U.S. shows growth against Scotland 

May, 27, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- To appreciate what happened in Saturday's friendly, a 5-1 rout of Scotland by the U.S., first look back at the 2010 World Cup squad. All in all, it was a young squad, and that inexperience showed often in the 2010 cycle, most notably in a habit of conceding early goals.

That team is now full of grown-ups. They grabbed the first goal at Slovenia in November and held on to win. Three months later, in Italy, they scored the first goal and got a second straight road victory in Europe. And on Saturday, on home soil against a usually stout Scottish squad, the Yanks struck first again then kicked the Scots when they were down. Not only are they more experienced two years after reaching the second round in South Africa, they're better players now, too.

There were enough cases in point Saturday night to fill a court house.

Michael Bradley, after an unsuccessful loan at Aston Villa and falling out of favor at Borussia Monchengladbach, is now a better player coming off an outstanding season at Chievo Verona. He showed it most spectacularly with a vicious strike off a feed from Jermaine Jones for the Yanks' second goal.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.