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Late Cole Bassett goal helps USMNT set new wins record

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The U.S. men’s national team’s last game of 2021 brought a few new faces into the fold, including Colorado Rapids youngster Cole Bassett, who capped his USMNT debut with a winning goal to close the year out in record-setting fashion.

Bassett struck in the 89th minute off a rebound of a shot from fellow USMNT debutant Jonathan Gomez to help give the USMNT a 1-0 victor at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

The friendly win caps off an exceptionally successful 2021 for the USMNT. The squad won the 2021 Nations League with an epic victory over Mexico, then went on to win the 2021 Gold Cup before following that up with a strong start to World Cup Qualifying.

The victory helped the Americans set a new record for victories in a calendar year with 17, and the team’s 17-2-3 record set a new mark for highest winning percentage in a calendar year.

The USMNT played the second half on Saturday up a man, after a red card for Bosnian midfielder Amar Begic in the 40th minute left Bosnia and Herzegovina shorthanded.

The red card helped the USMNT dominate possession, with a 73.5% edge, and threaten Bosnia with 10 shots and three shots on goal. However, Bosnia managed nine shots with three on target through only 26% of possession.

Much of the USMNT’s attacking play, especially in the first half, came from Jordan Morris, who made his first USMNT cap since Nov. 20, 2019. Morris suffered an ACL injury that kept him out the entire MLS regular season, but thrived down the right wing in Saturday’s game. He directed a cross toward goal during the first half, but Bosnian goalkeeper Nicola Cetkovic made a point-blank save.

USMNT fans saw a handful of young players in the friendly. Brooks Lennon earned his first career USMNT cap with a start at right back. Bryan Reynolds, a 20-year-old right back who plays for AS Roma, also earned his first cap when he entered the match as a substitute for Lennon in the 62nd minute.

San Jose Earthquakes attacker Cade Cowell and Bassett also entered in the 78th minute for their USMNT debuts. Gomez, a former Louisville City FC player who recently transferred to Spain’s Real Sociedad, entered the match to make his USMNT debut in the 84th minute.

Berhalter brought new faces on with substitutions, but started more familiar players. Acosta, whose 21st appearance in 2021 makes him the first USMNT player since 1994 to earn 21 caps in a calendar year, started alongside experienced players such as Matt Turner, Christian Roldan and Walker Zimmerman.

Comments

  1. I get the desire to have core MLS players (Turner, Zimmerman, Bello, Roldan, Acosta, Pepi, Zardes, etc…) that Gregg rates in this camp and even starting the game. However, after the first 45 minutes of lack-luster play and a Red Card to the opposition, Gregg should have switched thing up and given some of the new faces some time.
    The objective of fitness and game time had been achieved by halftime. They weren’t going to get much more out of the game than they already had. Waiting so long to make changes was a lost opportunity and could negatively impact our ability recruit/integrate some of our younger options. Gregg waited to the 86th minute to insert a duel national prospect at a position of need, who’s also being pursued by your biggest rival is the type of management skills I take exception to. Gregg praised Booth in the camp, but never used him in the game. Morris was gassed by the 60th, but Gregg held off using Cowell until the 78th. These types of coaching decisions are what is so frustrating with Gregg and make people like me question if he’s up to the task of managing this team.

    Reply
    • If you look at the guys that played very minor minutes or no minutes they are either returning to teams in January or joining a new team playing in January.
      Clark:DNP joining RBL
      Henry:DNP only 17
      Che: DNP perhaps heading back to Bayern
      JoGo: 6 mins, on his way to Spain this week
      BReynolds: 28 mins going back to Europe
      TBooth: at least going back to Bayern II maybe another Jan loan
      Trusty: either the 4th CB or 3rd LB
      Bassett: a lot of rumors not sure he’ll go anywhere this winter but that poachers goal won’t hurt, could see him in the Netherlands.
      ————————
      I think the frustrating part was Berhalter has really played a ton of young players and then this most meaningless of games he goes chalk.

      Reply
    • “These types of coaching decisions are what is so frustrating with Gregg and make people like me question if he’s up to the task of managing this team.”

      This manager has been in place for three years and 44 games.

      That figure. 44 games, in terms of game and practice time, is approximately what you’d do in roughly one year with a club depending on the league and on how good they are ( better clubs go further in cup competitions and get more games.).

