USMNT Report: A Second Chance in Austria

The Americans get another shot to perform well abroad in Vienna
by Herb Scribner   |   Tuesday, November 19, 2013

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

The United States Men’s National Team didn’t receive much praise for its recent scoreless draw with Scotland on Friday.

But the Americans will have a chance to silent the critics later today when they tangle with Austria in Vienna. Given how USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann’s side competed on Friday, some extra firepower and aggression will be needed to avoid another poor result.

And being this will be the USA’s last match of 2013, the Yanks will certainly be looking to close out the year in a stylish and winning fashion.

THE ROAD TO NOW: After qualifying for the 2014 World Cup officially in September and helping rival Mexico qualify in October, the Americans returned to action on Friday to face Scotland. Neither side played very well in the 0-0 draw, with the best USA chances coming in the second half thanks to the substitutes that found their way to the pitch.

PRE-GAME CHATTER: US goalkeeper Tim Howard has an opportunity to earn his 53rd win in a USA jersey today, which would put him on equal footing with Kasey Keller. He is looking for the USA to come out and get that win.

“I believe if you draw a game and win the next one it becomes a really good week. We’re going to Austria, another tough game away from home. If we can get the victory and end on a high, everybody’s going to feel really good.”

Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, who disappeared in the Scotland match, said there were some positives to take away for the looming Austria match.

“We created some chances, did some alright to good things when we had the ball in possession, but the key was the tempo. If we raise the tempo a little bit by moving off the ball a lot more, find those players in between the gaps and play quicker, it would help our game.”

ANALYSIS: Today’s match will show us how the United States wants to be remembered when people reflect on 2013.

All of the success garnered in the beginning of the year – from the Gold Cup triumph to qualifying for the World Cup ahead of the pack – has made 2013 a positive year in many eyes. Casual fans especially have reveled in the Americans’ accolades, creating a perception that this team can be successful at the 2014 World Cup. Whether or not that’s true is a different story.

But there’s a lot of work to be done, and it starts with Austria. Last Friday’s 0-0 affair with Scotland was a buzzkill for a flying high USA. Not only was the game scoreless, but it was plucked dry of anything interesting. Today’s game offers the USA a chance to redeem itself and segue into 2014 on a encouraging note.

Some of the positives from the Scotland match came when Mix Diskerud, Brek Shea and Aron Johannsson sparked the USA in the second half. Whether it was fresh legs or not, the trio did bring a more creative flair than the men they replaced. It’d be good to see them start against Austria, and come out with urgency.

There’s no reason for the United States to hang back and defend in this game. Klinsmann is likely trying to get his team adjusted to the 4-2-3-1 formation, which is fine as it’ll offer the team some order among the chaos (seen by the continuing shifting of players’ positions).

Luckily for the USA, Austria will be missing two prime players in Phillip Hosiner and Julian Baumgartlinger, who is out with an injury. Hosiner is usually a staple for the Austrians, and he’s successful at the club level with 29 goals last season of Austria Vienna en route to winning Austria’s league. But Austria manager Marcel Koller opted to keep Hosiner off the roster due to his poor form in recent weeks. The broken USA backline, made mostly of natural midfielders, caught a break.

But the USA will still have to contend with a strong Austrian midfield, which includes David Alaba of Bayern Munich and Marko Arnautovic of Stoke City. The Austrian defense, too, is stacked high with strong players, which could limit the amount of chances for the USA, especially if they don’t come out attacking and stay as slow and drone-like as they did on Friday.

It’s true 2013 has been a winning year for the United States. From the low points of a Sporting News article to holding Mexico’s fate in their hands, the Americans have had a rollercoaster ride of a year. To fizzle out at the end with two poor performances will only hinder the reputation 2013 has in the future.

For pundits, fans and casuals alike to look back at the USA’s run in 2013 as positive and worthwhile, the Americans will have to find success in Vienna.

NEXT UP: November 19 – United States vs. Austria, Ernst-Happel-Stadin, Vienna, Austria. 2:45 p.m. EST, NBC Sports Network.

Herb SCRIBNER

Nationality:
USA
College:
UMass Amherst
Club Domestic:
RSL
Club Foreign:
FC Barcelona
SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.
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