U.S.A. vs. Scotland
November 15, 2013, 12 pm PT; Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland
TV: ESPN2; Univision
The U.S. National Team has taken giant leaps during the last year.
It has qualified for the World Cup, won the CONCACAF Gold Cup and established a competitive environment and deep team that is poised to make waves in Brazil next summer. With the final two matches of the year in friendlies with Scotland on Friday and Austria on Tuesday, Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann hopes to further solidify that depth and put an exclamation point on what has been a fruitful year in 2013.
“Therefore, in 2013, I think we achieved a lot in becoming more consistent, handing out clear messages to the players, stepping it up on the field, and learning more about how to live a professional life off the field,” Klinsmann said on USsoccer.com. “We made a lot of improvements with our group, and it makes us look positive for the near future. You can build that culture and keep on improving it by making them stronger by giving them more belief, more confidence by getting results away from home, playing your game away from home. This is all a process we’re going through, but it’s coming along.”
Sounders FC will be well represented in the matches with Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson both available for Klinsmann. Evans started at right back for the U.S. for most of the year and Johnson has scored five goals in 15 matches – tied with DeMarcus Beasley for the most appearances this year.
Clint Dempsey, meanwhile, will not be available after suffering a calf strain in training on Wednesday.
The U.S. will be missing several other key players to injuries, as Fabian Johnson also suffered an injury in training this week and Landon Donovan, Edgar Castillo, Brad Guzan and Clarence Goodson all didn’t make the trip because of injuries and Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Brad Davis, Matt Besler and Graham Zusi all stayed with their MLS clubs while they play in the MLS Cup playoffs.
Those absences create opportunities for other young players like defenders Eric Lichaj and John Brooks, midfielder Mix Diskerud and forward Aron Johannsson, among others.
“Every time someone is missing because of an injury, it’s a huge opportunity for the next one to come in and get that shot,” Klinsmann said. “We love these kinds of situations because it gives a special kind of energy to the group because it’s full of guys that want to prove something.”
In Scotland, the U.S. meets a team ranked 35th in FIFA’s latest world rankings, whereas the U.S. is ranked 13th. Scotland finished fourth in a tough group in UEFA World Cup qualifying that included Belgium, Croatia and Serbia, missing out on qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but has put together a team with an eye on the 2016 European Championships, providing a good matchup for the American side on Friday.
Likewise, Austria, ranked 53rd in the world, finished third in a group that included Germany, Sweden and Ireland, narrowly missing out on a playoff appearance.
“They’re bringing a couple fresh players in there that are very hungry to prove to their coaches that they want to be part of the big picture in the future. That makes for real good competition,” Klinsmann said. “So, for us it’s a great opportunity to finish off the year, a special year in 2013, hopefully with a good result.”