Recap and reaction: Scotland 0–0 USMNT

In a dull game with very few clear-cut goal-scoring chances, the U.S. drew Scotland, o–0. The line-up was relatively familiar, with the only surprise being Sacha Kljestan given a start in the attacking midfield slot. Geoff Cameron lined up next to Omar Gonzalez in the back line, and Eric Lichaj only made the subs bench.

First half

The U.S. threatened inside the first 40 seconds, with Jozy Altidore doing well to take down a long ball from Jermaine Jones and flick it into the box for DaMarcus Beasley to run onto. Beasley’s dangerous centering pass, though, was cleared. Then, in the second minute, Steven Fletcher of Scotland (and Sunderland, where he partners Altidore up top) had a chance to volley from outside the U.S. box, but put it over.

After those early flurries, the game settled down, and it became clear that there would be no five-goal thumping from either side. Scotland was composed on the ball, and seemed the marginally better side offensively in the early going. In the seventh minute, a flighted ball into the box from Scotland’s Barry Bannan fell for Craig Conway to hit, but his half-volley again went over. A little bit of possession outside the U.S. box by Scotland in the 11th minute led to a half-chance header, but Fletcher couldn’t get good contact, and flicked the ball high and wide.

In the 13th, Altidore suffered a foul in midfield. Michael Bradley sent the free kick to the far post, where Gonzalez headed back across goal. Kljestan did smartly to settle the ball for Altidore to volley, but Altidore’s shot screwed high. In the 17th, neat interplay between Brad Evans and Kljestan put Altidore in on the right side of the Scotland box. Altidore tried to center for Eddie Johnson, playing left midfield, but his pass was cut out.

In the 18th, another free kick, taken quickly by Bradley, was sent to the back post, where Altidore took it down on his chest and played it back for Beasley, who’s cross-shot was put out for a corner. On the ensuing kick, the ball fell for Gonzalez to volley, but he missed the ball entirely. The U.S. recycled and it came again to Gonzalez, still in the Scotland box, but his cross was nearly as poor as his shot had been.

With Scotland much improved from the last meeting between the teams, the U.S. was doing well to prevent any chances by the Scots, but weren’t moving the ball fast enough when in possession, resulting in few chances of their own.

In the 33rd, Bedoya did excellently to track down a ball sent too far up the line by Bradley. His sliding save resulted in a U.S. corner. Bradley sent in the corner low to the near post, where Evans flicked it on. Altidore was waiting, but Alan Hutton made the clearance.

In the 36th, Scotland should have gone ahead. A Scottish throw-in was quickly played forward, where Fletcher was sitting between the center backs. His pass into the box put Conway clean through with only Tim Howard to beat, but Conway’s shot was poor, and missed wide.

In the 43rd, Bedoya got behind his fullback and pulled the ball back for Altidore. The ball was slightly behind him, so Altidore cut back. He could have found Johnson in space, but instead cut back again for a shot that was easily blocked.

The half ended without any further chances. Neither team could be particularly pleased with their performance, as both teams seemed more interested in not losing, rather than winning.

Second half

No changes were made by either side at halftime, though six subs per team are allowed in international friendly matches.

The U.S. tried to push the pace a bit to open things up, pressuring Scotland high up the pitch. An early chance put Altidore into the box, but his shot was caught by the Scottish keeper.

While the U.S. was putting Scotland under more pressure, Scotland had the first good chance. In the 53rd, after a Scottish runner was allowed to advance fifty yards without being tackled, Cameron gave up the free kick outside the U.S. box. Robert Snodgrass stepped up and drew a top save from Howard, as the ball whipped toward the upper corner.

In the 59th, a run with the ball out of the back from Cameron released Altidore for a shot, which flew tantalizingly wide.

In the 62nd, Jürgen Klinsmann made his first changes, bringing on Mix Diskerud, Brek Shea, and Aron Johannson, for Johnson, Jones, and Kljestan, changing the formation to 4-4-2. Even with the changes, though, chances came at a premium.

In the 66th. Scotland had a crossing opportunity, but the ball was cleared by Beasley.

In the 72nd, Johannsson did very well up the right side, cutting inside his defender and into the box. Unfortunately, his pass back found no one.

Eric Lichaj then entered the match at right back, replacing Evans.

In the 76th, a U.S. break ended in a corner when a cross from Shea was blocked by the Scottish defender’s hand. The referee gave nothing, and the Scottish keeper caught the resulting ball in.

