Before the U.S. Men’s National Team closes out a rather successful 2013 calendar year, they will take a trip to Europe for friendly matches next week against Scotland and Austria. Although both are away matches on European soil, there should be no excuse for the U.S. not winning both matches to end their year on a high note.
The U.S. has raised its level of play and improved its reputation as a soccer nation to the point where they should be able to beat mediocre European nations any time and any place, no questions asked. Both Scotland and Austria should both be considered mediocre teams, below World Cup caliber, and the U.S. should have no trouble beating either of them, regardless who Jurgen Klinsmann names to the roster.
Scotland had a rather disappointing campaign in 2014 World Cup Qualifying, finishing fourth in their group. But they did finish strong winning three of their final four matches, including two wins over Croatia who finished second in the group and is a favorite to win their playoff match against Iceland to qualify for Brazil. The U.S. played Scotland last in May of 2012, beating them 5-1 led by a hat trick from Landon Donovan. While the Scots have no doubt improved since then, the Americans have improved as well and should be able to dominate the match.
Austria figures to be a tougher opponent as they came up just a few points shy of finishing second in their group and advancing to the UEFA playoffs in World Cup Qualifying. They also won four or their five home matches during qualifying, losing only to Germany, making them a tough side to play on the road. Austria is comparable to European teams that the U.S. may face in the 2014 World Cup, but it’s a team the Americans should be able to beat.
Since Klinsmann took over as the U.S. coach they are 3-2-1 on European soil, and that record should only improve after these upcoming matches. If the U.S. is really as good as we think they are after making such big strides this year, then beating both Scotland and Austria on European soil should be no problem and it should be considered a disappointment if the U.S. doesn’t end up winning both matches.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.