Landon Donovan Hat Trick Powers United States Past Scotland
The United States national soccer team is peaking just in time for the World Cup qualifying.
Landon Donovan scored a hat trick in his much-awaited return to the pitch, powering the United States to a 5-1 win over Scotland and extending the Americans' winning streak to four games.
"It was nice to be back," Donovan said, who hasn't played since September due to fatigue, injuries and illness.
Donovan's return proved very timely for the Americans, preparing for World Cup qualifying.
Donovan's scoring ability is needed since the U.S. team is still missing the services of two of its best offensive players. Donovan is the team's career scoring leader with 49 goals in 139 appearances.
Jozy Altidore has not yet been released by AZ Alkmaar for international duty while Clint Dempsey is still recovering from a groin injury.
The Americans have a tough grind ahead. After a match against Brazil Wednesday, they will play another exhibition Sunday at Canada.
Following those games, the United States will open World Cup qualifying with a home game against Antigua and Barbuda on June 8 and an away match against Guatemala on June 12.
"For us, this summer is about moving ourselves along one game at a time and raising our level each game," Michael Bradley said. "For the first game there were some good things, but now we have to improve as each game comes along."
The United States took control of the exhibition match early with Donovan and Bradley scoring in the first 12 minutes.
"Obviously, we are very pleased with how things went tonight," said coach Jurgen Klinsmann. "It was a wonderful start with two early goals. I think we set the tone and the team really kept the rhythm. Throughout the entire game we kept the tempo going, the energy was high, we saw some wonderful goals."
The Americans allowed a Scots goal in the 14th minute but bounced back in the 60th and 65th minute with two Donovan goals.
"Landon is a good soccer player," Bradley said. "So when he's on the field, he makes guys around him better. He's easy to play with. There's no doubt that we're a much better team when he's on the field."
The Americans completed the rout in the 69th minute with a goal from midfielder Jermaine Jones. When the final whistle sounded, the American players left to a standing ovation from the crowd of 44,438.
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