SOCCER: U.S., Scotland play to 0-0 draw
GLASGOW — Zero goals didn’t mean Jurgen Klinsmann saw nothing good out of his U.S. squad.
Instead, in the second half of a 0-0 draw with Scotland in an exhibition game Friday in Glasgow, Klinsmann liked much of what he saw.
The Americans had several strong scoring chances in the final minutes, thanks to substitutes Aron Johansson and Brek Shea.
“The first half I didn’t like, too slow, not determined enough, not pushing enough,” the U.S. coach said. “We kind of corrected some things in the second half and we looked much better.
“In the second half, players came on and they want to prove a point. Brek brought a lot of energy to the field, he can surprise some people. He can create something out of nothing.”
“He is still kind of fresh to our team, getting more comfortable and in the groove,” Klinsmann said, “and I think you see his qualities that he has. It is just important to see he has the confidence, the qualities to step it up. It is nice to watch.”
This was the first game for the U.S. since completing qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The U.S. team, ranked 13th in the world after winning CONCACAF qualifying, finishes its 2013 schedule Tuesday at Austria. Scotland, ranked 35th, did not qualify for Brazil 2014.
Johansson, whose goal beat Panama in the last match of qualifying, was part of two late threats. In the 83rd, with Jozy Altidore keeping the ball alive in front of the Scotland net, Johansson pounced on the left side. Goalkeeper David Marshall made a diving stop. Two minutes later, Shea broke down left wing and fed Johansson, whose left-footed shot went just wide.
“Sometimes late in games it starts to open up,” he said, “and I think I took advantage of that and got a few chances.”
Beyond that and several misses by Altidore, there wasn’t much to the American attack. Still, Tim Howard got his 34th career shutout for the national team.
“I think away from home, we were resilient and got a draw,” Howard said. “It’s still a good result for us. “
The Americans are 16-3-3 under Klinsmann this year and 29-9-7 overall with Klinsmann as coach.
The Americans were sloppy throughout the first half, which Scotland controlled until the final minutes. Even when the U.S. was presented with a scoring chance in the 43rd minute, Altidore misplayed a pass in the box and never got off a shot.
Scotland, which twice beat Croatia in World Cup qualifying — the Croatians are in a playoff with Iceland for a spot at Brazil 2014 — established a slow tempo.
Craig Conway had the best chance in the 36th from close range on a setup by Steven Fletcher. But Conway’s right-footed shot went wide of Howard’s net.
The Americans looked smoother early in the second half as the paced picked up. Altidore’s right-footed shot off a nice passing combination was caught by Marshall. Altidore also missed wide from close range in the 59th. When Scotland went back on attack, Howard was forced to make a spectacular save on Robert Snodgrass. Marshall matched it with his sprawling stop on Johansson.
Midfielder Michael Bradley returned for the U.S. after missing four qualifiers with an ankle sprain. He played the entire match. The Americans were missing two key injured players — Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.