Skip to content

Why Saturday’s U.S. national team win matters

May 28, 2012, 9:35 AM EST

Scotland v United States Getty Images

A bit of a Sunday hangover developed yesterday regarding the U.S. national team, which had shellacked Scotland in a Saturday night Florida frolic, 5-1.

So Saturday brought euphoria over the accomplishment. The United States doesn’t beat European teams this way, after all. Yes, a team led previously by Bob Bradley or Bruce Arena might open a can of U.S. might on Cuba or some other economy car on the CONCACAF highway, but a four-goal win over Scotland? That’s one to Facebook about!

Then came Sunday. I got a few Twitter messages and blog comments that were all along the same theme: tap the brakes, ye media mavens, for Scotland is a poor, poor side at the moment. Saturday’s win doesn’t mean so much.

Only, I’m not buying it. The naysayers and buzz killers don’t get it.

It wasn’t the score; it was the manner in which it was achieved, stylistic, tenacious of pressure and perfectly representative of the plan manager Jurgen Klinsmann hatched nine months ago. (And Scotland, weakened no doubt, is a squad just the same of proud pros from quality European leagues.)

We all see contests where the score doesn’t accurately reflect the match’s true colors, where things just kind of get wackily out of hand at the end. This wasn’t one of them. The United States dominated front to back against a Scottish side that was never allowed to locate a groove in the steamy Florida night.

But again, it wasn’t just the margin. It was the U.S. flourish and the new way of playing that has everyone toasting Uncle Soccer Sam and rushing to laptops to order up another U.S. scarf or T-shirt.

This was a night where U.S. fans saw Klinsmann’s devilish plan come to beautiful fruition. He has preached of how best to get after opposition: he wants players stationed further up the field; greater tactical aggression from a less rigid arrangement, more pressure applied on offense and defense, a ploy that demands high confidence and higher degrees of fitness.

He’s been gradually building the elements, and Saturday it coalesced impressively.

By the way, the best two U.S. forwards of the moment, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, weren’t even on the field. So how ‘bout them apples?

Yes, this Scotland was a poor version of itself. But players and managers had promised a typically spirited effort, if nothing else. Only, that didn’t matter. Spirit only gets you so far against a confident bunch that’s committed to a high-pressure methodology.

It doesn’t mean that the United States can go do the same to Spain or Germany or Argentina. Or Brazil, for that matter, as we might see Wednesday. But it does say this: The new way gives Klinsmann’s side the ability to dominate regional sides the way fans have long wished they could. And they won’t need to sit back and take it, hoping to bang something in on the counter against the global bully boys.

The new way just “looks” more American, more assertive – and no one needs to apologize for feeling good about it.

Latest Posts
  1. 2015 MLS season preview: Toronto FC

    Mar 3, 2015, 5:17 PM EST

    Toronto FC logo

    This should be the year TFC breaks its MLS playoffs’ duck. But nothing’s ever certain in Toronto.

  2. Aston Villa 2-1 West Bromwich Albion: Late drama hands Sherwood first win

    Mar 3, 2015, 4:54 PM EST

    Aston Villa v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    Villa net late win after PK drama, move out of relegation zone.

  3. Southampton 1-0 Crystal Palace: Mane’s late goal gets Saints back on track

    Mar 3, 2015, 4:45 PM EST

    Southampton v Crystal Palace - Premier League Getty Images

    Relief for Southampton, as Mane’s goal seals crucial win to keep top four hopes alive.

  4. Hull City 1-1 Sunderland: Rodwell helps Black Cats steal a point

    Mar 3, 2015, 4:42 PM EST

    Hull City v Sunderland - Premier League Getty Images

    The Tigers stay a point ahead of Sunderland. Hull is in 15th place with 27 points.

  5. Referee in Cyprus reveals match-fixing amid accusations from South Africa

    Mar 3, 2015, 3:29 PM EST

    Panayi AP

    A referee in Cyprus has come clean, describing an incredibly deep-rooted problem of match-fixing in the country that makes us wonder how prevalent this problem really is.

  6. FA delays Mackay racism decision as Cardiff board boycotts Wigan trip

    Mar 3, 2015, 2:35 PM EST

    Mackay Getty Images

    The FA says the finding of “significant new information” has led them to extend the investigation.

  7. Watch Live: Hull City vs. Sunderland (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Mar 3, 2015, 2:09 PM EST

    Hull City v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    A massive relegation six-pointer between these two north east rivals. Watch live online, here.

  8. Watch Live: Aston Villa vs. West Bromwich Albion (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Mar 3, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Tim Sherwood New Aston Villa Manager Press Conference and Photo Call Tim Sherwood New Aston Villa Manager Press Conference and Photo Call

    Can Villa get their first win under Sherwood in this huge Midlands derby? Watch live online, right here.

  9. Watch Live: Southampton vs. Crystal Palace (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Mar 3, 2015, 1:50 PM EST

    Southampton v Crystal Palace - FA Cup Fourth Round Getty Images

    Can Saints get back to winning ways as old boss Pardew brings Palace to town? Watch live online, here.

  10. Update on MLS labor strike: Players Union, league at impasse as situation looks dire

    Mar 3, 2015, 1:33 PM EST

    Don_Garber

    With just over 72 hours to go until the MLS season kicks off, talks between the league and the Players Union still ongoing.

  11. 2015 MLS Season Preview: Houston Dynamo

    Mar 3, 2015, 1:08 PM EST

    Dynamo

    The Dynamo have a few new pieces and Owen Coyle is a trailblazer, but things still smell of the failures of last year, and this season looks to be a mountain for the Dynamo to climb.

  12. Report: Bob Bradley in the running for Aston Villa DOF job

    Mar 3, 2015, 12:05 PM EST

    Bradley Reuters

    Could the former USMNT head coach move into an executive role for the first time?

  13. 2015 MLS Season Preview: Top 10 Newcomers

    Mar 3, 2015, 11:36 AM EST

    Villa AP

    Which one of Major League Soccer’s new stars will make the biggest impact? There are plenty of familiar faces, but also a few new ones looking to make a name for themselves.

  14. Dave Whelan steps down as Wigan chair, “no plans” to sell club

    Mar 3, 2015, 10:19 AM EST

    Whelan Getty Images

    He will stay as owner and has appointed his 23-year-old grandson as his successor.

  15. 2015 MLS Season Preview: Philadelphia Union

    Mar 3, 2015, 9:16 AM EST

    Union

    It’s going to be a grind, but can the Union make the playoffs? They have the talent.

  16. Tuesday Premier League Preview: New managers square off in Midlands derby

    Mar 3, 2015, 8:09 AM EST

    Sherwood Getty Images

    Can Tim Sherwood pick up his first points with Aston Villa on the third try? Midweek Premier League action!

  17. Ronald Koeman expects Southampton to bounce back from another “difficult period”

    Mar 2, 2015, 11:16 PM EST

    Ronaldo Koeman, Southampton FC Getty Images

    It’s been a tough run for Southampton, but it’s not the first bump in the road this season.

  18. English FA, Kick It Out report 70% increase in reports of racist abuse

    Mar 2, 2015, 8:30 PM EST

    Reports of racist abuse are up 70 percent, which is actually a good thing, because it’s being reported more than ever before.