Matt Phillips has urged Scotland not to dwell on their 5-1 defeat to the USA and to look ahead instead.
Craig Levein’s men suffered the heavy loss in a friendly in Florida in the early hours of yesterday morning. Phillips, who made his Scotland debut, is confident the national team will bounce back quickly.
The Scots host Australia in a friendly at Easter Road in August before opening their World Cup qualifying campaign with a double-header against Serbia and Macedonia at Hampden the following month. Phillips said: “The guys were all very disappointed in the dressing room but it’s done now. We have got to look forward to the next game. When you lose 5-1, you are never going to be happy. But whatever positives there were, we will take them out of the game and move on.”
Phillips says there is plenty more to come from him in a Scotland jersey after earning his first cap on a night to forget for the national team. The Blackpool winger was forced to pull out of the last outing against Slovenia in February through injury. He knows his maiden bow will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
However, Phillips, who switched allegiance after representing England at under-19 and under-20 level, was thrilled to make his first appearance despite the result. He said: “I’m delighted to have made my debut. It was a tough game but there is more to come.”
Hearts defender Andy Webster started the match at centre half but had a game to forget, and was replaced by former Tynecastle team-mate Christophe Berra with eight minutes remaining. The hosts enjoyed a blistering start to the match with two goals in the opening 11 minutes in front of a record crowd of 44,438 for a friendly in the state of Florida. Star man Landon Donovan opened the scoring after just three minutes, before Michael Bradley grabbed a quick second. There was brief hope for the Scots when Geoff Cameron turned a Kenny Miller header into his own net. But two goals from Donovan after the break allowed him to complete his hat-trick before Jermaine Jones put the gloss on the victory for the USA.
Scotland manager Craig Levein insisted his players have no option but to take the thrashing on the chin and ensure they show a massive improvement in their next game.
He said: “We can analyse the game, and we will do, but I think focus is the most important word. We weren’t as focused as the USA. Our team have been excellent recently, with some great results, and it was most unlike them. We will take it on the chin and we will be much better next time.”
Asked if there were any positives he could take from the game in Jacksonville, Levein added: “I thought a couple of players performed reasonably well but that’s not enough in an 11-man game. We started the game poorly and in those situations, we got back in the game.
“We got to half-time and we probably should have been more behind to be honest. We were hoping we would get a boost going out into the second half but, again, we lost an early goal. With nothing to play for and with it being the end of the season, the players feel as though they are tired.”
He added: “It was evident that there was one team out there who were focused and ready to play the game and another one who looked as though they had finished the season and had nothing to play for. But I have got to recognise that the USA played extremely well.
“They started the game very quickly and before we knew it, we were two goals down. We didn’t give ourselves a chance in the match.”