      This manager had no experience as a national team manager. He’s a club manager running the team like a club. To date, he’s shown he is intent on staying that way.

      This is one way to explain his willingness to stay with his core players regardless of our perception of their relative ineptitude. He’s more concerned with his perception of “continuity”.

      The way it seems to work is his “continuity core”, the usual suspects ( Lletget, Ariolla, Acosta, Roldan, ad nauseam, ) are there for as many games as possible, whenever possible. That’s his the real team. That’s why they are in this Bosnia H game, an otherwise throw away friendly.

      When the big gigs come up he brings in his “Eurostar player core” (the usual suspects). This approach may well account for their inconsistency.

      On the other hand it has worked well enough to where it would be a miracle if they did NOT qualify for the World Cup.

      This is how it looks when you are inconsistent but your opposition is exceptionally awful. No matter how wacky this manager has been, he can rely on having some weakling opponent to beat up on and save his blushes.

      The theory behind his approach makes some sense but it relies on two things:

      1. The quality of the players of both “cores”
      2.The quality of his management, both tactical and strategic.

      What will happen when they actually face good opposition in the World Cup? The USMNT is an inconsistent team who have never been punched in the face by a team who could back it up. No one knows how they will react.

      The good news is the quality of both “cores” is only getting better, no thanks to the manager.

      The bad news is the manager’s tactical and strategic quality remains inconsistent and occasionally, bad.

      There are instances of national teams where the quality of the players is so great that they can render the flaws of the manager irrelevant . El Tri when Chicharito was in his prime, for example.

      This edition of the USMNT is NOT such an instance. The player pool quality is better than it was but it’s not THAT talented

      This is a long way of saying that it’s been three years. You and everyone else know who and what this manager is.

      He’s not changing, in great part because the USSF, as far as I can tell, does not appear to be interested in him changing.

      You are wasting your frustration. You’re stuck with this manager until probably the end of the 2026 World Cup.

      Reply
  2. I only saw the late moments of the 2nd half and haven’t been able to go back and watch the match yet. How was Johnny in the midfield?

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  3. “The victory helped the Americans set a new record for victories in a calendar year with 17, and the team’s 17-2-3 record set a new mark for highest winning percentage in a calendar year.”

    In science that’s what you call an artifact.

    They have a new record for victories because they have played more games,
    competitive and friendly, in 2021 calendar year than the USMNT used to play in a calendar year.

    There was the new Nations League and the pandemic caused CONCACAF to add more games to the WC qualifiers and compress the time frame of when they were played.

    For example:

    # games USMNT played (all types)

    2015 20
    2016 19
    2017 19
    2018 11
    2019 18
    2020 4
    2021 22

    And in 2021 they also played teams that they were supposed to beat except for Mexico.

    And Mexico, while still a capable team, turned out to be a not very good team. They might even wind up in the playoff spot or worse.

    Winning is always better than losing but holding that record is not something the USMNT should get overly excited about. It means they played a lot of crap teams. More games + weak opposition is a good formula if you want to set a record for most wins in a calendar year.

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    • It was a little weird how Fox kept talking about it. I think they were trying to drum up future ratings but it’s not like a ton of casual fans were watching that blahfest. It’s not all US Soccers fault though the schedule this year has been pretty set by Concacaf and limited by UEFA and Conmebol qualifying. Actually the US was criticized by many for scheduling Switzerland. I thought I heard it was the 5th most matches but the best ever winning percentage tells you it wasn’t just more games. The federation is going to have to get creative next cycle to find games without qualification. Perhaps join a UEFA group like Qatar did this time.

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      • I don’t know where it’s at right now but there is usually a standing invite to Copa America.

        I’m not blaming the USSF for the cupcake schedule , I’m pointing out that this team has yet to be seriously, legitimately, tested. If they get an England, Italy, France, etc. in a bad mood in their WC group , they way they are now they could get taken apart.

        You’re not going to become a serious WC contender if all you do is spend time beating up on the likes of CONCACAF opposition, especially with an in experienced manager.

        They don’t have what a “signature” against a rated opponent. Mexico was supposed to at least provide some kind of test but I found them to be a fraud, a paper tiger. Mexico are in transition and if they do not get better quickly, they might be in the playoff or even out of the WC.

