Three thoughts on U.S.' dramatic comeback over Bosnia-Herzegovina
Three thoughts on the U.S.'s 4-3 friendly win against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday:
1. It's just a friendly—but still a terrific comeback. You can put in a bunch of qualifiers here -- a ton of subs were allowed; Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan weren't on hand; August friendlies are lame -- but you have to admire a U.S. comeback from a two-goal halftime deficit to win on the road against a talented team likely heading to World Cup 2014. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann made some smart tactical tweaks at the break, moving Eddie Johnson centrally and Fabian Johnson to left midfield, and the U.S. took advantage with four second-half goals, one by EJ and three by the rampaging Jozy Altidore (who scored in his fifth straight game, a U.S. record). It's easy to make too much of the U.S.'s 12-game winning streak, an all-time program record, but you can't dismiss it entirely. Good things are happening with Klinsmann's group these days.
2. In the big picture, this game will be remembered for the new guys. Two dual-nationals made their U.S. debuts: defender John Brooks, a 20-year-old German-American, and Aron Jóhannsson, a 22-year-old Icelandic-American forward. Brooks, of Hertha Berlin, played all 90 minutes, and while he had some expected growing pains (including being beaten by Edin Dzeko for a late goal) he showed promise as well against a front line that included Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic. As for Jóhannsson, of AZ Alkmaar, he came on as a second-half sub and had some eye-popping moments up front despite no goals. Jóhannsson is permanently tied to the U.S. now moving forward, while Brooks still needs to be cap-tied, even if he talks like a guy who has made his decision. These are two promising pick-ups.
3. Altidore and Michael Bradley were superb in the second half. What more can you say about Altidore in a U.S. uniform of late? After going two years without scoring an international goal in the run of play, he can't stop scoring these days, and he's fast becoming an elite center-forward at this level. (He also showed a new dimension with a sensational free-kick goal today.) It will be fascinating to see if Altidore can carry the form he's had for club and country over to the Premier League as Sunderland starts its season this weekend. Bradley, meanwhile, had some feathery soft passes that set up U.S. goals today. Perhaps, too, Klinsmann has spoken to Bradley and Jermaine Jones about their tactical set-up in the central midfield. Bradley appeared a bit more advanced than Jones for much of the game, as opposed to recent matches in which Jones was more advanced (and not in a good way). The big games are coming with September's World Cup qualifiers, but Wednesday's win was another step forward.