The continuing emergence of midfielder Alejandro Bedoya has helped the United States to a record-breaking year in 2013. (Photo: Mexsport)
VIENNA, Austria -- Regardless what transpires in its last international match of the year against host Austria on Tuesday, the United States will finish 2013 with its best single-season record.
The Americans, who qualified for a seventh consecutive World Cup and captured their first CONCACAF Gold Cup title since 2007, moved to 16-3-3 following a scoreless draw at Scotland last Friday. The impressive victory total is already a team high for a calendar year.
“I think away from home we were resilient, and we got a draw," said goalkeeper Tim Howard. "It’s not the end of the world. It’s still a good result for us. I believe if you draw a game and win the next one it becomes a really good week. We’re going to Austria, another tough game away from home. If we can get the victory and end on a high, everybody’s going to feel really good.”
After playing a solid game defensively, the U.S. meets the Austrians at Ernst-Happel-Stadion with hopes of finding the back of the net.
“We created some chances, did some alright to good things when we had the ball in possession, but the key was the tempo," midfielder Alejandro Bedoya said of the Scotland encounter. "If we raise the tempo a little bit by moving off the ball a lot more, find those players in between the gaps and play quicker, it would help our game.”
While these end of the year friendlies have nothing to do with qualifying for or winning a competition, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is using these games to see fresh faces as he begins to evaluate a potential 23-man roster for Brazil next year.
Forward Aron Johnannsson, who scored an 11th-hour goal in the 3-2 comeback win at Panama in World Cup qualifying last month, came on for Sacha Kljestan in the 62nd minute against the Scots. He forced goalkeeper David Marshall to make a save in the 83rd minute and powered another try wide of the net two minutes later.
"He’s still fresh to our team, he’s getting more and more comfortable in the group, and I think you see the qualities that he has," Klinsmann said. "It’s good to see that process. Now, if we want to do that from the beginning or as a sub, it’s important to see that he has the confidence, the qualities to step it up. It’s really nice to watch.”
The U.S. and Austria will be meeting for a third-ever time. At the 1990 FIFA World Cup finals in Italy, Austria won 2-1 on goals by Andeas Ogis and Gerhard Rodax. Eight years later, the Americans emerged with a 3-0 victory in one of their final matches before the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Frankie Hejduk, Brian McBride and Claudio Reyna each struck in the second half.