      • I don’t think Mexico is as bad as you think. They might have made the semifinals or further if only the WC had been in 2020. They were on fire at the start of Tata’s tenure but have had injuries at key positions and haven’t developed some of those youth stars that shown so bright. Just playing Araujo at RB makes them better, but they need CB help. Gregg may be inexperienced but he navigated the compacted 2021 schedule far better than Tata who overworked his aging roster and failed to bring along younger alternatives. All that matters for both managers though is the next 6 matches.

      • “I don’t think Mexico is as bad as you think.”

        How bad is bad?

        They’ve lost three in a row to the USMNT and haven’t looked particularly engaged in any of the games. If they can’t beat the USMNT when it matters how messed up are they going to be in the World Cup? If they get there, they will likely meet better teams.

        If I’m an El Tri fan, that should be bad enough for me.

        Right now the USMNT, Panama and Canada seem to want this more than El Tri. So yeah, I think they could be in trouble.

        ” They might have made the semifinals or further if only the WC had been in 2020.”

        Timing is everything isn’t it? Too bad for them the WC wasn’t in 2020. Meantime, back in the real world , El Tri have to deal with being two years older and maybe not caring so much anymore.

        I’m not an expert on the El Tri talent pool but does Tata have younger alternatives to bring along? How does that pipeline look?

        There has been little pressure on the USMNT manager to win, certainly not from the media who appear to be largely tentative. And when there has been, they have not faced any significantly decent opposition.

        I don’t know that the politics and pressures for Tata are the same but at first glance, El Tri looks like a very “political” situation . Would Jozy and Michael Bradley still be playing if they were Mexican? I don’t know.
        Would the USMNT manager have done as well as Tata has if he had that job? I don’t think they are the same circumstances.

        Our younger alternatives clearly have a lot more going for them than their elders, though Ariolla, Lletget, Roldan, Long, Acosta, Yueill and the like still apparently have a shot at the Qatar roster.

        As I see it the USMNT were lucky enough to benefit by being in the right place at the right time what with all these good young players now actually playing regularly in Europe and developing in Philly, Dallas and Arizona. Our kids are better than El Tri’s ( at least for now) and El Tri’s old guard, and I do mean old, can’t make up for that.

  4. Play all of the kids. Everyone knows what Zardes, Roldan, Acosta, Yueil, Zim can do. Morris has some speed on the wing and has upside. This game meant zip, play the noobs to see what you’ve got in the pipeline.

    Reply
    • That’s not what this was about though. This was having guys on the radar like Clark, Cowell, Gomez or Che if they have a breakout year before Qatar they have been in the group and can be called next winter. The guys who played are guys that could be asked to fill in for one of the starters in Jan or Mar if need be and need to maintain some semblance of match fitness and sharpness. It was another data point that we need more creative players in MF because playing 3 6\8s just allows weaker opponents to play with us.

      Reply
  5. Is what it is. If you thought this match/camp was about evaluating/giving opportunities to new prospects, you’ll very disappointed. This was always about a way to get a runout for MLS players GB considers core: Pepi, Zimmerman, Acosta, Roldan, Yueill. Personally- I’d have loved to use the opportunity to find new options and depth at positions we are obviously thin at- a look at young talent we haven’t seen. However- it has been clear all along by reading behind the lines of what Berhalter was saying- that was not the priority. It’s as obvious as obvious can be that we struggle with creativity in GBs system even with our best line-up. Acosta and Roldan, Yueill… we can add Arriola Lletget- we are downright impotent- incapable of creating anything from the run of play. Its literally never happened in how many attempts? Nothing new- zero learned from this match by or about the manager or players. It was a fitness run.

    Reply
    • this is the only rest period before the next world cup for MLS players, then. has a logic, yes, not a good one. i think it was worthwhile to take away the rest from the rehab players or noobs. trade off for being outside looking in. but the people we already knew about were either a waste of time or will be exhausted in november. they’ll get about 2-3 weeks before we call them in for january friendly prep, off to MLS camp, back to the last quali, back to MLS, etc. i think he thinks the newer capped guys like pepi and zimmermann would be less tired somehow because they got brought in later, except they played a full year of MLS, too.

      i also think it makes more sense to call in january camp players early after a rest as opposed to call in send away call in. i give them some credit this is an innovative scheduling approach i just would have spent it on reynolds etc. instead. i don’t think bello etc. helps one bit and worse it encourages you to unlearn previous lessons and call them back.

