USMNT prepares to fine-tune against Scotland in penultimate 2013 friendly

USMNT train in Panama

Photo by ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

World Cup qualifying and its drama are in the rear-view mirror for the U.S. Men’s National Team. What lies ahead are the final preparations for the World Cup.

The U.S. is currently in Europe preparing for the first of its final two friendlies in its successful 2013 campaign. The Americans are set to pay a visit to the historic stadium that is Hampden Park in Glasgow to take on Scotland on Friday. The friendly will allow head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to further fine-tune his side ahead of next summer’s World Cup in Brazil while also providing an opportunity to look at some fringe players.

Klinsmann has repeated in recent weeks that he fully expects a tough challenge from a Scotland side that recently missed out on qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Some observers may be skeptical of that given the 5-1 drubbing the U.S. handed Scotland in May 2012 in a friendly in Jacksonville, Fla., but the circumstances surrounding that match made for a game that the Scotsmen cared little about.

That will not be the case again on Friday, not with the Scots playing in front of their boisterous fans and not with that last result against the Americans still somewhat fresh in their minds. Still, expect the U.S. to come out looking to dictate the tempo, especially with midfield ace Michael Bradley back in the fold.

Bradley has not played for the U.S. since an August friendly victory over Bosnia & Herzegovina, sidelined with an ankle knock sustained in pregame warm-ups in September’s World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica. Bradley’s return should help the midfield, which surely will include Jermaine Jones, be more composed with the ball than it has been in recent games and that should make for a difficult day at the office for Scotland midfielders like Celtic’s Scott Brown and Stoke City’s Charlie Adam.

That improvement in possession should translate to more scoring chances for the American forwards, including Jozy Altidore. The Sunderland forward is currently in the thick of a scoring drought at the club level, but there should be holes to exploit against Scotland’s defense and chances to be had against whichever internationally inexperienced goalkeeper is given the nod (the three Scottish goalkeepers on the roster combine for 11 caps).

Two other American regulars who should see the field in Glasgow are left back DaMarcus Beasley and outside midfielder Alejandro Bedoya. The duo formerly called Scotland home while playing for Scottish powerhouse Rangers, and facing off against several old teammates should serve as a memorable moment.

The game in Glasgow is about more than the American regulars, however. Players like Sacha Kljestan, John Brooks and Eric Lichaj could also get a chance to stake their claim ahead of the World Cup. Brooks seems the most likely to receive a long look, especially after his promising showing back in August. But even that is no sure thing given that both Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez are in camp.

Regardless of who starts in the back, the U.S. defense and captain Tim Howard will need to be watchful of Steven Naismith. The 27-year-old forward should prove a handful for whoever he matches up against, though Howard should help in that regard given that he and Naismith are teammates at Everton.

Klinsmann wants that type of challenge, however, as he helped schedule this match to test his side and find more answers about his players seven months before they begin their World Cup campaign.

Given that Scotland will be at home on Friday trying to redeem itself after missing out on Brazil and losing to the U.S. last year by such a lopsided margin, the Americans should get just that.

This entry was posted in Featured, U.S. Men's National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

72 Responses to USMNT prepares to fine-tune against Scotland in penultimate 2013 friendly

  1. Dinho says:

    This will likely not happen, but here’s my preferred starting XI:

    ———- Altidore —– Johannsson——–

    Beasley — MB90 – Mix ———– Bedoya

    Lichaj — Brooks – Cameron — Orozco

    —————– Howard ———————–

  2. CJ says:

    “The duo formerly called Hampden Park home while playing for Scottish powerhouse Rangers”

    Uh, Ibrox is Rangers’ home. Hampden Park is the national stadium of Scotland.

    • NC Jeff says:

      Yeah, kind of a whoops there, huh … at least they’re close to each other (about 4 miles away). Or, perhaps they lived in Hampden Park while they played for Rangers … yeah, probably not.

    • Kingsly Alexander says:

      Right. Their training at Ibrox but Hampden is home too Queens Park FC

  3. Eurosnob says:

    Does anyone have recommendations for bars/restaurants to watch the game and European WC qualifiers in Raleigh, NC? One of my kids is playing in a soccer tournament there and we wanted to catch a game or two on Friday.

  4. Herschel Skywalker says:

    “Penultimate?” Anyone else find the use of that word here a little odd?

    • iggy says:

      makes sense to me. Not common, but it works.

    • Nihal says:

      It means second to last, so I don’t really have a problem with it. What’s bothering you exactly?

