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United States, Scotland play out a 0-0 draw in Glasgow

Nov 15, 2013, 5:05 PM EDT

Aron Johannsson 2

A snoozer of a first half improved slightly after the half Friday in Scotland, but the United States and its European hosts still played out a scoreless draw in a friendly at Glasgow’s famed Hampden Park.

It was just the fourth scoreless draw for the World Cup-bound Americans in 26 months under manager Jurgen Klinsmann, and the team’s first since playing Mexico to a valuable 0-0 draw at Azteca Stadium in March.

Young U.S. forward Aron Johannsson (pictured), who came off the bench, had a couple of chances late for Klinsmann’s team, and Jozy Altidore got had a couple of near misses, too, as the visitors were the more dangerous team after the break.

Tim Howard was tested just once at the other end; the longtime United States No. 1 saved impressively on a well-placed Robert Snodgrass 53rd-minute free kick.

This was the first of two friendlies in Europe connected to this November FIFA fixture window; the United States travels east into Austria for a friendly Tuesday in Vienna. Neither Scotland nor Austria qualified of the World Cup, whereas the United States just advanced into its 7th consecutive finals tournament.

Scotland had more of the ball and most of the half-chances, which is about all either team could muster in an uneventful and slightly ragged opening period. Craig Conway scruffed his team’s best chance of the first half, shooting harmlessly wide after some good arrangement work from Steven Fletcher and Snodgrass.

At the other end, Sacha Kljestan arranged something for Altidore to create the best U.S. chance before intermission, but the luckless-of-late Sunderland man went well high from 17 yards with his side-winding volley.

The lack of punch in the U.S. attack probably wasn’t suprising considering the chief U.S. playmakers in the final third, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan, were out due to injury. So Kljestan had the keys to the offense, assigned to the role Dempsey or Donovan would typically occupy. Playing just ahead of Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley in Klinsmann’s preferred version of a 4-3-3, came out after 60 minutes having held his own, although no one would call it a game-changing performance.

Second half introductions of Brek Shea, Mix Diskerud and Johannsson put a little more pop in the U.S. attack; Klinsmann’s team had gained just 43 percent of possession prior to intermission.

Bradley was back into the U.S. lineup, as the linchpin midfielder – truly, the most important man to next year’s World Cup endeavor – got on the field for the first time since his freak injury just before a September World Cup qualifier.

  1. danielofthedale - Nov 15, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    Anyone else really like what they see when Aron and Jozy are on the field at the same time? He really helps Jozy out a lot with keeping the space between them not so big so that all the defenders can’t just focus on him.

    And Brek is far from a polished product and has many flaws, but I think he should be on the team to Brazil if healthy. He is just a great spark plug and can give you 15-30 of speed and attacking possibilities.

    • supercoop8 - Nov 15, 2013 at 6:24 PM

      Jozy seemed to work twice as hard off the ball as soon as Aron was subbed in; Aron checked back and made lateral runs which drew defenders and opened space for Jozy playing a traditional striking role. They do look good playing together in a 4-4-2 but I don’t think Klinsman will start most games in a 4-4-2 especially playing against stronger sides.

      You are spot on about Shea; he takes bad penalties, his first touch can be stone but no player off the bench besides Johansson has the ability to change the pace of a stuttering US side. There is a reason he is the most frequent US sub under Klinsmann; possible super sub and he proved that today with a bullish run towards net then finding the open Johansson.

      • bear06 - Nov 15, 2013 at 9:44 PM

        Diskerud and EJ have shown that they can make an impact as subs besides Johannsson.

      • supercoop8 - Nov 16, 2013 at 10:30 AM

        @Bear06 Diskerud off the bench will be used to replace a Donovan, Zusi, or outside mid playing tucked in; as a substitution he will be used to sharpen play. EJ proved again today that he can’t find a way to utilize his speed playing outside; though you are right he does have the ability to come off the bench and finish set pieces. Point being when the team is sluggish and playing with stuttering pace the best sub for raising pace is Shea due to his one dimensional north south game. He won’t be playing for Stoke much longer.

        You misconstrue acknowledgement of Shea’s skill set as high praise. No one believes he is an elite player but everyone understands why he is always in the discussion for the USMNT. Anyone who watched the game today saw the US running in water for 60 some minutes before Shea and Aron were introduced.

