Each U.S. national team get-together serves a different purpose.
The Belgium and Germany friendlies were tune-ups for three World Cup qualifiers.
The World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras were to gain another step toward Brazil next summer.
The CONCACAF Gold Cup was a testing ground for young and secondary players.
Today’s friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo?
Initially, it was scheduled for the purpose of playing a high-quality opponent in Europe 3 1/2 weeks before the qualifier at Costa Rica. That mission stands. But in the past week, it has added a new wrinkle: the chance for a first-hand look at center back John Brooks and striker Aron Johannsson, dual citizens who have committed to the U.S. program.
TV coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2 and UniMas. On your tablet, WatchESPN will carry the match.
USA: Howard; Evans (Wood 87th), Cameron, Brooks, F. Johnson (Parkhurst 80th); Bradley, Jones (Kljestan 70th); Bedoya (Corona 63rd), Diskerud (Castillo 46th), E. Johnson (Johannsson 63rd); Altidore.
Subs: Guzan, Parkhurst, Castillo, Ream, Corona, Kljestan, Boyd, Johannsson, Wood.
Not in uniform: Cropper, Williams.
I will update this blog entry after any scoring and at halftime and the final whistle.
Your pregame, in-game and postgame thoughts are welcome in our comments section.
8TH MINUTE: Goal, Bosnia, 1-0. Tim Howard makes fine one-on-one stop on Edin Dzeko, who had collected through ball onside after Eddie Johnson‘s giveaway beyond penalty area. Dzeko (Manchester City) fires rebound into net before three retreating U.S. players are able to provide goal-line coverage.
30TH MINUTE: Goal, Bosnia, 2-0. Six-yard near-post header by Stuttgart’s Vedad Ibisevic (Saint Louis University). USA dealt with corner kick, but second ball was served without pressure and Ibisevic beat Geoff Cameron to Zvjezdan Misimovic‘s cross.
HALFTIME: CONCACAF is cute, but these are the real tests. The Americans carried a program-record 11-game winning streak into Sarajevo — the longest current run in the world — but 10 came at home and 10 were within the confederation. Bosnia was sleek and cohesive in the attack and countered with menace against a fresh — and predictably non-synchronized — tandem in the U.S. central defense. The Americans were hopeful in the attack: Eddie Johnson’s two runs on the left side of the box, Michael Bradley‘s corner kick that fell at the six-yard box and Mikkel Diskerud‘s claim for a penalty.
55TH MINUTE: Goal, USA, 2-1. From own end, Bradley serves wonderful long ball over top of Bosnia defense. Jozy Altidore tracks it down before charging goalkeeper arrives, one-touches square ball to his right for Eddie Johnson, who slots into open net.
59TH MINUTE: Goal, USA, 2-2. Fabian Johnson, who pushed up to left wing from backline at halftime, beats defender and slips pass past another one to supply Altidore in stride for 14-yard, left-footed drive into far side. Altidore has scored in five consecutive appearances, a U.S. record.
84TH MINUTE: Goal, USA, 3-2. Altidore scores on free kick — yes, free kick. From beyond 25 yards, the striker hooks right-footed shot into near side for second goal of evening. Remarkable comeback.
86TH MINUTE: Goal, USA, 4-2. Sacha Kljestan to Bradley to Altidore for hat trick. Bradley touches into box for Altidore’s one-timer from eight yards. Stunning.
90TH MINUTE: Goal, Bosnia. 4-3 USA. Dzeko 12-yard no-look header against Brooks for his second goal of match. Wild second half continues.
FINAL: United States 4, Bosnia and Herzegovina 3. An extraordinary response in the second half by the Americans. It began with Juergen Klinsmann‘s tactical change: 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2. Fabian Johnson is better attacking than defending, better on the wing than in the back. From there, possession and movement rose. Altidore continued his blistering summer pace with a hat trick, increasing his run to seven goals in five matches. In his debut, 20-year-old Brooks had some rough moments. But he is clearly in the mix heading toward the World Cup. Johnannsson displayed a nice first touch and threatening quality, providing Klinsmann with another frontline option.
The Americans will regroup in three weeks for World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica in San Jose, CR, on Sept. 6 and Mexico in Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 10.
Klinsmann will have a wealth of options. Consider: His squad scored four goals today on the road against a team bound for the World Cup and played without Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Graham Zusi.