A banner year for the U.S. Men’s National Team ended in disappointing fashion with two friendly matches against Scotland and Austria. The U.S. should have been able to win both matches, but instead failed to score a goal in either match and ended up with a draw against Scotland and a loss to Austria, ending what is statistically the most successful season in U.S soccer history on a sour note.
For all intents and purposes, the match against Scotland should have been an easy win for the U.S. Although the Scots have come on strong over the past few months, the Americans beat Scotland 5-1 in May 2012 and should have been able to come out on top once again. Instead, the U.S. came out flat and uninspired, and didn’t look particularly creative offensively until a few promising opportunities towards the end of the match.
Against Austria, the U.S. was robbed of a chance to take an early lead by a handball that the referee ignored. Outside of a few sparse opportunities, the Americans lacked enough quality in the final third to penetrate a tough Austrian defense, and one defensive lapse on their on of the field was enough to lose the game to a tough, but beatable European team.
In defense of Jurgen Klinsmann’s team, they were playing without key players such as Clint Dempsey, Graham Zusi and Matt Besler, three regular starters in the A-lineup. Their presence would have changed the complexion of both matches. Also absent was Landon Donovan, whose future with the national team still appears uncertain.
A couple of disappointing results in friendly matches isn’t the end of the world for the U.S., but it would have been nice to finish a great year on a positive note while also creating some momentum going into the upcoming 2014 World Cup Draw.