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Soccer US National Team

Scotland Proves No Match for Klinsmann, Donovan, and Floridian Humidity in Exciting but Predictable Friendly

Besides the running jokes on Twitter about the Scots sweating whiskey through their pores in the sweltering and oppressive Florida humidity, Scotland really looked to be struggling (and, frankly, simply looked tired) all night against a US side under new(ish) direction and sporting new Where’s Waldo uniforms. The latter joke seemed particularly apropos, as the Scottish defense couldn’t seem to find their marks—especially Landon Donovan, who scored a hat-trick with relative ease in the 5-1 US win in Jacksonville.

Yes, Scotland didn’t come into the match with exceptionally great expectations, and it’s only a friendly on home soil for the US, but the red-white-and-blue don’t get games like this all that often, so it’s worth celebrating (Brazil is next, mind you).

One thing to take home from this match is that Jurgen Klinsmann’s attacking 4-5-1 is not just entertaining but highly effective, as American midfielders had the support to roam and make plays both through the center and on the wings. Edu, Bradley, Jones, and Bocanegra all played decently throughout, helping the US dominate possession in the second and final thirds. It certainly helps that many of the American players have been training together for quite a while; the timing and communication of the runs and passes looked like clinical soccer if I’ve ever seen it. Now throw Clint Dempsey into the mix, and imagine the possibilities.

And yet, as I said, I’m trying to keep my response measured. A home friendly against a mid-level team missing some starters is not exactly monumental. It’s never a good idea for any team to rest on its laurels, and it’s not exactly clear that this win earns the US any laurels in the first place. As Marcus Aurelius once wrote, “Keep in mind how fast things pass by and are gone…it would take an idiot to feel self-importance or distress.” That is, this win does little to change the fates of either team; the result is in fact extremely predictable, albeit exciting. The euphoria on the US side will pass, as will the disapointment on the Scottish side, and both teams will go about their business to get ready for upcoming games that actually count in the standings somewhere. Klinsmann still has a lot of work to do if he hopes his side will avoid embarrassment against better organized teams on the upcoming schedule.

But nonetheless, it’s encouraging to see more than 44,000 people come out to cheer on the US team, and to see an American side play with some urgency. Actually, it’s encouraging just to see an American side score first in a match. In short, we’ll take what we can get.