Cole Bassett Leads USMNT to Win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2021 Friendly

Erin WalshDecember 19, 2021

CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 18: Ricardo Pepi #16 of the United States moves with the ball during a game between Bosnia and Herzegovina and USMNT at Dignity Health Sports Park on December 18, 2021 in Carson, California. (Photo by Robert Mora/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
Robert Mora/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The United States Men's National Team wrapped up 2021 with a 1-0 win in a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. 

The match was a great opportunity for not only MLS players to stay in shape, but for fringe players to make an impression with coach Gregg Berhalter ahead of January camp, which leads into World Cup Qualifiers later in the month against El Salvador, Canada, and Honduras. 

The UMSNT and Bosnia and Herzegovina met twice before Saturday's meeting, with the Americans taking the first game 4-3 behind a Jozy Altidore hat trick in 2013, and the two sides playing to a 0-0 draw in 2018 when goalkeeper Zack Steffen earned his first cap. 

Saturday's win marks the USMNT's 17th victory of 2021, which is now the team record for the most victories in a calendar year. The previous record of 16 wins in a calendar year was set in 2013. 

For Bosnia, Saturday's game was an opportunity to impress after missing out on Euro 2020. The entire roster was made up of domestic Bosnian Premijer Liga call-ups with 10 senior caps between 19 players. 

Highlights and Reaction

The U.S. started strong, dominating possession and getting the better of the scoring chances. However, goalkeeper Matt Turner saw more action than he probably would've liked as Bosnia and Herzegovina got a few good looks midway through the first half and tallied three shots on goal. 

Planet Fútbol @si_soccer

Very nearly a dream return to the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USMNT?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a> for Jordan Morris! His point-blank diving header is saved off the line <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USAvBIH?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USAvBIH</a> <br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/TUDNUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TUDNUSA</a>) <a href="https://t.co/oVogJSlmGw">pic.twitter.com/oVogJSlmGw</a>

Things shifted more in the Americans' favor once Bosnia and Herzegovina were forced to play a man down after midfielder Amar Begic was given a red card after a hard tackle on midfielder Kellyn Acosta.

Planet Fútbol @si_soccer

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USMNT?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a> will be a man up for the rest of the night after Amar Begić takes out Kellyn Acosta on a red-card challenge 😬<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/TUDNUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TUDNUSA</a>) <a href="https://t.co/nBVfnz0LOo">pic.twitter.com/nBVfnz0LOo</a>

Ricardo Pepi and Cristian Roldan got plenty of scoring chances and had nothing to show for it. The Americans had six total shots through the first 45 minutes, but only one on target.

While it was a rather disappointing evening for the U.S., many were quick to praise Jordan Morris, who was playing his first USMNT match in more than two years, for his first-half efforts.

Jeremiah Oshan @JeremiahOshan

Through 25 minutes, I think Morris has probably been the game's best player. Consistently creating danger. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USAvBIH?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USAvBIH</a>

Alex Morgan @quakes_talk

Jordan Morris has been really good so far. Still has that pace after all this time! Also loved his connection with Roldan.<br><br>USMNT have done a good job attacking the width and connecting crosses. I don't expect this one to stay scoreless much longer.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USMNT?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a>

Giovanny Cañas 🔟 @GioCanas10

Morris has been the lone bright spot I've seen from this game so far <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USMNT?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a>

Sounder At Heart @sounderatheart

Jordan Morris is unanimously the MOTM of the first 45 minutes of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USAvBIH?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USAvBIH</a>

The second half was much of the same for the USMNT as they came out flat.

While Berhalter tried to shake things up in the 62nd minute by opting to take off Pepi, Johnny Cardoso and Brooks Lennon for Gyasi Zardes, Jackson Yueill and Bryan Reynolds in the 62nd minute, and fans weren't happy.

Josh💫 @LimitlessJ23

Are you serious?!?

Clayton Paul @CPaul48

Berhalter was watching that and said. "Hm. How can this be even worse?"

Zardes and Yueill are two of just eight players on Saturday's roster to have double-digit caps for the U.S., so it seems Berhalter was looking for more veteran leadership with those substitutions. 

Berhalter also subbed on Cole Bassett and Cade Cowell for Morris and Ferreira in the 78th minute before sending on Jonathan Gomez for George Bello in the 84th minute. Many on Twitter were quick to respond to the substitution notice, arguing that Gomez, and the rest of the young players, should've started the match or been subbed on much earlier. 

Jackson @dumonster16

84’ late

The youngsters proved to be difference-makers in Saturday's match as Bassett, who was making his USMNT debut, finished the night with the game-winning goal in the 89th minute to give the U.S. its record-setting 17th win of the calendar year. 

Major League Soccer @MLS

🗣 COLE BASSETT!<br><br>A laaaate goal in his <a href="https://twitter.com/USMNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USMNT</a> debut!

Planet Fútbol @si_soccer

It's a debut goal for Cole Bassett and it comes in winning time. 1-0 to the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USMNT?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a>! <br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/TUDNUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TUDNUSA</a>) <a href="https://t.co/N6OKvIWzJm">pic.twitter.com/N6OKvIWzJm</a>

While Saturday's match featured a mostly domestic-based squad and allowed some fresh faces an opportunity to impress, the miscues and missed opportunities highlight how important the team's international players are to its success.

Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Sergino Dest (Barcelona), Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg) and Timothy Weah (Lille) were absent from the roster, though its understandable as they're in the midst of their respective leagues' seasons overseas. 

The U.S. is expected to have its full roster for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers El Salvador, Canada and Honduras beginning next month. The Americans are currently second in the CONCACAF qualifying standings with 15 points behind first-place Canada. 

The top three teams in CONCACAF automatically qualify for the World Cup, while the fourth-place team has to compete in an intercontinental playoff.