Tim Howard Keeps the Sheet Clean vs. Scotland
Donovan netted his third career hat trick while collecting yet another National Team record, making his 125th career start and surpassing the previous record of 124 held by Jeff Agoos.
Donovan also added an assist, while Jermaine Jones had a goal and two assists and Michael Bradley delivered a spectacular goal from 25 yards out and collected an assist of his own on Donovan’s third goal.
The U.S. is in the midst of a five-game stretch in 18 days in what head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has approached as a ‘five-game’ tournament with 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying on the horizon. The U.S. next faces five-time FIFA World Cup champion Brazil on Wed., May 30 at 8 p.m. ET at FedExField in Landover, Md. The match will be televised live on ESPN2, ESPN3 and TeleFutura, and fans can follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and via Twitter @ussoccer.
Tickets for USA-Brazil are still on sale at ussoccer.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000 and at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout the Jacksonville area (including many Walmart stores). Groups of 20 or more can obtain an order form at ussoccer.com or call 312-528-1290.
“We are very pleased with the performance tonight,” said Klinsmann. “I think tonight you saw many elements of what we’re always talking about, what we’re trying step by step to develop. It’s a fast-paced game, it has tempo in it. It has one-two touch combinations through our midfielders as fast as possible finding the forwards up there, having pace, build up from the back, no long balls. All those elements I think we saw a lot today. I think we set the tone and the team kept their rhythm throughout the entire game. We kept the tempo going, the energy was high. We saw wonderful goals. For a coach, that’s obviously fun to watch, no doubt about it.”
The USA has won five straight matches dating back to last year’s 3-2 victory against Slovenia on Nov. 15 in Ljubljana, and has an unblemished 4-0-0 record in 2012. The 1998 squad is the only other team in U.S. history to open the year with four wins in its first four games, starting 4-0-0 with victories against Sweden, Cuba, Costa Rica and Brazil.
The five goals scored on Saturday were the most since the USA’s 6-1 victory against Cuba in World Cup qualifying on Oct. 11, 2008, in Washington, D.C.
Scotland was shaky in the opening minutes and the USA pounced on the moment as Donovan tallied a goal off his own rebound in the third minute to give the U.S. a lead they would never relinquish. The U.S. worked the ball left to right with quick-touch passing from Jose Torres to Bradley, who delivered a precision ball to Jones just above the box. Jones saw Donovan to his right just before Scotland’s defense converged, the forward making a quick spin move to create his initial shot, which was jointly saved by Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor and defender Andy Webster. The rebound fell back to Donovan, and he rifled the ball just underneath the crossbar.
Bradley had the most impressive strike of the night, tallying the game-winner with a slicing right-footed laser from 25 yards out that swerved to find the upper right corner and give the U.S. a 2-0 cushion in the 11th minute. Bradley got the timing just right in nailing a half volley off a bouncing layoff from Jermaine Jones in the middle and a stretched-out McGregor made a game effort with no real hope of making the save.
The USA’s surging start was halted by an own goal in the 15th minute. Scotland defender Charlie Mulgrew crossed the ball in from the right side to captain Kenny Miller, who headed the ball at the top of the six-yard box back across the goal. The ball bounced off of U.S. center back Geoff Cameron’s body and rolled into the net to cut the USA’s lead to 2-1.
That proved merely to be a hiccup for the U.S. as the team continued to attack, possess and counter to keep Scotland’s defense busy all night.
Donovan hit the right post in the 50th minute with a rolling left-footed shot across his body after Torres set him up with a slick back heel pass. Donovan dribbled into the penalty area, but his guiding shot was just off the mark.
Donovan’s penchant for goal was consistent all game and he came through with his second goal in the 60th minute, this time off an assist from Jermaine Jones. Jones split a couple of Scotland defenders, his cross from the right corner of the pitch finding Donovan wide open in the box, and he calmly placed a shot in the left side of the goal for a 3-1 lead.
Five minutes later, Donovan notched his third goal and the 49th of his career with Bradley providing the set up. Scotland’s back four tried to push up to get Donovan in an offside position, but Bradley’s precision pass combined with the striker’s perfectly-timed run created the open window for Donovan to complete the hat trick.
Jones capped off the scoring with his second international goal, adjusting to a Donovan cross and heading the ball just inside the right post in the 70th minute for the USA’s fifth of the night.
With the win, the USA improves to 6-4-1 under Klinsmann. U.S. opponents also have yet to directly score a goal this year. The USA opened the year with consecutive1-0 shutouts victories against Venezuela (Jan. 21), Panama (Jan. 25) and Italy (Feb. 29).
The U.S. improved to 2-3-2 all-time against Scotland. The USA’s other victory was a 2-1 win on May 26, 1996, in New Britain, Conn.