost, Kenny Miller got free and then the Scot's header bounced off of Geoff Cameron's chest and into the goal. Now the U.S. only leads 2-1 and the Americans have their feet back on the ground.
Forget the U.S. being unlucky and having the ball bounce off of Cameron and into the goal. The problem was before that, where the U.S. failed to communicate, mark and Miller got free. There was one Scotland player offside, but he was not involved in the play and the flag correctly stayed down.
For the U.S., a lack of cohesion at the back isn't new. They have had problems defending for a while now, before Jurgen Klinsmann took over. If they can't shore things up at the back, they are going to continue to have trouble.
Holy Michael Bradley. The United States were already feeling good after Landon Donovan scored three minutes in to give them a 1-0 lead on Scotland, but Bradley put them on a whole other level. The Chievo midfielder hit an absolute peach of a volley into the upper corner and before some fans could even find their seats in Jacksonville, the U.S. has themselves a 2-0 lead.
It was more good play from the U.S. to get that goal as they worked the ball around and then Jermaine Jones laid it off fro Bradley. It wasn't the best of lay offs as it bounced up on Bradley, but clearly Bradley didn't care. He hit the piss out of that one and now has a signature play for his highlight reel. Bonus points to Jurgen Klinsmann for his always exciting celebrations.
Landon Donovan went nine months without playing for the United States as injuries and other reasons kept him away from the team. Finally today, the Americans' all-time is back with the national team and it took him just three minutes to make his presence fault as he scored to put the U.S. up 1-0 on Scotland.
The goal came at the end of a good move for the U.S. Eventually, Donovan was in on goal, but he had to shoot quickly because the goalkeeper was rushing out on him. The keeper saved the first shot, but Donovan got to the rebound and was able to finish his second chance despite two Scots on the line that made things tough.
Jurgen Klinsmann is going to be thrilled with the goal as it came at the end of the type of good midfield play that he's been trying to build. Early on, it's looking good for the U.S.
The first of three United States men's national team friendlies before a set of two World Cup qualifiers gets underway in Florida on Saturday night. Even though he's without a couple of players who are recovering from slight injuries -- Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey -- Jurgen Klinsmann will get an opportunity to look at close to his first team against Scotland. The lineup he's selected is an odd one and it'll be interesting to see how it looks in practice. Klinsmann was always going to have to play someone out of position with the team's lack of wide players and Dempsey, but he's taken this to extremes with his lineup. Four true central midfield players are in the first XI.
United States lineup (4-3-2-1): Howard; Johnson, Bocanegra, Cameron, Cherundolo; Jones, Edu, Bradley; Torres, Donovan; Boyd
Scotland lineup (4-3-3): McGregor; Bardsley, Caldwell, Webster, Mulgrew; Brown, McArthur, Bannan; Phillips, Miller, Maloney
Kickoff is at 8:00 p.m. ET from EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. You can catch the game on either NBC Sports Network or Galavision in the United States.
Here we go, the beginning of the "five game tournament", as coined by Jurgen Klinsmann. The United States will play three friendlies and two World Cup qualifiers between today and June 12. By the end of it we will know more about Klinsmann's squad than ever before.
All of this gets underway in Jacksonville, where the U.S. will host a Scotland team that will have the summer off after failing to qualify for Euro 2012. Grouped with Spain, Scotland was never going to win their Euro 2012 qualifying group, but they had hopes of finishing in second place and getting into the tournament via the two-legged playoff. Unfortunately for them, they finished two points behind the Czech Republic for second place and their dreams of qualifying for their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup continues.
Nobody is going to confuse Scotland with Spain or Germany, but they are not complete pushovers. They failed to score in only one of their Euro qualifying matches, their first one, so they have some firepower. Of course, that they are without Charlie Adam, Steven Fletcher and Jamie Mackie, who are all out for various reasons, will cut into that firepower.
With the trio of absentees, Scotland is going to lack something in the attack. That is a chance for the U.S. to take advantage, but doing so will require for activity and inventive play than they have shown in recent matches. They should have possession, but against a defensive Scotland team likely to defend in numbers, the Americans will need to get width and show some creativity. Worst of all for the U.S., they have have to do all of this without Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, both of whom will miss the match.
It's time to get this "five game tournament" underway. That means no excuses. Klinsmann's squad is about to be put to the test.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Venue: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Florida
TV: NBC Sports Network (USA English), Galavision (USA Spanish), ESPN UK (Great Britain)
When Jurgen Klinsmann took over as United States manager, he took players' names off the back of jerseys and took away the players' traditional numbers. This was to make players play for the crest over the heart instead of the name on the back and not have a pecking order determined by number. Cheesy? Yes, but Klinsmann was trying to make a statement.
The days of nameless jerseys and unfamiliar numbers are over, though. Beginning against Scotland, the U.S. will be wearing names on the back of jerseys and the 23 players who will be with the team for the three friendlies and two World Cup qualifiers in May and June have been assigned numbers that they will keep through the June 12 World Cup qualifier. Carlos Bocanegra is back in the number three, Clint Dempsey has his number eight and Landon Donovan is in 10. Ah, familiarity.
U.S. Roster With Jersey Numbers
1-Howard, 2-Parkhurst, 3-Bocanegra, 4-Bradley, 5-Onyewu, 6-Cherundolo, 7-Edu, 8-Dempsey, 9-Gomez, 10-Donovan, 11-Corona, 12-Guzan, 13-Jones, 14-Beckerman, 15-Castillo, 16-Torres, 17-Altidore, 18-Boyd, 19-Wondolowski, 20-Cameron, 21-Goodson, 22-Rimando, 23-Johnson.
