Skip to content

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

May 28, 2012, 9:35 AM EDT

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. Jozy Altidore is the happiest he’s ever been, says Gus Poyet

    Aug 20, 2014, 10:20 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Sunderland manager Gus Poyet believes United States striker Jozy Altidore is the happiest he has ever seen him.

  2. Malky Mackay and Iain Moody investigated by FA for ‘sexist, racist and homophobic’ text messages while at Cardiff City

    Aug 20, 2014, 9:11 PM EDT

    Aston Villa v Cardiff City - Premier League Getty Images

    Malky Mackay has been reported to the Football Association for being involved in a series of racist, sexist and homophobic text messages.

  3. WATCH: Kid asks Jamie Carragher if he was ever bitten by Luis Suarez

    Aug 20, 2014, 8:35 PM EDT

    Jamie Carragher AP

    If Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher showed up to your training to sign autographs, what would you ask him?

  4. Mikel Arteta out at least two weeks with sprained ankle, will miss Besiktas clash

    Aug 20, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT

    Should age matter when evaluating a player's contract extension? Getty Images

    Arteta’s status means that Jack Wilshere and Mathieu Flamini will be the holding midfield partnership against the Turks.

  5. UEFA Champions League Roundup: Porto and Zenit win, all others draw

    Aug 20, 2014, 7:25 PM EDT

    Hector Herrera

    Champions League play-offs continued on Wednesday with a series of tight contests headlined by a 1-0 victory for FC Porto at Lyon.

  6. Liverpool and AC Milan in talks over deal for Mario Balotelli

    Aug 20, 2014, 6:35 PM EDT

    Italy Training Session & Press Conference Getty Images

    Could Mario Balotelli be Liverpool’s answer to replace Luis Suarez?

  7. Vincent Tan ruins Malky Mackay’s chance of landing the Crystal Palace job

    Aug 20, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT

    Cardiff City v Charlton Athletic - npower Championship Getty Images

    Malky Mackay can’t escape Vincent Tan after Cardiff owner files report with FA that prompts Palace to withdraw managerial offer.

  8. Cristiano Ronaldo questionable for Super Cup second leg with back injury

    Aug 20, 2014, 5:40 PM EDT

    Cristiano Ronaldo AP

    Will Cristiano Ronaldo’s back injury prevent him from playing the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup?

  9. Report: Warrior Football to be re-branded as New Balance in 2015/16

    Aug 20, 2014, 4:55 PM EDT

    Warrior Shirt

    Liverpool fans can finally kiss goodbye that Warrior label but will that improve the designs?

  10. Preview: DC United, Montreal back in CONCACAF Champions League action

    Aug 20, 2014, 3:26 PM EDT

    Philadelphia Union v DC United - Disney Pro Soccer Classic Getty Images

    D.C. welcome Jamaican side Waterhouse to RFK, while Montreal head to El Salvador in CCL group stages.

  11. Marcus Rojo officially signs for Manchester United in $26.5 million deal

    Aug 20, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    Source: Manchester United Source: Manchester United

    Red Devils finally land their man as Argentine defender signs five-year deal.

  12. Manchester United to pay Nani’s $8 million wages, in full, during loan spell

    Aug 20, 2014, 2:35 PM EDT

    Manchester United's Nani is challenged by Chelsea's Lampard for the ball during their English FA Cup quarter-final soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester Reuters

    Nani is being paid his Manchester United wages in full… to play for Sporting Lisbon.

  13. Unsung hero: Luka Modric signs new four-year deal at Real Madrid

    Aug 20, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Before! Before!

    The diminutive Croatian midfielder will remain at Real after proving himself in the Spanish capital.

  14. Queens Park Rangers sign Dutch international Leroy Fer in $16 million deal

    Aug 20, 2014, 1:25 PM EDT

    Source: Queens Park Rangers Source: Queens Park Rangers

    Fer, 24, is back in the Premier League as QPR capture box-to-box midfielder.

  15. Atlanta’s new MLS franchise has already sold 14,000 season tickets

    Aug 20, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT

    Don Garber AP

    Set to arrive in MLS in 2017, the league’s newest franchise has already sold a staggering number of season tickets.

  16. No Turkish delight for Arsenal: Ramsey sent off, Arteta injured, Wenger fumes

    Aug 20, 2014, 11:49 AM EDT

    Arsene Wenger, Slaven Bilic AP

    Wenger: “It’s very difficult to understand but, in the second half, the performance of the referee was very bad.”

  17. Thomas Muller reveals he rejected “astronomical” offer from Manchester United

    Aug 20, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C1-MAN CITY-BAYERN MUNICH Getty Images

    Muller: “The amount that foreign clubs were offering me was astronomical. But Bayern are my club.”

  18. Swansea City sign Argentine defender Federico Fernandez

    Aug 20, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT

    Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina: Group F - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Getty Images

    Fernandez arrives from Napoli as Swans sign Argentine center back.

Featured video

Top five PL goals, Week 1