      • bear06 - Nov 16, 2013 at 3:55 PM

        The team didn’t play with any urgency in the first half. I expect the team to play much better against Austria next week.

    • jimmycrackcorn99 - Nov 15, 2013 at 8:39 PM

      Agreed. Now how to integrate Donovan and Dempsey without going to a 4-4-2…

      • danielofthedale - Nov 15, 2013 at 9:10 PM

        Seems like 4-4-2 works best for Jozy and Aron and for Clint and Landon. I don’t think a 4-4-2 would hurt Bradley. Seems like its the formation that makes the most sense or am I missing something?

      • jimmycrackcorn99 - Nov 15, 2013 at 9:15 PM

        I just remember an article somewhere about the reasons why a 4-4-2 is not right for the US. Maybe on Bleacher Report?

      • jimmycrackcorn99 - Nov 15, 2013 at 9:17 PM

        Just found it…

        http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1808416-usmnt-feckless-4-4-2-falls-flat-in-penultimate-world-cup-qualifier

      • supercoop8 - Nov 16, 2013 at 10:40 AM

        In a 4-5-1 Dempsey would be the high mid supporting the striker and Landon would be playing out wide. Donovan on the left side would most be probable trying to play Beasley on over lapping runs. The tricky part is selecting the other outside mid Zusi seems like the natural choice with Bradley and J Jones/G Cameron playing the other center spots. But Zusi and Donovan playing gives them very slow pressure from the wing. Fabian Johnson could play left outside, which would be more defensively sound, and then move Donovan to the right but FJ might be used as a substitute fullback. What are your thoughts??

        I do hope Klinsmann plays Klejstan at mid against Austria, he deserves a strong look. Klinsmann also seems to love the style of play from Bedoya..

    • bear06 - Nov 15, 2013 at 9:42 PM

      He’s not going to be on the team to Brazil if he can’t even get on the bench for Stoke. Right now he’s still on the fringes to make the WC roster.

  2. herogoesallin - Nov 15, 2013 at 5:36 PM

    espn u suck for not showing italy vs germany.

  3. boscoesworld - Nov 15, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    Hopefully people start to see Eddie Johnson for the player he is. How many easy give aways did he have? I stopped counting at 9!! That is dreadful. He is the blind squirrel. He gets lucky and finds a nut once and awhile. He (as did most of the rest) looked like he was sleep walking in the first half. I am sure he is pouting about the Seattle situations but it seems as though he is always pouting. We have better options up top and waaaay better options out wide.

    • danielofthedale - Nov 15, 2013 at 7:40 PM

      EJ is not wide player and I don’t think he is best used as a starter. I think EJ does something better than other player in the player pool though, He is by far the best chance of scoring a headed goal from a free or corner kick. I also think he is better focused as a sub, and uses his speed much more effectively off the bench.

  4. supercoop8 - Nov 15, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    The most frustrating part of this lackluster ninety minute display for me was the reluctance some US players have to look forward and press when the situation dictates it. The US even manage to take 30 yard free kicks short to a supporting player then two passes later the ball was on the foot of Howard. How could that possibly be better than lofting a ball in or striking one on frame?? It is maddening. Even with a few starters out it is inexcusable for stagnant play against a non-qualifying team, it furthers the thought that the existence of Concacaf gifts the US a world cup bid. The best part of the game was leaving work early and drinking an Avery bomber.

  5. unclemosesgreen - Nov 15, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    Sometimes a 0-0 draw can be thrilling & compelling. This was not one of those times.

  6. shadowking1 - Nov 16, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    Disappointing. With hardly any international matches left before the big show, I guess I was hoping for a more ambitious showing from the US. The first half was dreadful. The US was tentative and lacked urgency and purpose This allowed an experimental Scottish side to settle down and start putting together plays. The second half was a little better, and further improved with the substitutions.

    The US is capable of playing a high pressing high tempo game as evidenced by the introduction of Aron and Shea. Though I still feel Shea is an impact sub, Eddie out on the wing seems ineffective. He has virtually no chemistry with Jozy. Aron on the other hand creates more opportunities for Jozy (and for himself), and the US immediately look dangerous. If Aron gets more playing time, I’m sure he will develop this chemistry with others as well (when he did not pick out Wondo in the box).

    With such a showing, the question is whether the US can handle the heat at the World Cup. Damn, #12 ranked Chile looked good yesterday (albeit against a moderate English side).

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