Scotland vs. USA: 6 Things We Learned
The United States men's national team tied Scotland on Friday 0-0. The game was a rematch, of sorts, of the game played last summer between the two, which the U.S. won 5-1. The match on Friday was played at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland, and was the first of two November friendlies for the USMNT.
Here are six things we learned from the game.
Alejandro Bedoya Needs to Be Better
Over the past year, Alejandro Bedoya has done as much as any other player in the USMNT player pool to improve his status. A year ago, he still had not received a call-up in the Jurgen Klinsmann era. On Friday, he started his fourth game in a row for the U.S.
Against Scotland, Bedoya struggled to make a substantial impact on the game. With stars Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Graham Zusi and Fabian Johnson missing from the U.S. midfield pool, Bedoya had an opportunity to further engrain himself into the U.S. squad. He didn't take it.
Bedoya repeatedly gave away possession and more than a few of those turnovers led to dangerous Scottish counterattacks. While he had a couple of nice runs, it wasn't nearly enough to separate himself from the pack of talented midfielders the U.S. has when fully healthy.
It Was a Snoozer
Even for the most rabid USMNT fan, Friday's match was pretty boring. Neither side generated many clear chances, and the ones that did come were mostly fired well over the goal, or wide.
It didn't help that U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann didn't put some of his more prolific attacking players like Mix Diskerud, Aron Johannsson or Terrence Boyd into the game until late. It would be hard to argue that any U.S. player significantly improved their stock against Scotland.
Time to Give DaMarcus Beasley His Due
DaMarcus Beasley didn't have a standout game against Scotland, but to be honest, no U.S. player did. What Beasley did do well, however, was mind his defensive duties and contribute to a solid effort by the U.S. defense.
The knock on Beasley is that he will get torn up against top-class wingers and forwards. That may be true—it's not like Scotland had anyone who could truly test him—but Beasley did his job on Friday night, clearing Scottish services into the box and keeping himself between his man and the U.S. goal.
Over the past year, Beasley has made the move to left-back and put in mostly solid performances. If anything was to be criticized of Beasley's game against Scotland, it was not his defensive play, it was his inability to put good service into the box on the attacking end. Considering the U.S.' historic weakness at left-back, U.S. fans should welcome that paradigm.
Tim Howard Was There When Needed
Behind a solid effort from the U.S. back line, American goalkeeper Tim Howard didn't have much to do on Friday night against Scotland, but when he was needed, he came up big as usual.
Wearing the captain's armband for the game in absence of usual captain Clint Dempsey, Howard made a big save in the 53rd minute on a Robert Snodgrass free kick that preserved the shutout for the U.S.
Some "Bubble" Players Didn't Take Their Chance
At this point, most U.S. fans would concede that Eddie Johnson, Sacha Kljestan and Aron Johannsson are all likely to make the U.S. World Cup roster.
What isn't clear is whether any of them will be a part of the regular starting lineup or see significant playing time.
Johnson faces competition up top from Jozy Altidore, Johannsson and Terrence Boyd and didn't take the opportunity to show what he could do on the wing (although he has had some impressive games there in the past). Johannsson looked smooth on the ball, as usual, but wasted two of the U.S.' best chances of the game.
Kljestan faces competition from Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, Mix Diskerud, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Kyle Beckerman for a spot in the center of the U.S. midfield and struggled to make a substantive impact as the U.S. attacking midfielder when given the chance on Friday.
Should Brek Shea Make the World Cup Squad?
Two things seem to have become clear about Brek Shea in the Jurgen Klinsmann era. The first is that Shea is not a complete player and has no business being trusted to put in a 90-minute effort for the USMNT. The other is that he is a weapon off the bench.
As Shea demonstrated in the first game of the Klinsmann era against Mexico in August 2011, again against Mexico at the Estadio Azteca in August 2012 and repeatedly this summer in the Gold Cup, he can make a difference as a substitute.
On Friday, Shea again was dangerous late in the game, making a strong run in the 85th minute and centering a pass that Aron Johannsson didn't finish.
Whether you love Shea or hate him, his ability to impact a game late is not to be disputed. That might be enough for him to sneak onto Klinsmann's list of 23 players for Brazil.
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