USMNT Report: Year Ends With a Whimper

The USMNT’s mostly successful year fizzles out with 1-0 loss to Austria
by Herb Scribner   |   Wednesday, November 20, 2013

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

What a year.

From a Sporting News article that nearly tore the team apart to success in World Cup qualifying and the Gold Cup, the United States Men’s National Team has been on a rollercoaster ride of a year.

And on Tuesday, the Americans finished out with a 1-0 loss to Austria.

Though the USA showed flashes of hope in the later stages of the game, poor play dominated the contest, which showed the Americans still have work to do before the 2014 World Cup.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Geoff Cameron – Though he failed at points during the game, his positioning and marking through the game warrant him MOTM honors. He was composed and strong at multiple points through the match, and was clearly the best defender for the USA. Cameron almost scored a goal on a shot that many said made the ball pass the goal line. It may make sense now for Klinsmann to move Cameron permanently to the rightback spot, where Cameron plays at the club level.

ANALYSIS: Not much changed between last Friday’s 0-0 draw with Scotland and Tuesday’s loss to Austria. Some lineup changes occurred, but the style of play remained the same.

One of the criticisms former USMNT manager Bob Bradley received was the USA’s continued slow starts. At points during Klinsmann’s run, the USMNT has started off hot and succeeded at taking the lead early. But mostly the Americans have gotten off to slow starts, and this troubled them today against Austria.

Some players proved problematic for the USA against Austria, too. Alejandro Bedoya, Jermaine Jones and John Brooks all created issues throughout the game. Brooks is still young and can develop, seeing as he’s only 18 and he’s playing in the high-skill Bundesliga. But Jones is a hothead and offers too many bad giveaways. He and Michael Bradley don’t play well together, as seen against Austria with the mixed play they presented.

Once again, Klinsmann’s subs provided some spark and made the United States a lot more dynamic in the second half. Mix Diskerud, Eddie Johnson and Terrence Boyd created a lot of opportunities, and served the roles they’ll likely have next summer. Fast, quick and offensively aggressive, Mix, EJ and Boyd are three players the USA would do well to have come off the bench against World Cup caliber teams.

But this loss shows trouble for the United States moving forward, especially when considering other World Cup teams. The backline was often stretched thin, and Brooks, Omar Gonzalez and DaMarcus Beasley made too many mistakes to contend with the Portugals, Argentinas and even the Croatias of the world. Beasley made too many runs forward, which led to those positions getting exposed on the counterattack. Though Gonzalez defended and marked well a different points in the game, overall he still needs to solidify himself as a capable centerback.

And part of the reason Beasley and Cameron in this game had to make attacking runs was because there was no real playmaker for the USA. Aron Johannsson tried to fit that role in the opening minutes, and he did set up Jozy Altidore well during the game at times. But he’s a target striker, and he can’t be playing in the midfield.

Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Graham Zusi, Fabian Johnson and (maybe) Brad Davis are meant to fill that attacking playmaker role. It shows how poor the USA can be when these players are out of the lineup, since virtually no plays were created from anyone besides Michael Bradley, who wasn’t successful in the offense.

It was good for Klinsmann to start building for the future, but he should be trying to secure the present. There are more pressing matters, like whether or not the backline can’t be comfortable with each other and build chemistry. And there’s barely any telling where the majority of USMNT players are actually going to play since Klinsmann has slotted them in different roles over the last year.

With the likely MLS training camp in January, Klinsmann only has a few more months to secure his side and get his roster set for the World Cup. He can take away the positives found in these matches – like how Diskerud and Johannsson played at points – and assess what needs to happen next for the USA to reach its fullest potential for the upcoming World Cup.

It’s been a great year for the USA, record and statistics-wise. The Americans have succeeded in the eyes of many, and Klinsmann got the results he was looking for.

That may be enough for now. But if the Austrian loss and the Scottish draw were indicators of anything, it was that the USMNT, this time filled with a lot of potential starters and many reserve players, are below the sub-par and decent European sides.

The year 2013 may be commended and honored as a successful one. But if these latest draws showed us anything, it’s very likely – much more likely – that 2014 will be an incredible disappointment and failure if the right players aren’t chosen.

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


UMass Amherst
Club Domestic:
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.