USMNT looks to finish record year on a high note vs. Austria

USA manager Jurgen Klinsmann

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

Heading into the final match of 2013, U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has overseen a near-revolution in his side. During the calendar year, the U.S. won 16 matches, three more than ever before in the same time span.

But still, many questions remain.

The USMNT’s scoreless draw against Scotland last Friday brought about as few positives as there were negatives, and as far as Klinsmann and his staff are concerned, it was likely a wasted opportunity for some players to solidify a potential place in the U.S. squad for next summer’s World Cup.

Now heading into a match against Austria on Tuesday, it’s another chance for the USMNT to test itself against a solid European side that just missed out on the UEFA World Cup qualification playoff round. Klinsmann himself in his prematch press conference has called the match a classic 50-50 battle, one that will give him a much better determination about how much more the U.S. squad needs to grow before next summer.

After rather subdued performances from Eddie Johnson, Jermaine Jones, and Geoff Cameron, the tilt against Austria could be a chance to see Aron Johannsson, Mix Diskerud, and John Brooks all play together from the onset. Both Johannsson and Diskerud added sparks to the U.S. attack that seemed out of sync and uninterested, while Brooks had a promising debut against Bosnia and Herzegovina last August but hasn’t featured since.

Another player that should receive a good chunk of minutes at the Ernst Happel Stadium on Tuesday is forward Terrence Boyd, who plays his club soccer for Rapid Vienna in the very same stadium. The 22-year-old German-American has 10 goals so far in all competitions for Rapid and as we’ve seen in the past under Klinsmann, is likely to earn a chance to play major minutes against a number of his club teammates.

For Boyd, it’s a great chance to show why he deserves a place on the World Cup squad. In recent months, especially with Johannsson’s inclusion in the squad, Boyd’s has been challenged by other forwards such as Chris Wondolowski, Will Bruin, and Herculez Gomez. A strong performance with the USMNT could help improve his stock towards next summer.

While the focus will likely be on the American youngsters in the lineup, the USMNT squad must keep an eye out for two players who play in two of the top league’s in the world. Left midfielder David Alaba plays for Bayern Munich on a regular basis, and is easily the most talented and most visible player in the Austria squad. However, U.S. defender Cameron’s Stoke City teammate, Marco Arnautović, is another shifty player in the midfield who can cause the Americans some problems.

Klinsmann will find out on Tuesday whether makeshift right back Brad Evans is really up for the job next summer when he faces the likely relentless attacks down the wing from Alaba. The left-footed 21-year-old carries pace and tremendous control of the ball, something that has given right backs across the globe issues. The USMNT’s worry will be whether Evans—who had a sub-par performance against Scotland’s Craig Conway—can respond to such a big challenge.

Austrian midfielder Zlatko Junuzović and defender Sebastian Prödl have been ruled out of the match due to injuries, but otherwise Austria manager Marcel Koller plans on starting his strongest eleven players available.

The loss of Prödl could be a boon to U.S. forward Jozy Altidore, who hasn’t scored a goal in a competitive match for club or country since Oct. 11 in the USMNT’s 2-0 win over Jamaica. Klinsmann has preached patience for the Sunderland forward, who put in a workmanlike effort on Friday despite not receiving a lot of service.

In the end, the outcome will hinge on the performance of their veteran leader in goal, Tim Howard. With his shutout last Friday, the 34-year-old goalkeeper took his all-time count to 34, good for second-place in American soccer history, ahead of Tony Meola. Another strong performance from Howard and the defense in front of him could give the young forwards a chance to gamble when moving into the attacking third, something that was clearly lacking against Scotland.

Regardless of the result, the match will be a special moment for many involved. For Klinsmann, it will represent the end of a record year where the USMNT will finish with the best ever winning percentage in a calendar year. For assistant coach Andreas Herzog, it’s a chance to go up against his native country, where he holds the record for most caps all-time (103). And for Boyd, it’s a chance play against some of his club teammates in his home stadium.