    • Waterlewd says:

      Yeah, it’s odd because penultimate is a modifier for 2013 instead on friendly. In grammer it’s called a misplaced modifier. The heading should be ‘…Penultimate Friendly of 2013.’ But I’m guessing that would cause the heading to be too large. But you could then say “USMNT Fine-Tunes Against Scotland in Penultimate Friendly of 2013.” Do you expect good grammar at SBI?

  5. ZZtopppp says:

    I am a big Mix fan, but I think we will see:

    ——————–Altidore——————
    E.Johnson——Johannson——-Bedoya
    ————Jones———–Bradley——-
    Beasley—Cameron—Gonzalez—Evans
    ———————-Timmy—————–

    What I would like to see:
    ——————–Altidore—————-
    Bedoya———Diskerud—-Johannson
    ———-Cameron—–Bradley———-
    Beasley—Brooks—Gonzalez—Lichaj
    ——————Timmy——————

    • Dinho says:

      Switch Cameron for Gonzalez in your second lineup and I can dig it.

    • Wonderloaf says:

      You forgot Wondolowski.

    • CamRahn Bay says:

      I love your lineup – a lot. One thing I have a legitimate question about, and I realize JK will most likely utilize the one striker bit on the road, but why don’t we ever see Altidore up top with Johannson? I thought Bacon was a pure striker… I keep seeing him out wide, tucked in as an attacking center mid like LD or Dempsey… could he really thrive in that spot? These next 2 games are perfect opportunities to see what those two can do together up top. I thought that was what we saw at AZ last year anyways?

      I love Cameron and Bradley in the midfield… I like Jones but he is so hot and cold, and he has that scary potential of being sent off every game. Cameron allows Bradley to roam on offense more, yet still gets forward on set pieces and corners and is quite dangerous.

  6. Kingsly Alexander says:

    Concerning Lichaj, I think as Evans right now is the incumbent starter, we’ll see him start the first game with Lichaj taking his place late in the game.

    Then in the second game Lichaj will start. Of course that’s only supposing without taking matchups into account, but in a systematic way, that would seem the way to do it.

    Also, in the midfield, I don’t think Jones and Bradley will start both games. Between Kjlestan and Diskerud one of them is bound to start next to Bradley more then likely. Could be Jones

    • biff says:

      that is exactly what I am thinking also, because whoever plays right back in the second game against Austria will be facing David Alaba, who starts for FC Bayern and is without a doubt one of the best left backs on the world. I don’t think Klinsmann will want to risk letting Evans get chewed up by Alaba, so will probably let Lichaj have the pleasure. And then if Alaba beats Lichaj a few times, will make it easy to pull the plug again on Lichaj and for JK to bring back his good buddy you-know-who. All that said, if Lichaj shows well against Alaba, well, Klinsmann will have no choice but to call him up again amd forget you-know-who until after WC 2014.

      • Kingsly Alexander says:

        I would definitely say, however many times Lichaj would be bested, Evans would be beaten many more times over.

        Now if this happens, there will be a bunch of malarky on these boards about Lichaj being of even lesser quality then Evans as RB, but again wether it’s Charlie Mulgrew or Lee Wallace who plays at LB, there’s no comparison to Alaba like you justifiably stated, and ppl should keep that in perspective, although I’m almost 100% sure that won’t happen on this message board.

        • GW says:

          Mr Alexander,

          Perspective?
          Hypocritical nonsense coming from someone who says

          ”however many times Lichaj would be bested, Evans would be beaten many more times over. Now if this happens, there will be a bunch of malarky on these boards about Lichaj being of even lesser quality then Evans as RB, “

          • Kingsly Alexander says:

            I don’t follow.

            I’ve kept my opinions in perspective, and I’ve seen what American fans do best in sports, especially on message boards, which is overreact.

            Concerning which of Evans and Lichaj have to face in Scotland and Austria, ppl should keep perspective of the quality of the opponent.

            Objectively, one would have to agree based on credentials that Lichaj is a better RB. That’s perspective

            • GW says:

              “Objectively, one would have to agree based on credentials that Lichaj is a better RB. That’s perspective”

              Perhaps in your universe, but not in the real world, which is all I am interested in.
              In international terms both players are of mediocre quality at this point. Both are what I would call modestly talented players. Hopefully the competition will cause one or the other or both to raise their levels.

              An argument, albeit a fairly weak one, could be made that Lichaj has better credentials but that does not guarantee that he will be a better fright back than Evans for the US.

              The USMNT is different from Nottingham Forest. The manager, the players, the scheme, the competition, the expectations are all different. It’s not just a question of winding him up and dropping him in.

              In terms of how they fit into the USMNT, “credentials” do not determine who is a better player, actual performance does.

              If Evans, when he plays, out performs Lichaj at right back then he is the better right back for the USMNT and vice versa.

