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.
United States vs. Scotland
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)