By Ridge Mahoney
Improvement after a tepid first half didn’t produce a goal, and the U.S. settled for a 0-0 tie with Scotland Friday night in Glasgow.
The attack obviously suffered without Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, both injured, with Sacha Kljestan playing for the first time in the hole behind striker Jozy Altidore. The back line kept Scotland contained, except for a couple of breakdowns and a superb free kick by Robert Snodgrass that Tim Howard repelled spectacularly.
A game against Austria on Tuesday will close out the 2013 USA schedule.
RATING PLAYER (TEAM GP/G)
6 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG) 95/0. He stonewalled the Scots with a tremendous flying save of a Robert Snodgrass free kick that was arrowing toward the top corner. He kept things tidy and calm for rest of the game, during which he was rarely called upon.
4 Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders) 16/1. Scorched by Snodgrass near the touchline on a couple of occasions, played a poor ball into the middle that led to a Scotland counterattack, which he halted by fouling just outside the U.S. penalty area. Worked up the field a few times to moderate effect. Called for a foul throw, probably incorrectly, but that’s the kind of game it was for him.
6 Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy) 15/0. Carelessly headed a clearance right to Steven Fletcher, who fired high from 15 yards out, but otherwise timed his interventions impeccably while keeping a tight rein on forward Craig Conway. When you can dominate Scotland in the air, you’re doing pretty well, and he also intercepted passes and cleared crosses closer to the ground.
5 Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG) 22/1. He blundered past Snodgrass on a throw-in, allowing Fletcher to breach a disjointed back line and find Conway open for a shot that slid wide. Most of his other decisions were solid and he cleaned up his touches and passing in the second half.
6 DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/MEX) 113/17. Directed a lot of traffic with the ball on his side, tucked in a few times to deny Scotland at the back post. Drove a couple of balls from near the byline that narrowly missed connections. His cross late in the match triggered a scramble from which the Americans nearly stole a winning goal.
5 Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/FRA) 24/1. He brought his usual energy and aggressiveness without much effect. Hustled to win a corner on a ball rolling out of play near the flag and contributed to some promising moves. Decisions on whether to dribble or cross weren’t his best moments. He showed some audacity by winning the ball with a tackle and then back-heeling it to a teammate.
6 Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/GER) 37/2. Quietly, which is a nice change, broke up Scotland attacks while anchoring the middle in support of Michael Bradley. Switched play once to loft a promising ball for Bedoya on the opposite wing, slipped a through ball through the middle toward the edge of the penalty area that Jozy Altidore should have reached. A missed tackle allowed Steven Whittaker to penetrate the attacking third and win a free kick.
7 Michael Bradley (Roma/ITA) 81/11. A strong presence in the U.S. lineup, as always, Bradley also delivered a few threatening corner kicks his teammates were unable to exploit. His dominance in the middle forced Scotland to use the flanks extensively. On a night of several flat performances, Bradley brought his usual assuredness.
4 Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders) 60/19. He got involved only rarely in combination play and seldom powered past opponents into the attacking third. Nifty twist and turn near the left sideline befuddled Alan Hutton. He brought some energy at times and looked a bit more dangerous sliding inside, but his focus and intensity wavered until he was substituted in the 62nd minute.
6 Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/BEL) 44/4. Playing an unfamiliar role in the hole behind a lone striker, he played a nice one-two with Altidore that produced a shot and in the first half ranged wide to funnel a ball up the line for Bedoya. In the second half he dropped into good spots to keep possession as teammates flowed forward. He may not find a defined role on this team but it’s clear head coach Jurgen Klinsmann sees value in his game.
5 Jozy Altidore (Sunderland/ENG) 65/21. He put in the work but was a half-step off with his touch and decisions. Started the second half by swapping passes with Kljestan to belt a right-footed shot right at the keeper. Fought through a tangle to create a shot that was saved and nearly stuffed the ensuing clearance into the net but Grant Hanley intervened to knock the ball off Altidore and over the goal.
6 Brek Shea (Stoke City/ENG) 24/2. His energy and drive propelled the U.S. forward, as when his run and pass produced a chance for Aron Johansson.
5 Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/NOR) 15/2. Not quite as dynamic offensively as in past appearances but looked competent in linkup play.
6 Aron Johansson (AZ/NED) 5/1. Moved sharply and intelligently to unhinge Scotland and get two shots: one sharply saved by the keeper, the other sailing a foot wide.
5 Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG) 9/0. Hard to tell which was more noticeable; his work rate and commitment, or garish Mohawk.
NR Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) 16/6. Didn’t see much of the ball after his 81s- minute entry.
NR Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna/AUS) 11/0. Sub in the last minute.
(1=low; 5=average; 10=high.)