U.S. Lose to Austria, 1-0, But Tries to Focus on Positives
A record-setting year for U.S. soccer ended on a down note, but the coach and players found some positives in the wake of a 1-0 loss to Austria. Brian Sciaretta reports from Vienna.
BY Brian Sciaretta PostedVIENNA—The United States men's soccer team won when it mattered—in the Hexagonal and throughout the Gold Cup—but failed to close out 2013 with a victory. After a scoreless draw against Scotland on Friday, the Americans fell to Austria, 1-0, on Tuesday. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann made three changes to the starting lineup he used against Scotland. John Brooks started at central defense and Geoff Cameron moved to right back for Brad Evans. Aron Johannsson played the role Sacha Kljestan had at the top of the midfield, and Brek Shea earned the start after an effective performance off the bench last week. The United States struggled with its touch early and Austrian dominated possession. The home side nearly moved on top in the 10th minute when Marc Jenko slid a pass across the goal mouth but no one was there to tap it home. In the 15th minute the U.S came to life with a series of chances. It started with Jozy Altidore hitting a shot from 19 yards that was just wide of the left post. One minute later, Johannsson shot forced a save. On the ensuing corner kick the U.S appeared to have been denied a goal when Cameron's header was knocked out of the net by Robert Almer. Replays suggested that the ball crossed the line. "From my angle when I headed it, I looked to the left and thought it was inside the post," Cameron said. "What can you do?" Klinsmann elected to make a broader point about the sequence. "It's a friendly game so I'm not going to make a big deal about it," Klinsmann said. "But I'm still asking why we're in 2013 and do not have goal line technology. It's just a joke." After the flurry of chances for the Americans, Austria once regained the edge in possession. In the 33rd minute, they took the lead when David Alba fed the ball out wide to Gyorgy Garics. His low cross skipped past Brooks and Marc Janko fired it home past a helpless Tim Howard into the top of the goal. In the 43rd minute, the U.S. had another chance when Altidore got behind the Austrian defense in the box. His cross from the right side found Michael Bradley whose shot was deflected close to the goal and was eventually cleared. "There's always things to work on," Bradley said. "I didn't think we gave away a whole lot. We had some good chances in both halves. When you play good teams, it's going to be an exercise who is going to be able to take care of certain plays in front of both goals." Austria opened the second half with another good chance. Martin Harnik appeared to be offsides on a through ball but the flag stayed down. His shot from the left side narrowly went wide of the far post. It wouldn't be until the 74th minute when the U.S team would get another decent chance to score when Cameron's cross found its way to Altidore. He took a step into the middle of the box but his shot was saved by Almer. For Cameron it was one of his final plays of the night, and he was pleased with his effort. He did not believe the loss halted the momentum of a successful year. "I felt comfortable," Cameron said. "I felt Alejandro and I had a pretty good understanding. Defensively we knew what we had to do. Offensively I told him to push on so I could get forward and tuck in a little bit. I thought we had some good play on the outside. I thought we played much better than we did against Scotland. We had a majority of the play and the opportunities." "We were unfortunate not to put them away," he added. In injury time, United States had two more chances. The first came when Altidore's free kick from 25 yards out flew wide of the near post. The second came just a minute later when a deflection appeared to hit an Austrian defender on the arm. Altidore's appeal for a handball was denied and instead he was whistled for the foul. Minutes later, the referee blew his whistle and the game was over. "Overall we picked up the pace as the game went on," Klinsmann said. "We pushed and pushed. A bit of quality was missing to finish it off. It was a good 10 days and it was interesting to see the players in training. I think a lot of positives were to be seen. I would say both center backs, Omar and John, had a very, very good game." "I think in both wings we didn't develop enough clear creation of chances," Klinsmann added. "Also in central midfield, especially in the first half, we had a couple of instances that were not as good as we expect. But overall both games, if you summarize them, wer good. You learn a lot about guys when you are in camp. You don't have many opportunities anymore." Next up for the U.S. will be the annual January camp, which is set to open in early January and conclude with one or two friendlies. More importantly, in just a few weeks the U.S. will learn its opponents for the 2014 World Cup. The draw takes place on December 6th in Salvador, Brazil. The results of the final two friendlies were disappointing but for many of the players, the momentum is still there heading into a World Cup year. "Coming into this year, the most important goal was qualifying for the World Cup and we took care of that in a good way," Bradley said. "There was a group of guys that came together for the Gold Cup and got a good win. We had some friendlies against some very good teams." "It was a good year for us but the most important is yet to come."
November 20, 2013
November 20, 2013