The streak lives on as the U.S. men’s national team stormed back from a 2-0 halftime deficit to beat Bosnia- Herzegovina 4-3 behind a Jozy Altidore hat trick.
The Americans 12th consecutive win came against the 13th FIFA ranked Bosnia-Herzegovina team for the first ever comeback win for a USMNT team in Europe.
That comeback was necessary because the U.S. put themselves in an early hole, falling behind on a 7th minute goal from Manchester City star Edin Dzeko. Dzeko, Bosnia-Herzegovina’s all-time leader in goals, was a handful all night for the U.S. center back pairing of Geoff Cameron and newcomer John Anthony Brooks.
This game was Brooks’ USMNT debut, capping a two year chase, but that chase is not over yet, this friendly does not cap tie the 20 year old German-American. But that is a story for another day. Against Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brooks was composed and played solidly, although he was beaten by Dzeko for a late goal.
Bosnia-Herzegovina went two goals clear in the 30th minute on a goal from Vedad Ibisevic, who spent much of his youth growing up in St. Louis. Ibisevic beat Geoff Cameron to the ball for a header, and the U.S. were in trouble.
USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann made just one personnel change at the break, but he also made a tactical switch that would turn the game around. It should be noted too that the home team made four changes at the break and two more shortly after.
Edgar Castillo came in at left back moving Fabian Johnson to left midfield from left fullback and Eddie Johnson up top alongside Jozy Altidore. Mix Diskerud, who had some good moments, came off and the Americans changed formations from a 4-2-3-1 with Diskerud behind Altidore, to a 4-4-2 with Eddie Johnson alongside Altidore.
Like just about everything Jurgen Klinsmann has done in recent months, the changes worked spectacularly well.
Rebounding from a difficult first half Michael Bradley played a fine long ball over the top to a streaking Altidore. The new Sunderland man beat the defense and touched the ball on to a wide open Eddie Johnson, who tapped home into an empty net.
But Altidore was just warming up. In the 59th minute Altidore received a pass from Fabian Johnson, took one touch and rattled an audacious left footed shot past keeper Asmir Begovic.
Tim Howard lived up to the captain’s armband he wore in Clint Dempsey’s absence with a fantastic 67th minute save that set the stage for the rest of Altidore’s heroics.
Being a friendly the changes continued with Klinsmann handing Icelandic-American Aron Johannsson his first USMNT cap and also bringing Sacha Kljestan on to play in his father’s homeland, in front of a group of 20 relatives.
Johannsson was lively from the start, testing Begovic twice, and Kljestan also showed well, playing a part in Altidore’s third goal. Brimming with confidence after scoring in his fifth straight U.S. match, Altidore stepped forward when Castillo, who had a good match, was fouled nearly 30 yards from goal.
Seconds later the ball was nestled in the Bosnia-Herzegovina goal after Altidore buried his shot in the top corner. Amazingly the U.S. were ahead and some in the raucous Sarajevo crowd began to head for the exit gates.
But Altidore had still more in store. Bradley was the architect again, taking a pass from Kljestan and putting Altidore through with a perfectly weighted defense splitting pass. Of course Altidore took care of the rest for his eighth goal in his past five international matches.
Dzeko would cut the deficit in stoppage time, but the U.S. hung on and now they head into the September WCQ’s in a confident mood to take on Costa Rica on the road and Mexico at home in Columbus, Ohio.
So what is the takeaway from this game? It has always been a challenge for the USMNT to go to Europe and get a result, but under Klinsmann that appears to be changing. Being a friendly it is hard to take too much from this performance, but as Tim Howard put it on television afterwards, good performances should never be overlooked.
Klinsmann continues to build the depth on this team and Johannsson and Brooks look like players who may contribute going forward. Now it is back to the serious business of qualifying for Brazil 2014. The USMNT are in great shape at the top of the group and a win in Costa Rica on September 6, or Columbus four days later would almost assuredly get the job done with a couple of games to spare.
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
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 4 4
BIH 2 1 3
BIH – Edin Dzeko 8th minute
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)
Budweiser Man of the Match: Jozy Altidore