On a night when it looked like the Men’s National Team’s 11-game winning streak was coming to an end, Jozy Altidore had other ideas, and the U.S. defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina 4–3 in Sarajevo.
Coach Jürgen Klinsmann’s lineup had Tim Howard (captain) in goal; Brad Evans, Geoff Cameron, John Brooks, and Fabian Johnson in defense; Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya, Mix Diskerud, and Eddie Johnson in midfield; with Altidore up top.
The pattern of the half was set early, with Bosnia-Herzegovina holding the majority of possession. Bosnia earned the first of what would be several corners in the second minute. The ball dropped inside the box, but was carried away by Jermaine Jones. Shortly after, Bedoya found himself released up the right-hand side. His cross found Eddie Johnson in the box, but Johnson was unable to get a shot off before being closed down.
In the 8th minute, after a stretch of relatively dull possession by Bosnia-Herzegovina, Eddie Johnson lost the ball at the top of the U.S. box. Bosnia-Herzegovina pounced and fed Eden Džeko in behind the defense. Howard came out and saved the first shot, but the ball rebounded to Džeko, and his second attempt made it across the line before the defense could retreat and catch it. The defense, perhaps thinking Howard had no chance to make the first save, seemed to fall asleep a bit.
The game quickly settled down, with neither team generating much, but with Bosnia-Herzegovina having more possession. Džeko was proving himself a menace, often occupying two defenders when he received the ball. U.S. attacks were tending to break down with Diskerud being muscled off the ball in the final third, though in the 19th, he might have been awarded a penalty kick when he was fouled while making a turn around a defender into the B-H box. The ref gave nothing.
In the 20th, Altidore—who, in fairness, was doing quite well roving up top alone—won a free kick on the left. The shot deflected out for a corner, and Bradley’s service in fell inside the six-yard box, but couldn’t get directed toward goal.
In the 23rd, Džeko, again making himself dangerous, received the ball high left and sent in a very dangerous low cross that was well defended by Cameron.
In the 27th, a one-two between Altidore and Diskerud put Altidore away on goal. He was brought down by the Bosnia-Herzegovina captain, Emir Spahic, who was issued a yellow card. Bradley’s lofted free kick couldn’t find the mark. The U.S. hadn’t scored, but were finding their way into the match.
But in the 30th, Bosnia-Herzegovina made it two. After earning another corner from the U.S. left, which was cleared, Bosnia-Herzegovina collected the second ball, recycled it, and put it back in, where Bosnia-Herzegovina’s No. 9, Vedad Ibisevic, was there to put it away with a powerful header. Replays showed he may have been offside, and perhaps pushed off, as well, but the goal stood.
In the 35th, Bosnia-Herzegovina nearly made it three. After Jermaine Jones turned the ball over in the middle of the park, Bosnia-Herzegovina took it straight up the U.S. gut on the break. They had numbers but, luckily for the U.S., Miralem Pjanic couldn’t find the finish.
The final ten-plus minutes of the game was marked by a series of U.S. free kicks outside the Bosnia-Herzegovina box, in between good moments of individual defending by the U.S. to break up Bosnia-Herzegovina attacks, but the Americans couldn’t find a way through.
To start the second half, Edgar Castillo came on for Diskerud, pushing Fabian Johnson up to wide left midfield and Eddie Johnson up top with Altidore. Bosnia-Herzegovina made four changes, comfortable with their two-goal lead.
The home team started the second half where they left off the first, putting a dangerous ball over the U.S. defense, but Castillo was alert, and put the ball out for a corner. It came to nothing.
In the 50th, the U.S. had a corner of their own. Bradley’s ball found Brooks, and his header down seemed to strike the hand of a Bosnia-Herzegovina defender. The ref thought about it, but didn’t blow for a penalty.
In the 55th, the U.S. pulled one back, via Route 1. Bradley launched a long ball over the top. Altidore ran onto it, just getting a touch before the keeper. Altidore’s touch pushed the ball into Eddie Johnson’s path, and his finish was easy, rolling the ball straight down the middle of the goal.
In the 57th, Dzeko took down a long ball of his own and ripped a shot past Howard from outside the box, but the goal didn’t count. Dzeko made the finish after being whistled for offsides.
In the 59th, the U.S. pulled level. After a strong turn outside the Bosnia-Herzegovina box by Fabian Johnson, Altidore took the ball on and finished powerfully across the keeper with his left foot. It was Altidore’s fifth goal in as many games for the U.S., a record.
In the 63rd, after two more Bosnia-Herzegovina substitutions, Aron Johannsson came on for Eddie Johnson, making his U.S. debut. Joe Corona came on for Bedoya at the same time.
In the 67th, Howard did very well to make a one-handed save after a good cross from the Bosnia-Herzegovina right found its target and was flicked toward goal.
In the 69th, a Bosnia-Herzegovina corner was played long and driven toward goal on the volley. The ball deflected off Altidore and just wide of the U.S. goal. Before the kick, Sacha Kljestan came on for Jermaine Jones. The eventual corner was cleared, but Bosnia-Herzegovina earned another corner immediately after. This one dropped inside the U.S. box, but was cleared.
In the 74th, Johannsson did very well to take a ball from Corona, turn inside the box and lash a shot on goal. The keeper saved, but it would have been quite the debut had it gone in. In the 77th, he nearly did it again. Taking a ball from Kljestan on the left side of the Bosnia-Herzegovina box, he danced past a defender and put in another shot, which was also saved.
