No wins and no goals from 180 minutes against second-tier European competition, but no big worries in the big picture.
That was the message from Jurgen Klinsmann and the US national team on Tuesday as they pronounced themselves pleased with their 10-day European camp despite a 1-0 loss to Austria in Vienna.
“It was an intensive match with a lot of chances for both side,” said striker Terrence Boyd, who worked hard in a 23-minute substitute's role in the city where he plays his club soccer. “It was a good test for us going to Brazil, we knew they were going to be tough opponent.
“It's all right, they won, but still I think we did a good job. We worked hard.”
Perhaps it was easier for the Yanks to feel encouraged in comparison to the grinding display they put forward in Glasgow five days beforehand in a 0-0 draw with Scotland. But from the coach on down, good vibes prevailed at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion and at the end of one of the best years in their program's existence, that was enough for the USA.
“It was a good 10 days. It was interesting to see the players compete in training as well, obviously, in the two games,” Klinsmann said after the final whistle. “Tonight a lot of positives to see: I would say both center backs, Omar [Gonzalez] and John [Brooks], had a very, very good game there. Other elements of the game looked good as well.
“We lacked wing play, on both wings we didn't develop enough clear creation of chances, and also here and there in central midfield, especially the first half, we had a couple of incidents that were not as good as we expect. But overall both games, if you summarize them, it was good.You learn a lot about the guys when you are in camp and we don't have that many opportunities any more.”
The U.S. Soccer Federation's official match report took care to note that even with Tuesday's defeat, 2013 as a whole featured record-breaking figures in the win total, winning percentage, goal differential and goals-per-game average categories. There was a similarly valedictory tone to the USMNT's postgame remarks.
“I'm just honored to be part of this big group that is just doing a great job throughout the whole year at the club and at international level,” Boyd said. “We bring our pride for the country in every game. So yeah, the most successful year in history – we just have to keep thinking positive and it's going to be a good year in 2014.”
Behind closed doors, Klinsmann will surely have some words of correction for several members of his squad who showed moments of blunder and poor judgment that could be ruthlessly punished in the high-stakes battles ahead. But after pushing through a long and largely successful year, the group sounds eager to get on the plane to Brazil instead of waiting another six months.
“A positive year for sure,” said midfield general Michael Bradley. “The most important thing was qualifying for the World Cup. We took care of that. A group of guys were able to come together for a month during the Gold Cup and win, which is very positive, and still some very good results in friendlies. So now we look back with pride for sure, but now we all know that the real stuff is still to come.”