When talking about the United States in friendlies under Jurgen Klinsmann, you cannot just say, “that big win” or “that great result.”
Now, you had better darn well say which one.
Under Klinsmann, the team is starting to accumulate quite a little stack of surprising and worthy results. Yes, they are only friendlies – but getting a good result is always preferable to suffering a bad one, eh?
Let’s look at the best … and how I might rank them.
(And this isn’t even talking about other good results, like a 3-2 win at Slovenia late in 2011, a showy 5-1 win over Scotland about this time last year or a 2-2 draw in Russia last winter):
3. United States 4-3 over Germany, Sunday: Yes, this was a depleted German roster – but “depleted” is surely relative in this case. Sunday’s win was important on two accounts. First, Germany is a strong side in world soccer, currently ranked No. 2 in the world (if you pay attention to those silly things).
But the timing was critical, too. Klinsmann’s troops sorely needed a restorative afternoon, one that helped fortify confidence ahead of three World Cup qualifiers over the next three weeks. They certainly didn’t need to drag themselves down to Jamaica later this week off consecutive clobberings on home soil.
2. United States 1-0 over Italy, February 2012: The win on Clint Dempsey’s goal was no fluke; Klinsmann’s men got it right that night. Any victory against a four-time FIFA World Cup champion is a distinguished result. And any win that snaps 10-game losing streak, as this one did against Italy, a stretch of dominance that dated to 1934, is big-time stuff, too. But to do it all in Italy, in Genoa! Yes, this was Klinsmann’s first, big moment in charge.
1. United States 1-0 over Mexico, August of 2012: Seldom do we use words like “historic” when it comes to friendlies. But Mexico doesn’t lose at Azteca!
Well, El Tri sure did that afternoon, and do not underestimate the psychological impact on both sides in the matches that matter. The ghost from that friendly win, on Michael Orozco Fiscal’s late winner, was hovering about as the United States earned a valuable tie in March during World Cup qualifying at Azteca. So, in that case there was an actual real world effect from a friendly result.