Tuesday’s U.S. match with Austria will probably be a little better than Friday’s sleepy contest in Glasgow, a scoreless draw bereft of many chances on either side.
Then again, it may not be a whole lot better; there are plenty of reasons to wonder if it will be just as listless and uneventful as Friday’s scoreless draw in Glasgow. Which is why I am so curious about how everyone seems so shocked that Friday’s match was a dog.
It’s Scotland! And that team will never be confused with Spain or Argentina or Brazil or even Germany’s current bunch of brazen attacking barons. Plus, it’s the United States on the road … minus its top pair of attackers, no less.
Who every expected that one to be some 4-3 sizzler?
First, as I said, it’s Scotland, a team that scored eight goals in 10 Word Cup qualifiers. As dynamic attacking goes, there’s not a lot there.
From the United States side, most lists of the team’s difference makers on attack would begin with Clint Dempsey. He wasn’t there. Neither was Landon Donovan, who is probably second on many lists.
The top playmakers in terms of creativity? That’s Donovan, Graham Zusi and Michael Bradley. Two of the three weren’t there, and one plays irregularly (Bradley at Roma), so he’s not premium-level sharp.
Now add in the fact that this was a friendly. All that hooey over Scotland seeking revenge … as I said earlier, that was a just narrative for narrative’s sake. Scotland is a team rebuilding, concerned more with individual evaluation rather than results. (And by the way, in Scotland, a scoreless draw against a World Cup-bound opposition was generally reviewed as a positive result.)
Most of all, however, is this: The United States has two types of players right now. The first group is guys who understand they need to make an impression. They have to force Jurgen Klinsmann to consider adding their names to the World Cup roster. Those are guys like Sacha Kljestan, Mix Diskerud and Brek Shea.
But a lot of the U.S. men at Hampden Park are in a good spot. For them, the prevailing mindset is closer to, “Do not make a mistake.”
Guys like Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron, DaMarcus Beasley (pictured above) and others are on the roster … so long as they don’t start making a bunch of silly mistakes. So it’s understandable if their choices on the field lean to the cautious side. It is what it is.
None of us will want to hit the DVR to watch Friday’s game again and again – but let’s not act surprised by that. The surprise would have been a real crackerjack of a contest, with teams zipping up and down the field exchanging chances liberally.
Who knows, maybe we’ll get that Tuesday. With one reasonable result out of the way in this two-game set (yes … a draw on the road is OK), perhaps the United States might take a few more chances.
Or, we might just get another match played in the slow lane. Let’s not all act surprised this time.