Photo by ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
The U.S. Men’s National Team got off to a tepid start and their record winning streak appeared to be in real danger, but that was before they put together a four-goal second half en route to dousing Bosnia & Herzegovina, 4-3, in a historic comeback in Sarajevo on Wednesday.
U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann surely saw plenty of encouraging signs as his squad bounced back from a pedestrian first half to post its first ever come-from-behind win on European soil. There was Jozy Altidore’s brilliant three-goal, one-assist performance; a sparkling debut off the bench for Aron Johannsson; and another impressive display from midfield ace Michael Bradley.
Not everything was perfect. Geoff Cameron had a tough time playing in a position that he rarely sees time in these days while Mix Diskerud found it tough to leave his mark on the match during his 45 minutes on the field.
There was still more good than bad in the victory, however, especially in the second half, and several U.S. players helped improve their stocks heading into next month’s World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico.
Here are the SBI USMNT Player Grades for their 4-3 win vs. Bosnia & Herzegovina:
USMNT 4, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA 3: SBI PLAYER GRADES
TIM HOWARD (6.5)
Did well to prevent Bosnia from reclaiming the lead after Altidore had equalized, making a couple of key saves. Also made a great stop to deny Edin Dzeko in the first half, but the rebound fell kindly to the Manchester City forward.
BRAD EVANS (6)
Another solid outing for Evans, who is starting to make a real serious case for himself as a potential starting right back when World Cup qualifying resumes. He was defensively stout for the most part and occasionally offered something going forward.
GEOFF CAMERON (4)
A disappointing performance for the versatile Cameron, who was beaten by Vedad Ibisevic on Bosnia’s second goal. Granted, Cameron was playing a position that he rarely plays these days and with a centerback partner that he met a couple days prior to Wednesday’s match.
JOHN BROOKS (5.5)
Looked far from a player earning his first international cap. Was composed at the back for much of his 90-minute performance, but learned a late lesson after falling asleep a bit on Dzeko’s headed finish following a cross from the left in the 90th minute.
FABIAN JOHNSON (6)
Struggled to do much offensively as a left back, but benefited from being moved to left midfield after Klinsmann switched to a 4-4-2 formation at halftime. Johnson’s equalizing assist to Altidore looked easier than it was.
MICHAEL BRADLEY (8)
Aside from Altidore, Bradley was the best U.S. player on the field. He connected on 92 of his 100 passes, including on a sublime ball over the top that Altidore brought down into the path of Eddie Johnson for the Americans’ first strike. Bradley also had a nifty assist to Altidore on the eventual game-winner.
JERMAINE JONES (5)
Never really found his footing and gave up the ball too cheaply on a pair of occasions, resulting in dangerous Bosnia counterattacks. Not his strongest showing in a U.S. jersey.
ALEJANDRO BEDOYA (5.5)
Started the game brightly, teeing up Eddie Johnson with a nice pass from the right flank that the Seattle Sounders forward should have done better with. He tracked back well to help out Evans and showed his patented energy on the right flank before fading in the second half.
MIX DISKERUD (4.5)
Had a tough time with the physicality of the Bosnian midfielders and defenders and never left his stamp on the game before coming off at halftime. It must be said, however, that he only played when the U.S. was in the 4-2-3-1 formation that bore little fruit.
EDDIE JOHNSON (4.5)
Was to blame for Bosnia’s opener, as he was caught being too casual with the ball at his feet deep in the Americans’ half. Bounced back in the second half in his more natural forward position and scored the goal that started the epic comeback.
JOZY ALTIDORE (9)
If it was not his best performance in a U.S. jersey to date, it was pretty darn close. Altidore was a handful from the opening whistle, picking up fouls as the lone striker in the 4-2-3-1 set-up before taking it up a notch in the second half. He did well to bring down Bradley’s aerial ball before setting up Eddie Johnson’s goal, took all three of his well, including on a beautiful free kick from about 25 yards out, and even put in some defensive work. All in all, a standout showing for Altidore.
EDGAR CASTILLO (6)
Coming on at left back at halftime as the Americans switched things up, Castillo held his own at left back. He defended competently and his offensive forays forward were impressive.
ARON JOHANNSSON (6.5)
In his U.S. debut, Johannsson showed just why Iceland is upset over losing him. Johannsson provided immediate energy, showed some quality touches and always had a purpose as he attacked Bosnia’s defenders. His late decision to pass a ball backwards to safety instead of whipping in a cross to a teammate was veteran-like.
JOE CORONA (5.5)
Forced to defend more than he probably would have liked, Corona did well in helping Evans out on the right flank after replacing Bedoya.
SACHA KLJESTAN (5.5)
Filling in for Jones, Kljestan provided a bit more tidiness in midfield as the U.S. closed out the game.
MICHAEL PARKHURST (6)
Came on to provide some defense late and did just that in his 10 minutes on the field.
BOBBY WOOD (N/R)
A late cameo off the bench for the young forward marked his international debut, but he did not have enough time to see much of the ball or make an impact.
(Editor’s Note- When it comes to grades and dealing with matches that can be considered ‘perfect score-worthy’ traditionally a perfect 10 is reserved for an elite performance against a top opponent in an important match (World Cup/World Cup qualifier). Altidore had as good a game as you could ask for in a friendly, but in the end it was a friendly, so we won’t give a perfect 10 in that circumstance. Others can choose to grade that situation differently, but that is how we at SBI handle that end of the scale. — Ives Galarcep)
What do you think of these grades? Which player do you feel deserved a higher grade? Who do you think we were too generous with?
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