Jurgen Klinsmann's hiring as United States manager was met with great excitement. After five years of being tempted by the possibility of his being hired, U.S. fans finally had the man they wanted and expectations were through the roof.
Things did not go as planned early in the Klinsmann era. A draw against an understrength Mexico wasn't too bad, even if they got outplayed, but then came losses to Costa Rica and Belgium. A draw against Honduras raised hopes again, but then the U.S. followed that up with losses to Ecuador and France. The Klinsmann era was a bonafide failure, or not. As Klinsmann continued to remind people, it was "a process" and results in friendlies were insignificant. It was all about building for World Cup qualifiers.
The U.S. closed out 2011 with a 3-2 win over Slovenia so then they could at least start 2012 trending up. With none of their European based players with the team, the Americans beat similarly understrength Venezuela and Panama. Finally came the big match, at Italy in a stadium that the Azzuri were seemingly invincible. Clint Dempsey struck for a goal and the defense held out, giving the U.S. a 1-0 win over the Italians, their first statement match under Klinsmann.
Here the U.S. is, winners of four straight, but if the losses were insignificant then the wins are too, right? Not quite. Nobody is going to call friendly wins a big deal, but confidence means something and right now the Americans are riding high. With just three friendlies separating the U.S. from the start of World Cup qualifying, some major momentum wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
Quick, when was the last time that the United States had a quality left back? Having trouble finding an answer? Exactly.
It's the question that the U.S. cannot answer. Through wins and losses, World Cups, friendlies and manager after manager, there is one constant for the U.S. -- the team has no left back.
The U.S. has tried just about everyone it could at the position. It has tried converting midfielders like John O'Brien and Eddie Lewis. It has tried putting right-sided players like Frankie Hejduk and Timothy Chandler at the position. It has tried players who are not international quality like Jonathan Bornstein and Heath Pearce.
Everyone the U.S. has tried at left back has failed, so it is time for some new blood -- or at least newish blood -- in Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo. Both have had brief run outs for the U.S. before at both left back and in the midfield, but now it is down to those two, and the winner gets the starting spot for the Americans in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. The battle is on.
For Johnson, the question is whether he is better at left back or in the midfield and how positionally aware he is. For most of his professional career, he was a midfielder, but he spent the latter half of the season with Hoffenheim at left back, and it went well. Still, he has not played much there, so inexperience could be a problem.
Castillo has been a left back for his entire career, but that hasn't made him the most positionally aware or really much of a defender at all. After several years of awful play for both club and country, Castillo played tremendously for the last nine months for Club Tijuana. He did so as a wingback above a three-man back line, though, not as a left back, so his defensive skills were not really tested. They will be now that he is back with the U.S.
More than a decade later, the U.S. is still without a left back. Could Castillo or Johnson be the answer?
The United States will be without Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore when they take on Scotland on Saturday. Jurgen Klinsmann announced on Friday that Dempsey would miss the match with a slight groin injury and that Altidore would miss because he just recently returned from the Netherlands.
The absence of Dempsey means that Klinsmann and U.S. fans will have to wait even longer to see Dempsey and Donovan play together under the German manager. Since Klinsmann took over the team last August, the two American stars have not been on the same team, with one of the two missing each match through injury or a need to rest. Additionally, almost the entire U.S. attack under Klinsmann has been through Dempsey, meaning the Americans will have to find a new way to create chances against Scotland.
Altidore's absence will provide a chance for one of the team's other strikers to step up. There is no doubt that Altidore is the Americans' first choice striker, but there is a big hole behind him. Whether it is Chris Wondolowski, Herculez Gomez or Terrence Boyd, the U.S. needs one of the two to step up and provide competent backup to Altidore and Saturday will be an opportunity for one to show they can do it.
There were no big surprises as Jurgen Klinsmann announced the final 23-man roster for the United States' upcoming five-game stretch that will include three friendlies and the first two 2014 World Cup qualifying games. MLS players Juan Agudelo and Graham Zusi and Germany-based Danny Williams and Alfredo Morales failed to make the final roster.
"We have said from the beginning that these games are all about results, and we have chosen the 23 players who are in the best form right now and ready to get the job done," Klinsmann said in a statement. "These guys have put in a tremendous amount of hard work in the last 10 days, and they are hungry to get started with the matches. We want to thank the players who have gone back to their clubs for all of their effort here. They are knocking on the door and will be ready to go if needed."
The final roster includes five players from MLS, four players from the German Bundesliga, four from the Mexican Primera and three from the English Premier League.
This will be the team from which Klinsmann will select his 18-man gameday rosters for friendlies against Scotland (May 26), Brazil (May 30) and Canada (June 3), as well as World Cup qualifiers against Antigua and Barbuda (June 8) and Guatemala (June 12).
DEFENDERS (7): Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Jose Torres (Pachuca)
Jurgen Klinsmann still has to figure out a formation, some roles, how to integrate Landon Donovan and, most of all, how to turn possession into chances with World Cup qualifying around the corner.
The U.S. has three friendlies to get everything together before beginning World Cup qualifying, so what are their last remaining concerns heading into the three matches?
The U.S. hosts Scotland on Saturday in a friendly, but with World Cup qualifying creeping up, it's the first in a five-match month that really matters.
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