In the 79th, Brooks, who’s previously given up a tough free kick while bodying up Dzeko, gave up another just outside the U.S. box, seeming to tangle feet with the big striker as he tried to burst into the U.S. box. Before the kick, Michael Parkhurst entered for Fabian Johnson, pushing Evans into right midfield and Corona over to the left. The free kick deflected off the wall and was an easy catch for Howard.
In the 84th, Altidore scored to give the U.S. the lead. After good work by Castillo earned a free kick just outside the Bosnia-Herzegovina, Altidore stood over the ball and then calmly curled it over the wall and into the upper 90 of the Bosnia-Herzegovina goal. It was a pearl.
And in the 86th, Altidore had a hat trick. Kljestan did well to poke a ball free in midfield. Bradley picked it up and fed Altidore inside the box, where he made no mistake.
That goal was needed, as just minutes later, Dzeko scored his second to give Bosnia-Herzegovina their third. A lofted ball into the U.S. box looked harmless, but Dzeko drifted in and flicked the ball over Brooks and into the far side netting.
Bosnia-Herzegovina sensed they might be able to steal a point after that, but the U.S. played intelligently, held the ball well, and saw the game out.
Clichés are used a lot because they’re often true: Never have truer words been spoken than “It was a game of two halves.” In the first, Bosnia-Herzegovina were better than the U.S. They held the ball better, pressed the attack more aggressively, and seemed interested in playing the game, which was not obviously true of the U.S. Then, the second half happened, Klinsmann made adjustments, and the U.S. scored four goals in the span of 31 minutes.
Jozy Altidore in beast mode: In the first half, Altidore was one of the few bright spots for the U.S. In the second half, especially after the introduction of Aron Johannsson, he was simply unplayable. Every time he touched the ball, something good happened. Three goals and an assist speak for themselves.
Michael Bradley, assist meister: But never let it be said that Michael Bradley didn’t make a contribution. Two assists for him and his usual tireless running and passing in midfield paced the U.S. throughout. His free kicks and corners weren’t sterling, but otherwise, he was excellent.
Debutants’ ball: John Brooks did fairly well against a very good striker in Eden Dzeko, but did give away a couple of dangerous fouls, and was partially at fault for the first Bosnia-Herzegovina goal. Aron Johannsson really stole the show. His pace and movement, allied with a quick release, nearly netted him two goals of his own, and his introduction seemed to free up Altidore.
After the first half, the U.S.’s win streak seemed destined to end, in poor fashion, at 11. After tying things up, the streak still looked dead, but the U.S. could have been happy with the result. Then, Altidore scored a couple more.
Say what you will about this being only a friendly—and Bosnia-Herzegovina did seem to think the game over at 2–0—but scoring four consecutive goals against a top-15-in-the-world side away from home is impressive. Klinsmann again made the tactical adjustments necessary to get the best from his team and the game at hand. The switch to 4-4-2 made an immediate difference, and in Altidore, the U.S. has a striker in very rare form.
While this performance was in no way perfect—no day you give up three goals is perfect—the U.S. train just kept on rolling in Sarajevo, pushing the win streak to 12 (seventh-longest winning streak by any international side ever, incidentally—Spain owns the record, with 15).
To say the U.S. looks good going into the next World Cup Qualifying games in September is a massive understatement.
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina
Date: August 14, 2013
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Asim Ferhatovic Hase Stadium – Sarajevo, Bosnia
Kickoff: 8:30p.m. local
Weather: 73 degrees, clear
BIH – Edin Dzeko (unassisted) 8
BIH – Vedad Ibesevic (Zvjezdan Misimovic) 30
USA – Eddie Johnson (Jozy Altidore) 55
USA – Jozy Altidore (Fabian Johnson) 59
USA – Jozy Altidore 84
USA – Jozy Altidore (Michael Bradley) 86
BIH – Edin Dzeko (Edin Visca) 90
USA: 1-Tim Howard (capt.); 6-Brad Evans (11-Bobby Wood, 87), 20-Geoff Cameron, 5-John Brooks, 23-Fabian Johnson (15-Michael Parkhurst, 80); 4-Michael Bradley, 13-Jermaine Jones (16-Sacha Kljestan, 69), 19-Alejandro Bedoya (10-Joe Corona, 63), 8-Mix Diskerud (2-Edgar Castillo, 45), 18-Eddie Johnson (7-Aron Johannsson, 63); 17-Jozy Altidore
Substitutions Not Used: 12-Brad Guzan, 9-Terrence Boyd, 21-Tim Ream
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
BIH: 1-Asmir Begovic; 4-Emir Spahic (capt.) (23-Toni Sunjic, 45);3-Ermin Bicakcic; 15-Sejad Salihovic (7- Miroslav Stevanovic) ; 21 Ervin Zukanovic (19-Edin Visca, 62); 16-Senad Lulic; 6-Elvir Rahimic (14-Adnan Zahirovic, 45); 8-Miralem Pjanic (18 Haris Medunjanin, 61); 10-Zvjezdan Misimovic; 9-Vedad Ibisevic (2-Avdija Vrsajevic, 45); 11-Den Dzeko
Substitutions Not Used: 22-Asimir Avdukic; 12-Jasmin Fejzic
Head coach: Safet Susic
Stats Summary: USA / BIH
Shots: 10 / 12
Shots on Goal: 7 / 6
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 5 / 11
Fouls: 10 / 10
Offside: 1 / 3
BIH – Emir Spahic (caution) 27th minute
Referee: Damir Skomina (SVN)
Assistant Referee 1: Primož Arhar (SVN)
Assistant Referee 2: Marko Stančin (SVN)
Fourth Official: Emir Alečković (BIH)