In the 81st, Chris Wondolowski replaced Bedoya, and stayed wide.

In the 82nd, hard work from Johannsson gave Altidore the ball wide right. Altidore’s centered pass into the box was tempting, but Johannsson just couldn’t get on the end of it. The ball went out for a U.S. throw, which pinged around and fell to Diskerud, who fed Altidore in the box. Altidore couldn’t turn, but the ball was deflected to Johannsson, who’s shot was well saved by Marshall. Altidore pounced on the rebound, but the ball was cleared off his shin and up over the bar. It could have gone anywhere, but ended up a Scotland goal kick.

In the 85th, Shea made a powerful run into the box, got his head up, and cut the ball back for Johannsson. Johannsson took a touch, cut left, and whipped a shot to the far post, missing just wide. Shea did very well to find Johannsson, but might have done better to play in Altidore, who was lurking at the back post.

In the 90th, Terrence Boyd replaced Altidore, but had little time to do anything before the ref blew for full time.

U.S. verdict

Michael Bradley: It’s good to have him back. While not at his best, Bradley is constantly popping up and retaining the ball with calm possession, making timely interceptions, and playing in searching passes trying to make offense. The U.S. has learned to cope without him, but is much better when he plays.

Sacha Kljestan: Kljestan looked pretty good playing in the hole, but one can’t help but think that Jermaine Jones is the main obstacle to Kljestan’s international career, as Kljestan shines playing from a deeper role, and would look better beside Bradley, instead of in front of him.

Brek Shea: Shea looked sharp in his substitute appearance and continues to seem like a very useful impact sub for the U.S. While he hasn’t been playing much in the last few months, he didn’t look rusty, and nearly created a goal.

Aron Johannsson: The U.S. didn’t start to tick over until he came on and his relationship with Altidore is showing promising signs. He could have won the game for the U.S. late on, and it’s clear he needs to be on the plane to Brazil.

Final thoughts

So, a dull game, really. Few players shone, though the substitutes generally looked good. Eddie Johnson looked poor, even disinterested, and will hope to put this game behind him. Eric Lichaj only got 20 minutes to show he’s ready, and didn’t have much opportunity to make an impression either way.

In all, this game felt like the players on either team weren’t very bothered about it. Klinsmann will hope the U.S. brings more energy to the game on Tuesday against Austria.

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Scotland
Nov. 15, 2013
International Friendly
Hampden Park; Glasgow, Scotland
3 p.m. ET
52 degrees, partly cloudy

Scoring Summary

USA: 1-Tim Howard (capt.); 6-Brad Evans (2-Eric Lichaj, 72), 3-Omar Gonzalez, 20-Geoff Cameron, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 4-Michael Bradley, 13-Jermaine Jones (10-Mix Diskerud, 62); 11-Alejandro Bedoya (19-Chris Wondolowski, 81), 16-Sacha Kljestan (9-Aron Johannsson, 62), 18-Eddie Johnson (21-Brek Shea, 62); 17-Jozy Altidore (15-Terrence Boyd, 90)
Subs Not Used:
12-Sean Johnson, 5-John Brooks, 14-Michael Orozco
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

SCO: 1-David Marshall; 2-Alan Hutton, 3-Steve Whittaker (18-Lee Wallace, 69), 4-Grant Hanley, 5-Gordon Greer; 6-Barry Bannan (14-Steven Naismith, 81), 7-Charlie Mulgrew, 8-Scott Brown (capt.), 9-Steven Fletcher; 10-Robert Snodgrass (20-Ross McCormack, 69), 11-Craig Conway (19-Gary MacKay-Steven, 84)
Subs Not Used:
12-Matthew Gilks, 13-James McArthur, 15-Christophe Berra, 16-Charlie Adam, 17-Russell Martin, 21-Scott Fox, 22-Ikechi Anya, 23-Craig Bryson
Head Coach: Gordon Strachan

Stats Summary: USA / SCO
Shots: 6 / 10
Shots on Goal: 2 / 1
Saves: 1 / 2
Corner Kicks: 4 / 4
Fouls: 12 / 5
Offside: 1 / 0


  1. Ed Farnsworth says:

    A Scottish friend direct messaged me from Glasgow, “Aye well, a rainy November friendly. Reasonably dull.” Too right.

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