U.S. Crushes Scotland 5-1 Behind Landon Donovan Hat Trick
Welcome back, Landy Cakes
It should be no surprise that the main draw from the first of five matches in 18 days is Donovan’s return. Donovan had not played for the national team since last September but showed no rust in an all-around dominating performance, shaking off any notion that the U.S.’s all-time leading scorer lost a step. He worked very well with Jermaine Jones and the rest of the midfield (more on them to come), particularly on counterattacks and applying pressure to Scotland’s defense. The prospect of seeing Donovan in peak form paired with Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore for the next four matches is exciting.
Michael Bradley continues to dominate
Remember the good ol’ days when Bradley’s spot in the starting lineup was suspect due to his father’s “nepotism?” Well, as if his phenomenal performance against Italy last February was not enough, Bradley showed again that he is a critical cog in the U.S. soccer machine, and perhaps the most indispensable player save Dempsey. He made all the right moves -- the right passes, holding the ball when he should have, playing passing lanes and firing shots when appropriate, resulting in a wonder goal (see below). Inter Milan is reportedly interested in acquiring the 24-year-old midfielder who currently plays for Chievo Verona. Head coach Jürgen Klinsmann properly exercised his new authority to test out players to find the best for the team and his system. After a couple of games as a substitute, it’s clear: Bradley is here to stay.
Midfield controls match
In conjunction with Bradley, Jones and Maurice Edu formed a killer trio in the midfield. Jones turned in his best-played match since the Gold Cup Quarterfinals against Jamaica last June, having a hand in four of the five goals, including scoring once. Edu was his typically solid self, not advancing as much as Bradley and Jones. Near the first half’s end, Edu performed a brilliant tackle to break up Scotland’s last offensive threat. Great stuff from the three men in the middle.
Scotland is not a terrible side -- it is 48th in the FIFA rankings -- but it’s not a top-tier national team in the world. Outside of the first five minutes, the U.S. dominated the whole match. It was a definite positive to see such a dominating performance from the U.S. in any capacity. The senior team has not scored that many goals since the 2008 match against Cuba in a 6-1. (The goalscorers? DaMarcus Beasley with a brace along with Donovan, Altidore, Oguchi Onyewu and Brian Ching adding one each.) Overall, a great showing from the A-team.
-- Geoff Cameron had a cross deflect off his stomach, resulting in the U.S.’s only allowed goal of the night. After that, he was composed the rest of the night.
-- Terrence Boyd looked comfortable playing up top. He had a few good chances, none of which resulting in goals, but scoring was obviously not a concern on the evening. A few more games will acclimate him to the speed of international matches.
-- Herculez Gomez, who tore up the Mexican League this season, made an appearance as a substitute and was active despite no chances on goal.
-- As Kyle Martino said on tonight’s broadcast, the starting left-back job is Fabian Johnson’s to lose. He built upon strong performances during the friendlies in January and February. Wait a sec… Does this mean no more Jonathan Bornstein?
The U.S. will play Brazil on May 30 at 5 p.m. PDT.