So, who saw that one coming? It’s interesting given the situation. The U.S. Men’s National Team took on Bosnia-Herzegovina Wednesday afternoon in a friendly where most Americans were concentrating more on possible performances from two new players rather than getting a win.
Because I mean … it was against Bosnia-Herzegovina, who are currently ranked 13 in the FIFA world rankings. They’ve been pretty damn good during their qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. US fans being what they are, we were all mostly talking about how German-American John Anthony Brooks (I will call him that, not John Brooks. Sorry I’m not sorry US Soccer) and Icelandic-American Aron Johannsson would perform if they got time on the field.
I love that this match was much more than that. It was that, don’t get me wrong, but in the second half, this match totally flipped on its head. Allow me to dive in and explain.
By now, you know the scoreline. You’re probably surprised by it. 4-3 in favor of the USMNT. I’m surprised too, so let us both take a moment to sit here … take a deep breath … smile because the US beat a good European team … Doesn’t it feel nice? Personally, it feels very good to be pleasantly surprised by the national team. It also feels really great to have a 12-straight winning streak.
You wouldn’t have thought that watching the first half. And though I was cringing, it really wasn’t that bad of a half. I’m being serious. Yes, Bosnia got their two goals in the first half. The first because I have no idea what Eddie Johnson was doing and he clearly didn’t either. The second because, well it was a gorgeous header from Vedad Ibisevic and I really think no one had a chance to stop that.
The US were a little shaky, but about half way through the first 45, they settled and picked up more possession. Despite the two goals against them, they looked decent. Geoff Cameron was paired in the back with Brooks and while the two didn’t look spectacular together, they made a good showing as the match went on. Makes you feel a bit better about the depth the US has in central defense now, doesn’t it? And Brooks is young, it was his first appearance. He was bound to make a few slips and give up a foul or two – all of which he did. But on the whole, he stayed strong, he went to shut down plays and looked decent.
The second half changed everything. Jurgen Klinsmann has learned if he wants the team to score against a European team, he’s going to have to play the 4-4-2. Once he subbed in Edgar Castillo for Mix Diskerud, it all slotted into place. With Castillo in the left back position, Fabian Johnson moved into the midfield. That put Eddie Johnson up top with Jozy Altidore. Ten minutes into the half, Michael Bradley had the most lovely chip shot from midfield, which landed at Altidore’s feet. With a few touches, Altidore wrangled it and served it up on a silver platter for EJ.
The flood gates opened. Four minutes later, Fabian slotted the ball through to Jozy, who beat his defender and the goalie. Then that beautiful free kick. God, I will dream about that free kick from Jozy, which sailed right over the wall of Bosnian players and curved right into the upper left corner of the net. Jozy’s hattrick would come after Michael Bradley made a run through the mid and put it forward for Jozy.
It was really pretty damn awesome. Bosnia would get another back through Edin Dzeko, but it would be all for naught. The US already had all they needed.
The other point I mentioned earlier, Aron Johannsson? Yeah, I totally get the hype now. I’ll admit, I hadn’t seen the kid play before today so I wasn’t so sure his play was going to be as fantastic as everyone was claiming. I will promptly admit I was wrong. Johannsson has speed in spades and clever little turns and an eye for the game. It was brilliant to watch him come in and – in his first appearance for the US – make at least three tactical runs on goal. I cannot wait to see what more comes from him.
So, we got the win, we have the winning streak, we’ve got more depth in our central defense and in our strikers. I’m gonna call it a done deal and say this day was pretty perfect for the USMNT – friendly or not.