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Direct from scotland

Subs Sparkle as U.S. Plays Scotland to 0-0 Draw

It wasn't the prettiest of performances, but Friday's scoreless draw with Scotland may have given Jurgen Klinsmann a few clues as to who merits inclusion on his 2014 World Cup squad.

BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
November 15, 2013
10:05 PM
GLASGOW—On a cold night at Hampden Park, the United States got off to a sluggish start and never fully recovered, playing Scotland to a fairly dull scoreless draw.

It was the first trip to Scotland for the United States since 2005 when it played to a 1-1 draw. The home team, on the other hand, came in with motivation to avenge a 5-1 loss in the last meeting in Jacksonville in 2012.

The Americans were missing significant components in their attack due to injuries to Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Fabian Johnson. Instead, Alejandro Bedoya, Sacha Kljestan, and Eddie Johnson were given the chance in the midfield.

For the first 10 minutes, Scotland controlled possession but the U.S. weathered the initial storm.

While the Americans gradually improved in the first half, Scotland created the better chances. In the 24th minute, an Omar Gonzalez foul gave Scotland a dangerous free kick from 19 yards out, but Charlie Mulgrew shot over the bar. In the 36th minute, a defensive breakdown gave Scotland's Craig Conway a golden opportunity but he missed wide on his near-post shot.

The second half opened with no changes and once again Scotland came out with better chances.

In the 53rd minute Scotland nearly took the lead when Steven Whittaker dribbled through the American defense, evading Jermaine Jones only to be fouled by Geoff Cameron. On the ensuing free kick, Richard Snodgrass struck the ball beautifully from 30 yards and forced Howard into making a sprawling save to push the ball over the net.

"I think Scotland had a couple of good chances and we had Timmy Howard," Klinsmann said.

One minute later, it appeared that Scotland had earned a penalty on an apparent hand ball by Omar Gonzalez. Instead, Scotland had to settle for a corner kick which came to nothing.

As the second half moved on, the Americans pushed forward and began to have the better of the opportunities for the remainder of the game.

"The first half I didn't like," Klinsmann said. "It was too slow - not determined enough, not urgent enough. We kind of corrected a couple of things at half time. It looked much better in the second half. We played out of the back, but not with urgency."

The tide shifted in the 59th minute, and the United States had their best chance of the game when Geoff Cameron made a run into the attack out of central defense. He fed Altidore in the middle but the Sunderland forward's powerful shot missed just wide.

In the 76th minute, the Americans were denied a penalty call when second-half substitute Brek Shea sent in a cross that hit Alan Hutton's hand inside the box.

"I think Brek brought a lot of energy into the field and did well," Klinsmann said. "He can surprise people, he can create something out of nothing. We're glad to have him back."

For Shea, it was a relief to be back with the U.S team after a season a Stoke where he has not played for the club.

"It's been a frustrating season so far - picking up an injury in the last game of preseason" Shea said. "Since then I haven't had a chance to really get games. I feel I definitely have something to contribute."

In the 82nd minute, the Americans launched off a Gonzalez clearance that found its way to Aron Johannsson who narrowly missed a feed to Altdiore. Johannsson, who was very dangerous after coming on in the 62nd, nearly gave the Americans a lead two minutes later when his low, driving shot was saved by David Marshall.

"He's still kind of fresh to our team," Klinsmann said of Johannsson. "He's getting more and more comfortable with our group. I think you see his qualities that he has. Therefore, it's good to see that process. It's just important to see that he has confidence and the qualities to step it up. It's just nice to watch."

Altidore, who knows Johannsson better than anyone else on the U.S team after the two were teammates last season at AZ Alkmaar, believes Johannsson will have a big impact on the U.S team moving forward.

"You can see from his touch he is so comfortable in tight areas," Altidore said. "He's such a clever player and creates for others and himself. The game opened up when he came on."

Just three minutes later, Shea beat his man on the left side and made a crisp pass to Johannsson inside the box, but the Icelandic-American wasted the opportunity, missing wide.

That opportunity was the last chance for either team and the final whistle blew after just two minutes of injury time.

"Overall I think it was a fair result," Klinsmann said. "I think we also created enough chances towards the end to score and maybe get away with a win. Overall I liked the improvements in the second half. I liked the higher the tempo, the rhythm."

It was a mixed result for the U.S. squad that was looking to build momentum heading into the World Cup year. After a poor start, Klinsmann's team began to control the game and it will now look to carry the second-half momentum into Tuesday's friendly against Austria in Vienna.

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