The United States is currently in its most successful run of play ever. Fresh off a Gold Cup title and sitting atop World Cup qualifying, the team has won 11 straight games and heads into a friendly on Wednesday against Bosnia-Herzegovina on fire.
But Bosnia-Herzegovina is playing extremely well at the moment, too. The team hasn't lost in six World Cup qualifying matches, winning five, and is unbeaten in its last nine. Ranked No. 13 in the latest FIFA rankings (the United States is No. 20), Bosnia-Herzegovina represents a stiff test for the Americans.
Let's break down what promises to be a very competitive friendly.
When: Wednesday, August 14 at 2:30 p.m. ET
Where: Asim Ferhatovic Hase, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
What They're Saying
While a few USMNT regulars will be sitting this friendly out—Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan come to mind—there are still roster spots to be had for next year's World Cup. Leander Schaerlaeckens of FOX Sports breaks down those players hoping to catch Juergen Klinsmann's eye:
Goalkeeper Cody Cropper, defender John Anthony Brooks and forwards Aron Johannsson and Bobby Wood received their first call-ups and could make their debuts. Brooks and Johannsson are also eligible for Germany and Iceland, respectively. And while an appearance in this game won’t tie them up for the USA—it isn’t part of an official competition—their introduction to the program has enthused many.
Several players have seemingly leveraged a strong Gold Cup performance into this A-team call-up. Defender Michael Parkhurst demonstrated that he can play out of the back, as Klinsmann demands of those in that line—so did Michael Orozco Fiscal but he had to withdraw from the squad because of a groin injury. Alejandro Bedoya and Joe Corona developed as viable options on the wing. Mikkel “Mix” Diskerud did the same in the middle, in one of the box-to-box roles.
Defender Tim Ream, midfielder Danny Williams and forward Terrence Boyd will get a look after getting little national team love of late; Ream hasn’t appeared for the USA since Oct. 11, 2011; Williams has made just one appearance this year; Boyd has two, but for a total of just 18 minutes.
United States Player to Watch: Jozy Altidore
This is the biggest season of Jozy Altidore's career, and for all intents and purposes it starts on Wednesday afternoon.
While his starting place at striker seems assured—well, unless he has a truly terrible 2013-14 campaign—his form will dictate how far the United States advances in Brazil. Another strong campaign like last year, this time in the Premier League with Sunderland, and the United States will make noise at next year's World Cup.
Every time Altidore steps onto a pitch this season, all American eyes will be firmly trained on his every move. In a stiff test against Bosnia-Herzegovina, Altidore will likely need to find the net for the United States to get the win.
Bosnia-Herzegovina Player to Watch: Edin Dzeko
Dzeko has featured prominently during the preseason for City's new manager, Manuel Pellegrini, and looks certain to build upon 15 goals for the club last season. He's Bosnia-Herzegovina's most dangerous player and is a dangerous finisher who will give the United States' back line fits all afternoon long.
If he is contained, the United States have a great chance to win this game. But if Dzeko runs buck wild, it's lights out for the Americans.
The United States will be without several regulars, but this is still a smattering of players that has kept the United States hot this summer. Unfortunately, Bosnia-Herzegovina is pretty hot as well.
Look for this game to end in a 1-1 draw.