The US national team was philosophical in the wake of its 1-0 loss to Austria in the final match of a record-setting 2013 on Tuesday, a friendly setback head coach Jurgen Klinsmann deemed “no big deal.”
But that doesn't mean Klinsmann didn't take note of the Geoff Cameron header that caromed off Marko Arnautovic's hand before it appeared to cross the goal line, only for the officiating crew to wave play on in a controversial first-half sequence that would have given his side an early lead.
“We controlled the game, I think we had chances for probably three or four games to win,” Klinsmann told reporters in Vienna. “The ball didn't end up in the net and when it was in the net, then it was either not seen by the linesman or the handball that was connected to it was also not seen...
"Yeah, it's a friendly game, so I'm not going to make a big deal out of it, but I'm still asking why we're in 2013 and [do] not have goal-line technology. It's just a joke. Overall, I think we picked up the pace the longer the game went on, pushed and pushed, but the last bit of quality was missing in order to finish it off.”
Klinsmann's frustration was moderated by the fact that this loss was a relatively meaningless one at the tail end of a year in which the USA won nearly all the games they needed to. That allowed him and his players to wax philosophical about their second consecutive barren outing in front of goal.
“The ball just didn't want to go in the net,” striker Jozy Altidore told reporters. “I think we had enough chances, myself included. We just had to be a little bit nastier in front of the goal. So it's one of those games where we just couldn't find that equalizer, but all in all, I thought everybody saw who the better team was. We dominated the game.”
Showing more fluidity than they did in last Friday's bland 0-0 draw with Scotland, the visitors carved out several good looks against a well-organized Austrian side and forced goalkeeper Robert Almer to make four saves. But they had to concede that their finishing was not up to the higher standards they are seeking to reach between now and next summer's World Cup.
“I don't know, we have to be just calmer at the end – before we take the shot, just be calm in the moment,” said Terrence Boyd, who brought a boost of energy when he came off the bench in place of Jermaine Jones in the 67th minute. “But then again, they were back deep in their own half and it was hard to break through. We found our chances and if we made them, it wouldn't be a loss today.”
Midfielder Michael Bradley noted that the contest provided a useful test as the countdown to Brazil 2014 accelerates in the months ahead.
“In all, it was a good game for us,” said Bradley. “Austria are a good team, a team that maybe isn't the biggest name but a young team that now is pushing themselves to get to their next level. I thought the way they played, the pressing, closing down, it made for a really good game – the kind of game that we need.”