Your Classic “Win-Win” Situation
Guess what he just did?
Yesterday was a pretty good day here at The Tanner Ba’. It began with a much needed win by Scotland against Australia and continued with a history making win by the United States against Mexico in the urine hurricane that is Azteca Stadium. Given that both of these “friendlies” produced some important outcomes- and how often can you say that?- I thought I’d offer a few words on both, starting with last night’s match between the United States and Mexico.
- I’m not sure what to do with this “thought,” but did anyone else think that the patchwork back line put together by Jurgen Klinsmann last night looked as good or better than any “starting four” we’ve seen in recent memory? I’m not saying that people like Carlos Bocanegra or Clarence Goodson needs to look for other work, but there should certainly now be some pressure on them to hold their places and that is always good.
- If you could name five goalkeepers in the world better than Tim Howard before last night’s match, I bet you can’t now. My list would start with Iker Casillas, Tim Howard, and go on from there.
- Terrence Boyd: It was okay to doubt him last year when Klinsmann gave him a cap while he was still playing in Germany’s fourth division, but he’s lighting it up for Rapid Vienna early on this season and last night it was his clever back heel that led to Orozco Fiscal’s tap in for the winning goal.
- Here’s the best thing about last night: The U.S. team that beat Mexico last night was, at best, the “B” squad. Think about it, other than Edu, Donovan (who only played a half), and Howard how many other players on the roster would you consider 100% “locks” to be part of World Cup qualification?
- I’m not going to put blinders on when it comes to Jurgen Klinsmann’s job performance, but as we move deeper into his tenure as national team coach the more it becomes clear that his plan is working. Specifically, three things. First, use friendlies to look at as many players as possible. Second, take risks- like he did with last night’s line-up and tactics. Finally, play the best teams you can as often as you can. That last one has produced historic wins over Italy and Mexico in the last year and that is significant.
He might just be the real deal.
- 22 year old Jordan Rhodes (above) led Huddersfield Town with 40 goals last season- which brought his total to 71 in 122 matches for the club. He also scored 8 goals in 8 matches during qualification for the 2013 U21 European Championship- including one against the Netherlands. He was called up to the full national team last November and almost scored in injury time (he was an 87th minute sub) against Cyprus. Yesterday he made his first start and scored Scotland’s first goal in a 3-1 over Australia at Easter Road in Edinburgh. If he proves to be the “real deal” he may be the player who starts Scotland on the road back to respectability.
- Scotland’s other goal (the third was an Australian own goal) came from 25 year old Ross McCormack. McCormack has been a proven goal scorer at the Championship level (Cardiff City and Leeds United) and he is off to a good start with two goals in his first 8 Scotland matches.
- Australia- ranked 22 spots above Scotland by FIFA- may have turned in a thoroughly mediocre performance, but after being embarrassed by the USMNT recently it was just the kind of pick-me-up Scotland needed. Speaking of that loss to the U.S., manager Craig Levein made eight changes to the squad that faced Australia.
- The only downer on the day was what appears to be a moderate to serious groin issue to first choice goalkeeper Allan McGregor. The good news is that substitute Matt Gilks came on in the 22nd minute and made a few spectacular saves which kept Scotland in the match until the offense could get in gear. Hopefully McGregor or the also-injured Craig Gordon will be back in the fold in time for World Cup qualification.