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Soccer Outsider: USA-Bosnia and Herzegovina match diary, player ratings

Coming into Tuesday’s match against Bosnia and Herzegovina, the U.S. men’s soccer team had the longest winning streak in the world at 11 games. That’s great! But let me be a cynic for a minute (actually, for my whole life). Games against Belize and Cuba don’t count. Guatemala and El Salvador stank like a diaper full of burnt hair. Germany was an impressive conquest, but the team it brought was a B-minus, maybe even a C-plus team; it was somewhere in “grades that would get you wait-listed at Arizona State” territory. So: Congrats on the six-game winning streak, guys!

Tuesday night’s lineup: Howard | Fabian, John Anthony Brooks (!), Cameron, Evans | Eddie, Bradley, Jones, Bedoya, Diskerud | Altidore. Tonight is the USMNT debut for John Anthony Brooks. About Brooks: he’s 20, an Aquarius, enjoys square dancing (maybe), plays for newly promoted Hertha Berlin, and is gigantic (6 feet 4!). Also, stop me if you’ve heard this one: He is the son of an American serviceman and a German mother. What is going on with these American servicemen and German women? (Well, I guess we know  what’s going on.) We have military bases in other countries. Attention Korean, Japanese and Italian women: Step up your game. The U.S. Army’s Soccer Dominance Project is skewing heavily Teutonic.

Here’s kickoff from Bosnia and Herzigo…Hertzeg…Herzgovv…you know, I thought when Milosevic was captured part of the deal was that we would never have to spell “Herzegovina” again.

1’ – They may have missed the last few World Cups, but B&H can play: they’re currently leading their World Cup qualifying group with 16 points after six games. England and France would love to be in that position right now.

4’ – Some of you have pointed out — rightly — that I’m funnier when I’m writing about a bad team. Don’t worry: I’m covering D.C. United this weekend.

6’ – These “and” countries — Bosnia AND Herzegovina, Trinidad AND Tobago — are cheating. Just pick one name. We’re not “Alabama and Alaska and Arizona and Arkansas (etc.).”

8’ – Goal Bosnia and Tobago! A horrible giveaway from Eddie leads to a goal from Dzeko. Brooks and Cameron also had a nice view of the showdown between Dzeko and Howard but maybe should have retreated to the line.

9’ – Dzeko is a huge celebrity in B&H, mostly for being the only man in the country whose last name doesn’t end in “ic.”

18’ – Diskerud is pushed down in the box but there’s no whistle! Well, this is good World Cup prep — we will be robbed of at least one penalty next June.

30’ – Goal Antigua and Herzegovina! 2-0! This time it’s Saint Louis University’s own Vedad Ibisevic! You’re probably wondering why Ibisevic isn’t wearing red, white and blue, and the answer is because he never gained citizenship. In this age of globalization, we need to accept that we’re going to win some and lose some.

34’ – A giveaway from Jones almost leads to Saint Kitts and Bosnia’s third. Jones is a difficult player to rate; he mixes the very good with the very bad.

42’ – Klinsmann has clearly told the team to play out of the back. Howard hasn’t punted all match.

Halftime: 2-0 Bosnia and the Grenadines. It’s been pretty even but they’ve won the battles in front of goal. Sorry to use the word “battle” — I swore to myself I’d get through this post without mentioning the war.

46’ – If that last line doesn’t spawn a “Fawlty Towers” link somewhere in the comments section then I am disappointed in all of you.

52’ – It was a tentative start for John Anthony Brooks, but he’s settled in. Also, I’m just going to call him “John Brooks” because “John Anthony Brooks” sounds like an assassin.

55’ – Goal Jozy! Technically Eddie, but Jozy did the work, bringing the ball down right in Eddie’s path. Credit also goes to Bradley for a nice ball over the top. We’re back in it at 2-1.

59’ – Goal USA and we’re tied! Jozy gets a feed from Fabian and blasts it home with his left foot! I hope Paolo Di Canio is watching (and if not I hope he’s watching “Community” because I want that show to stick around).

63’ – Now making his US debut is Icelandic-Alabaman Aron Johannsson. “Icelandic-Alabaman” is an outstanding word combination. Makes me picture Bjork in a sleeveless flannel shirt.

64’ – Johannsson’s connection to the United States is partly due to the fact that his family vacationed in Florida every summer. Everyone in the Barbados FA just heard that and thought: “Vacation? Hmmmm.”

77’ – All of America just fell in love with Aron Johannsson; a deft touch around a defender, a cut inside, a hard shot on goal, and I am sold. Herculez Gomez is at home thinking, “I had a good run.”

84’ – Goal USA! Jozy curls a free kick over the wall and it’s 3-2! Get that man to a cryogenic freezer this instant; we’ll thaw him out next June.

86’ – HAT TRICK FOR JOZY! 4-2! Could Jozy be our best player right now, including Dempsey and Donovan? Bradley should also be in the conversation; he had the assist.

87’ – Another new player for the United States: Bobby “Low-Key Debut” Wood. Sorry, Bobby: this is about all the ink you’ll get tonight.

90’ – Goal Bosnia and the Heartbreakers! Dzeko again, and it’s 4-3. What a match.

Full time: 4-3 USA! The streak goes to 12 or seven, depending on how you’re counting. Can we just play the World Cup right now?

Player ratings:

Howard: 6.5. Not at fault on the goals, which he made obvious by berating his defenders each time. They deserved it, though.

Fabian: 5.5. Needs to commit to defending a bit more, but I like his speed and skill.

Brooks: 5. Good physical tools but his concentration lapsed a few times. In D.C. we call that the “Ethan White.”

Cameron: 3.5. All in all, a good night for Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez.

Davis Evans: 6. It might take a full year of solid play to convince me that he’s a better option than Cherundolo or Chandler, but he’s on his way.

Eddie: 3.5. Wanted too much time on the ball and was indecisive in the box.

Bradley: 7.5. Let’s all reflect on the fact that the people who said “he’s only playing because of his dad” were stupid even by the low standard of Internet commenters (except you guys — you’re the best!).

Jones: 6. I’m a fan of effective, aggressive passing, and he always plays a few that cut right through the defense, so I’m more forgiving of his mistakes than others. But, man: Can we cut down on the mistakes, Jermaine?

Bedoya: 4. I think he needs lots of space to be effective. He’s a free-range winger.

Diskerud: 3.5. In fairness, I don’t think his role was very well defined. Unless his instructions were to “generally disappear and only ever get the ball with your back to goal.”

Jozy: 4. He needed to work harder on defense; I’ll send him some Lionard Pajoy tapes.

I’m kidding: 9.

Castillo: 4.5. I think I’ll call Castillo “The Squirrel” because he’s always running into traffic.

Corona: 6. Provided some energy, which is what you’re supposed to do when you’re a sub and you’re 23.

Johannsson: 7. I know better than to overreact to 20 minutes of soccer, but that was an impressive 20 minutes of soccer.

Kljestan: 6. Six points for his play, minus five for the moustache, plus five for the jaunty earmuffs.

Parkhurst: No rating.

Wood: No rating. See Bobby: no ink.

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