              And the person who is doing the grading on that score is JK.

              Your perspective lacks perspective.

        • biff says:

          Make no mistake, Lichaj detractors with their magnifying glasses will be seeking any excuses at all to pull the plug on Lichaj after this camp and never call him back to the USMNT. It will be very interesting to see where and when Klinsmann plays both Lichaj and Evans and with what sort of support. Does anyone remember the Spain friendly in summer 2011 before the Gold Cup and the line-up Bob Bradley sent out to be massacred while a certain player in dire need of playing time was kept safely on the bench until the second half after Spain had pulled their star players and the rest were exhausted from the heat?

  7. Beckerman4lyfe says:

    I tell u how da roster gone be:

    ——Wondolowski—E.Johnson——
    shay—badoya—-bradly——-boyds
    Evan—Brook—Gonzolez—orosocos
    ————–S.Jonson—————–

  8. Scott e Dio93 says:

    No Wondo or Eddie Johnson!

    Altidore

    Beasley Kevin Bacon Bedoya

    Bradley Jones

    Cameron Gonzalez Brooks Lichaj

  9. Scott e Dio93 says:

    Any keeper is fine with me.

  10. 2tone says:

    Staring 11:

    ————Wondo———Wondow—–
    Lowski——Owski———–Wondolo———Won
    Ski———–Ondo———–Low———–Chris
    ————————Wondolowski——————–

  11. Tg says:

    Austria is going to be a much better side than the Scots.

  12. Grant says:

    Anyone going to this match? Flying up from Germany and would love to see some US Supporters in person and grab a drink or five :)

  13. Dennis says:

    I’ve given up guessing who JK will start. I do think it is time to work more on forming a cohesive defensive unit than it is time to be searching for the next defensive star. That argues that this is the very last shot for Brooks or Lichaj to insert themselves into the picture. Gonzo, Beasley, Evans, Orozco and Cameron along with Besler, Dolo and Castillo are the guys they will need to replace. I think it really is the last shot for those two until after Brazil.

    • biff says:

      Most certainly the door for a slot on the USMNT in the process of closing, but it will remain open a crack until Klinsmann submits the final roster to Fifa next spring, I guess in May. Maybe a couple of injuries or a severe drop in form. I am skeptical that Brooks can develop to the level needed for WC play. That said, I am eager to see if he will prove me wrong today and Tuesday. I hope so.

      In any case, I think Klinsmann has made a potentially big mistake not calling in during the past six months (including the Gold Cup) a couple of other club center backs (Cameron is a club right back) for testing. Some on SBI have suggested Chris Schuler as a prime candidate for a test. He is older and more experienced than Brooks, who has been warming the bench the past month for Hertha Berlin before being shipped down last week for two games with Hertha’s reserve squad. But, of course, Schuler was born in the US so he does not get the benefit of the doubt that American players born abroad get. If John Brooks as a 20-year-old played center back for Real Salt Lake, would he have been called up for the USMNT? We well never know, but I doubt it.

      • Lost in Space says:

        First – Brooks “warming the bench the past month” & “Shipped down for 2 games with the Reserve Squad” has more to do with the fact that he was injured and is just coming back to fitness. Reserve teams are perfect to knock the rust off a player.
        Second – Look at the number of games Shuler has played professionally compaired to Brooks. Shuler & Brooks have about the same number of games in comparitive leagues (MLS & Bundas 2). But Brooks also has Bundas 1 experience which trumps MLS experience.
        Shuler will get called in at some point. Most likely January Camp Cup Cake; since Cameron, Brooks, & Orozco will be unavailable for selection and JK will want to round out CB options for training (Besler, Gonzalez, Goodson, Shuler). Minus anyone who goes on Loan.
        At the moment Brooks is fighting for the last CB slot on the 2014 roster, most likely against Goodson. If called in to January Camp JK and his staff will have a chance to compair Shuler and Goodson side by side. If Shuler impresses he’ll have a chance to fight Brook for the spot in the May FIFA window.
        I for one am actually kind of hoping that a large number of the MLS players actually don’t go out on loan this off season. I’d love for the January camp to include as many of the likely 2014 squad as possible so that they get a lot of time training together.
        Donovan, Dempsey, Zusi, Beckerman, EJ, Besler, Gonzalez, Goodson need more time to integrate and form chemistry together.

