5 Things We Learned from United States vs. Bosnia Herzegovina
The United States men's national team traveled to Sarajevo on Wednesday and extended their win streak to 12 games.
While it was only an international friendly, we can certainly take away a lot from this game. From the Michael Bradley to Jozy Altidore combination to the newcomers Aron Johannsson and John Anthony Brooks, the United States showed a different perspective.
Here are five things we learned from the match against Bosnia Herzegovina.
Michael Bradley Is World-Class
Michael Bradley is the best player on the United States men's national team. There, I said it.
Bradley is the most consistent player every time he touches the field. His pace, poise and tackling are all incredible, but it is really his distribution that sets him apart.
Statistically, Bradley was magical against Bosnia. Not only did he complete 92 of his 100 passes, but he also perfectly set up the first goal. Oftentimes in soccer the right player doesn't get recognized for setting up the play, but this was all Bradley.
Bradley casually hit the ball 45 yards directly on the foot of Jozy Altidore, who made a beautiful touch to Eddie Johnson. While it doesn't show up on the stat sheet, that first goal was all Bradley.
Bradley finally got an assist on the last goal. After Sacha Kljestan touched the ball forward, Bradley perfectly touched the ball past the Bosnian defense to Altidore, who wouldn't miss an opportunity like that.
Looking past the stats and amazing individual plays, Bradley is the key to the Yank's success. When he plays well, the United States wins. When he starts slowly, the Americans have trouble getting anything going.
At this point, Bradley, Altidore, and Tim Howard are the only guaranteed starters for the World Cup next year.
Still Have a Problem in Defense
No matter what the United States does on offense, they still have a problem defensively. However, I will admit that none of the goals were particularly the defense's fault.
The first goal was Eddie Johnson's fault. He gave the ball up right outside the penalty area, which is a really basic mistake. However, if you watched Tim Howard's reaction, you can see his anger at his defense. They didn't run back and cover the net quickly enough to possibly block second opportunity.
The second goal was offside, as you can see in the picture above. Just another case of the Yanks not getting a call that they would need.
The third goal was a great play of Edin Dzeko, but I wouldn't hold that against John Anthony Brooks. Brooks had that challenge of keeping up with Dzeko for the entire game and he finally made a minor mistake in the 90th minute.
Dzeko's little run caught Brooks offside, but it was simply a great play by the veteran forward.
Moving forward, the United States needs to establish who their starting defense is. I see Brooks as a shoe-in for the qualifiers moving forward. His rare combination of size and speed are undeniable. The other center back spot is a challenge between Geoff Cameron, Clarence Goodson, Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler.
The outside defender spots are a different story. Brad Evans played well against Bosnia, but I don't think he has done enough to guarantee himself a spot. The left defender spot is Fabian Johnson's to lose. However, he plays much better in an attacking role than playing behind the midfield.
This was a good test for Johnson as he played both roles in the game. But we will see how Klinsmann uses Johnson in the future.
Jermaine Jones Could Lose His Starting Job
Jermaine Jones has been a staple next to Michael Bradley for a few years now, but that could change moving forward.
The 31-year old midfielder played really bad in the first half against Bosnia Herzegovina. While Bradley was able to spray passes all over the field, Jermaine Jones regularly turned it over. He successfully made 46 passes and made 12 unsuccessful passes, which is not good for a center midfielder.
Jones also was tackled and lost possession on 13 occasions. Again, not a good number for a center midfielder. Looking past the stats, Jones just looked out of it.
With the immense amount of depth the Yanks have suddenly gotten, Jones could be challenged for a starting spot. Mix Diskerud has had a really good month for Klinsmann from the Gold Cup leading up to this past friendly. If he has a good club season, he could make a move next to Bradley.
Geoff Cameron and Sacha Kljestan also play central midfield, and both played well yesterday. Cameron is versatile in the sense that he can play central defense as well as central midfield, and I think he is better at the latter. Kljestan also played well in his short 20 minute stint next to Bradley. He set up the last goal to Bradley with a great forward pass.
Jones certainly hasn't lost his spot yet, but his weak play has certainly opened up some conversations about it.
Jozy Altidore Is Top-Class
Did you ever think that Jozy Altidore would remind you of Cristiano Ronaldo?
The American striker was able to involve himself in every single goal, ending with an assist on top of three goals.
He showed a beautiful touch to Eddie Johnson after a perfect Bradley pass to assist the first goal. He showed why he is a great striker with his incredible turn and shot for the second goal of the game. He showed great awareness and unbelievable ability with his free kick. And he showed how to beat a keeper one on one with his last goal.
I just went through about every single detail that makes a forward great and Altidore has them all. He was unbelievable for the entire game. Whether there was a forward with him or he was the lone striker, Altidore put a stamp on the game.
Even in the first half where he was unable to get any clean looks at the net, he was getting fouled deep in enemy territory, which is exactly what a forward needs to do in a gritty game.
If Altidore is able to continue his success in the English Premier League this season, the United States will have a legitimate shot at advancing a few rounds in the World Cup.
America Is a Melting Pot
Let me first start off by giving you a snippet of a great article written by Jozy Altidore on ESPN.com after the friendly on Wednesday night:
Call it resilience, perseverance, resolve. Call it whatever you want. The bottom line is that we showed true American spirit and heart rallying for a win against a country poised to earn a spot in next year's World Cup.
Resilience, perseverance and resolve are words that are often used to discuss the way Americans play soccer. This 'American spirit' is often what pushes us past opponents when you least expect it, like what happened in Sarajevo.
However, the American spirit represents a lot more than a little grit and determination. The men's national team embodies our beautiful country by having representation from all over the world.
America is regularly called a melting pot based on our history of letting people from all over the world join us. This has simply rolled over into the soccer team.
The amount of players that the United States have that are either have dual citizenship or spent a good part of their lives across the world is resounding.
John Anthony Brooks (American father), Aron Johannsson (born in Alabama), Fabian Johnson (American father), Jermaine Jones (American father) and Mix Diskerud (American mother) all played big minutes without spending their entire lives in America.
The 'American spirit' that the United States have played with over the years is now transforming into the the country we are today. Looking past the grit and determination, the United States men's national team truly represents the country.