If you're a USA soccer fan, you should feel extremely excited right now. The team has completely bought into the German way – that is “listen to team manager Jurgen Klinsmann”. After a dismal first half that saw the red, white, and blue trailing 2-0 in this friendly, the yanks began firing on all cylinders to bring the win streak to 12 games in a row against international opponents. I know that some of these matches were against lesser “B” sides, but instilling a “winning” mentality is all a part of the package that Klinsmann wants to implement as we glide down the road to the world cup in Brazil.
Speaking of Klinsmann, he brought a very experimental squad to Sarajevo (that was mostly European based) in the USA's last match before WC2014 qualifying begins next month against Costa Rica. As a proponent of continuing to bring in new players to challenge and develop, I was extremely pleased to see John Brooks (Bundesliga) and Aron Johannson (Eredivise) get their first “caps” or appearances on record for the US team. Brooks, a 6'4, center back, and dual national from Germany looked aggressive and did an overall solid job for a youngster containing Manchester City star, Edin Dzeko, for most of the match (even though Dzeko still had two high quality goals). Most importantly, Brooks looked like he belonged and didn't back down. We'll need “JB” to make that full decision to pick the USA for his national team over Germany as he definitely has a shot to make the WC roster with nothing solidified in back.
Johannson, an AZ Alkmaar (dutch league) striker and Iceland native had some deft touches and a few nice little strikes on goal when he entered the match late in the 2nd half after recently completing his FIFA switch to the US - since he was born in Mobile, Alabama. Both new players should continue to be brought in by Klinsmann and definitely added to the overall excitement for the big road win. Keep an eye on both in their respective leagues this autumn.
However, the story of the day - Mr. Jozy Altidore. The 23yr old Jersey kid and newly signed Sunderland Premier player (about to start his 2nd stint in the EPL) looked electric. He first assisted Eddie Johnson (55') after a brilliantly placed over the top ball by Chicagoan Michael Bradley. Then, he proceeded to blast a another his first goal in the 59th minute after a sweet first touch to draw the yanks even with the Balkan team. Jozy guided the US to more possession, opportunities, and better overall play in the 2nd half as our boys minimized their errors. Granted, one could say that Bosnia-Herzegovina subbed out most of their back line and made a lot of switches, but that won't allow me to sacrifice the positives of this match.
The US need to be ready to handle European teams that are physical, tactically sound, and play at a high level if they want to make a deep run in next year's World Cup (assuming they continue to dominate CONCACAF) and qualify. I applaud Klinsmann for maintaining his methods in the 2nd half and making the right substitutions (although I would have liked to see Terrence Boyd).
In sum, Howard looked solid as a keeper and made some big saves. Geoff Cameron should be pushed back up to the midfield instead of playing CB and I strongly believe Fabian Johnson should move back up to an outside mid position as he always does better when he's threatening further up the field. Jermaine Jones looked weak and dribbled too much at times. Bradley controlled the center of the field and I'm still not entirely sure why Klinsmann brings up Castillo and Orozco Fiscal when they haven't proven they can perform at a high level. Give some of the other young players a chance with these experiments. For BH, Dzeko and Ibisevic (who starred for SLU years ago) paired up front nicely together to intimidate our boys early on but the resilience of our national team was a bright spot in this relatively meaningless match.
That being said, the evaluation process continues for Klinsmann as he recently celebrated his 2nd full year as the director of our national group. He's brought in 61 different players over the course of his tenure and demands excellence both on and off the pitch from his players. With only 3 weeks until one of the most important upcoming qualifiers as we head down to Costa Rica, the US ends the summer on a positive note and Jurgen's 3rd year starts full throttle. BIG 4-3 win for moral, not as big of a win statistically (except for JAlt). But, happy to say, the stars and stripes will leave the former war torn country with big smiles on their faces thanks to Jozy. Now, let's see how he does for Sunderland this weekend.