        • biff says:

          That is an excellent post, and makes a lot of sense concerning Camp Cupcake as a good final testing ground for CBs. But would like to repeat what I mentioned the other day that after the elbow injury, Brooks was back in training for Hertha Berlin in mid October and, according to news reports, apparently not showing well. Before the elbow injury, he had made several major mistakes in late September, including the foul that gave Wolfsburg a penalty and a bad pass that gave Freiburg a goal. His coach, Josh Luhukay was quoted saying that Brooks made more mistakes in those few weeks that he had all of last season. Apparently, according to Luhhkay, Brooks was suffering a confidence crisis. I think this might stem in part from all the pressure the kid was under from USMTN call-up in August, when he snubbed the German U-20 team.

          I think Klinsmann has gotten carried away with the USMNT cap-tying trigger, bringing in guys born abroad who wouldn’t have been given a sniff otherwise. Julian Green being called into camp (and then Julian Green changing his mind and backing out, contrary to the PR line from Klinsmann claiming that called it off) and Brooks call-up in August. Both Green and Brooks, IMO, should not yet have been invited by Klinsmann to join camps. Smells of favoritism and sends the wrong signal to the rest of the pool.

          And I am eager to see Bacon get a start. Yes, he is doing well in the Dutch league, but will he be able to translate that to international play. Or is this another case of a player who fans think must be better because he is a dual national? I don’t know. We will finally probably get a better idea in the next two games. Could be that Mike Magee would be a better choice as an attacking midfielder. But as long as Klinsmann ignore him and does not bring him in for a test, then it’s easy to simply. Nah. Magee ain’t good enough.

          • Kingsly Alexander says:

            Agreed great post @ Lost In Space

            @ Biff
            With AJ, it had looked to me that he was very nervy in his first couple of appearances (justifiably so), but I think getting that goal against Panama will do a heck of a lot for his mental state. There won’t be millions of eyes waiting and expecting that first goal, ya know? So I think he’ll approach these games with a lot more ease and hopefully it’ll show in his play. Certainly Jurgen will be saying all the right things in his ear so I’m confident we can expect something positive.

            With Magee, I don’t feel like he presents a position of need with the US. We have secondary strikers that drop into the midfield and attacking mids that are more technically astute and creative then him. He’s not a flank player really, and if that were the only spot he had a look at, I could envision seeing a level disparity from the get go like with Brad Davis.

            @ Lost In Space
            I see where your coming from with the chemistry point, but in all honesty I don’t think that will have any major play into what will come from that

            Dempsey would be best suited thrown into a higher level of play at this point, to try and sharpen his senses and muscle memory up to the standard were used to seeing. Not a Tottenham, not at a Everton where competition is really deep, but at a Fulham, West Ham even Sunderland (which doesn’t sound bad at all really, being with Alti) where he’ll be able to fight for minutes right off the back and expected to make an impact.

            Zusi at his age, could do with with the same. Anywhere where he’s guaranteed a reasonable place to fight for minutes. I look at Beckerman a season or two ago after his training stint with Kaiserslautern and it just seems after that point he’s done immensely well with the US teams on afterwards. He’s always been a consistent quality player, but it just seemed like he had that extra push, because he what the best around the world were doing day in and day out

            For Besler and Gonzalez I would say the same. EJ is too fragile I would be scarred he’d loose his swagger on landing outside of the US. Players like Donovan and Goodson I think just need to focus on being healthy and heading into January camp. I think showing their leadership ability amongst the MLS players that will be around will be something of equal importance to show Jurgen besides form.

          • Dennis says:

            Defenders are hard to judge in a short time span. They can certainly look good if they can go forward and support the attack, but it takes time against quality opposition to learn if they can play games free from mental mistakes or lapses upon which the opponents can capitalize. I haven’t seen any of Lichaj, Schuler or Brooks enough to have any opinion on if they can play error free for long stretches. As others have noted Gonzo does have an issue in that category. Very soon JK will need to decide which players he will prefer and start working on developing the cohesiveness that is needed (and identifying backups).

          • biff says:

            “Very soon JK will need to decide which players he will prefer and start working on developing the cohesiveness that is needed (and identifying backups).”

            Agreed, Dennis. And wins Grand Prize for Understatement of the Year. Let’s be honest, Klinsmann wasted a lot of friendlies in his first 18 months experimenting over and over with the same defenders when he should have been bringing in more new faces. Yes, Omar’s mental lapses are worrisome. Omar needs two weeks in Dortmund training after the game in Vienna. I hope Klinsmann can fix that, although I have no idea about the relationship between Klopp and Klinsmann.

  14. Pingback: Valdes unlikely to return in 2014, Drexel and La Salle advance, US v Scotland previews, more

  15. Yankeedom says:

    If Brooks starts both of these friendlies and logs heavy minutes during both, is it safe to assume Klinsmann has him penciled in as a starter for Brazil (barring injury or extremely poor form, of course)?