For the final time in 2013, the USMNT will take the field, knowing that they’ve managed to raise the expectations among the fan base back home and proving that they are a strong enough team to earn a result away in Europe.

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27 Responses to USMNT looks to finish record year on a high note vs. Austria

  1. Maykol says:

    I wish Boyd, altidore, and aj all started

  2. AustrianNT says:

    Boyd isn’t playing in his home stadium. In the Ernst happel stadium only the national team has it games. And he will also not face a teammate in this game, because there are no Rapid Vienna Players in our Team. ;)

    • John says:

      I’m guessing you would know but I thought I read somewhere they play Europa league matches in Ernst happel?

    • Chris Ou says:

      Oh really? Then how come Marcel Schbitzer is on your team then, doesn’t he play for Rapid Vienna?

  3. Del Griffin says:

    Please no more jones. He creates way more chances for the other team than for us.

  4. mike says:

    would love to see lichaj in plan e of evans

    • Lorenzo says:

      Well I would simply for the fact that we can see what Lichaj does, we pretty much know how Evans is.

    • Lost in Space says:

      Give Evans a half….if he’s torched JK and staff know he’s not a RB starter next summer.
      If torched swap Lichaj in at half. If he’s not torched swap Lichaj in at half for Beasely.
      IMHO neither Beasely or Evans should be starting fullbacks. We’ve gotten away using them in CONCACAF, but need to hope someone else can step it up before the WC.

      • Phil B says:

        I’m glad someone else sees that Beasley is out of place. He has had a handful of decent games as a LB, but his marking is a liability back there. He has been responsible for more than a few goals from that side, and gotten away with some missed opportunities (especially against Germany.) I would love to see Beasley and F. Johnson switch roles where they’re on the field at the same time.

        Although, I have been pleasantly surprised with Evans. He is a solid defender.

        If you pool Evans and Beasley’s strengths, we would have two good fullbacks, instead of two serviceable ones.

    • beto says:

      +1 we have two pretty decent RB’s, Cameron and Lichaj, on this team hopefully one of them gets the start..

      wherever Alaba lines up he will likely be attacking the RB.. finally a good test! imo the Scotland game was a waste of time wish we played a team with a better wing attack like Wales, Ecuador, Chile, Poland, Peru, England or Argentina… Austria should be a better test.

  5. Amit says:

    I have to admit than when I first read that Jozy put in a “workmanlike effort” I read “womanlike effort”

  6. B1879 says:

    Would love to see Lichaj ditch the mohawk

  7. B16 says:

    I thought Martin Vasquez was Klinsy’s assistant-Herzog replace him?

  8. Smokey says:

    Whitey Herzog is now coaching soccer?

  9. Smokey says:

    Smokey says USA smokes Austria, 4-0

  10. LM says:

    I hope Johannsson starts and that Shea comes in as a sub and gets more minutes also i think a different defense would be better.

  11. Smokey says:

    Just start wondo and he’ll have a hat trick!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Lost in Space says:

      Sorry but Wondo is firmly in place as the Water Boy, who’s duties should hopefully keep him off the playing field.

  12. Other Jim says:

    Not a word about Shea?

  13. Joamiq says:

    Would love to see Boyd, Johannsson, Kljestan, Diskeruud, Lichaj, and Brooks all start (but JK would never do that).

  14. Dennis says:

    It all depends on who JK wants to test in what is the last major game in a while. Testing Evans against a quality LW makes sense. Camaron at CB or Brooks? Dunno. Maybe no Jones to see who can pair effectively with Bradley? Up top we are still waiting for a pair of forwards, who best complements Jozy? Johannsonn could provide wing play, but I am clueless about his abilty to help out defensively (but is probably as good as EJ at that, and is else better). Still EJ can score goals if he is a forward, So many questions! Boyd looked big, strong and willing to score, but naive last time I saw him. Wondo has showed he is the best pure goal scorer presently in MLS, but there are questions if he is athletic enough and able to create enough to bring that scoring touch to the international level.