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Halftime thoughts from United States - Scotland

us soccer

Jurgen Klinsmann’s team leads 2-1 in Jacksonville. It’s halftime. Read quickly ... quench that thirst ... then get back in your seat!

  • That is a hyper-confident U.S. team out there. The Klinsi Factor at work?
  • The formation is a modified 4-3-3. The midfield is a 4-3-3-type triangle, but Jose Torres is tucked inside along the left, while Landon Donovan is in a more traditional wide role on the right.
  • So far, the United States has a good sense of when to pressure as a team and when to back off and organize. It’s a subtle little element, but quite important.
  • A check-plus on “entertainment factor” so far.
  • Michael Bradley looks fantastic so far. He’s a tackling beast, finding the defensive passing lanes and quick on the pass with the ball. If he’s missed more than one or two connections, I’d be surprised. My Man of the Match so far ... by a long way.
  • Don’t underestimate his contribution on the early goal, seizing the initiative on the Scots’ turnover by transitioning quickly into offensive position and moving the ball forward into Landon Donovan at the earliest opportunity.
  • On Donovan’s goal, that’s a real finisher’s finish. Three Scottish defenders get positions behind their goalkeeper, making the point-blank rebound a tougher ball to slot in than it seems. His experience is the difference here; Donovan doesn’t just bang the ball hard, he lifts it, surely providing the best chance to find its way past the Scots guarding goal.
  • Klinsmann has put a lot of emphasis on comprehensive fitness; now see why. Playing high pressure takes a lot of stamina. Plus, he wants players constantly interchanging offensively, and that takes lots of leg work, too.
  • Michael Bradley’s 13th minute goal was surely the best U.S. effort I’ve seen in some time -- a great sequence followed by an utterly sublime finish. Honestly, I can’t think of one any better off the top of my head. (There have certainly been more important goals; I’m talking about quality and “wow” factor.
  • Jose Torres is everything you might have expected in terms of possession, but he is also pretty reliable in defensive tracking. It’s been a good half for the man at a time of such grand opportunity.
  • Every now and then, we’re reminded that Geoff Cameron is still a bit of a newbie at center back. Yes, he’s got a decent amount of experience at the position at league level, but his natural instincts in the position have yet to mature, and it nips at his butt occasionally at the highest level.
  • About Donovan and all this lost fire and desire: is the man playing possum? Looks plenty fired up to me.
  • I suspect we’ll see Herculez Gomez or Chris Wondolowski at some point in the second half for Terrence Boyd. They’ll need to work their Uncle Sam off to match Boyd’s spry work rate. He’s really embracing this opportunity.