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  6. I have enjoyed the victories over Mexico but can fans and media please be more grounded and realize the weak opposition we have faced this past year?
    Mexico aside, what legit national team has the usmnt actually beaten? By legit I mean a team that would probably make it past group state in a world cup… We had a good year beating below average teams with some good games vs Mexico. But aside from Switzerland we really didn’t face any good opponents. Can we be honest 5 minutes? I know we have to focus on Conacacaf, but we also need friendlies vs the top tier teams or the world cup is going to be a rude awakening, should we qualify. I hope USSF is planning to set up games of a higher caliber.

    Reply
    • Qualifying and NL in other regions has made friendlies next to impossible. We’ve played Wales and Northern Ireland as well but with UEFA in competitions we usually get the 2nd string while their starters rest for their match later in the window. The summer should provide a couple stiffer tests if we don’t have to play New Zealand.

      Reply
      • Nations League was designed , in part to provide the “lesser teams” in the various confederations with more competitive matches. The hope is that it will help make those programs more competitive and it should work.

        As you point out though, the trade off is that there is less time for the “bigger teams” to schedule friendlies.

        However, the Nations League is a tournament and just practicing the format of tournament play and the condensed schedule, regardless of the quality of your opponents, is important practice for national teams.

        It could be argued that friendlies have limited worth in terms of prepping a team like the USMNT for competitive games because the competitive atmosphere in such games is fairly limited. You’re not going to get their A team lineup with their World Cup game face in place for all 90 minutes.

        For the USMNT, the answer could be more participation in tougher tournaments such as Copa America. This has long been possible but there are a whole number of political considerations that complicate things.

  7. as with many camp cupcake games it’s primarily about the players who show well making a first choice case, more so than a result (though i think it says something about selection or talent depth whether your B/C team dominates or ties). i thought zimmerman and turner looked good but that doesn’t really add anything new. i thought morris made a helpful case for forward inclusion and could help at any of the three spots. i thought bassett, gomez, and reynolds look good among noobs. i thought zardes outplayed pepi who has gone cold and made poor decisions such as which foot to shoot with or whether to crash the box on plays where the ball ended up scooting through. i thought the starting wingbacks were meh. ferreira had many giveaways. johnny didn’t look very lively.

    i thought first half vs second half suggested to me he had the talent evaluated backwards. i also didn’t see the point of several of his disappointing regulars (yeuill, roldan, acosta, bello).

    Reply
    • by negative implication that aaron long wasn’t involved says he won’t be part of qualifying. morris by contrast got abundant PT and looked healthy and fairly fit. i will be curious how many of the others GB either assesses correctly ( i think he is slow to adjust his paper ideas to game play) or brings back for first choice qualifying but morris was a starter before who plays need positions and looked dominant. you need to be dominant in this type game to scale up to the real deal.

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      • I dont know how anyone could think Aaron Long would be called in for important wcq when he has tet to play any competitive games, or any games in succession for that matter. He needs to play some club games before he’s reeled back in imo

      • Morris had a total of 2 MLS regular season games plus one playoff appearance. By your logic Morris should have been left out as well. I think players who aren’t rehabbed enough or having aggravation problems or who have dropped off, fine. I think players who have healed and can play should get this kind of chance. If you don’t want to risk them in quali games first, this is the perfect throwaway friendly to trial them in. By following my approach we net one guy playing well as opposed to assume both are unfit and rusty. Half Berhalter’s problem is making decisions on paper rather than on reality, and I wish he experimented more instead of wasting some of the caps on crappy regulars. But I’ll give him some credit that Morris and Long got to give it a go, it worked out win some lose some, but we’ll be better at winger for this modest risk. I get your point about putting him in quali cold but the whole point is this game offers you a warmup game. My beef is more he wasted our time giving Bello and Yeuill yet another mulligan. Accept what your eyes tell you.

    • Yueill is not a regular, that disinformation and you know it. When is the last time Yueill has played in a competitive game for the senior team, I’ll wait?!

      Reply
      • By regular I meant something closer to Berhalter Favorite. Yeuill got several starts during the pandemic, started Honduras NL, started Haiti GC, but basically played his way off the team. But he obviously is still a coach’s favorite to get this instead of someone else. To be fair to me, he was in the 27-man for the first quali games. My point is why can’t the favorite scrubs get/stay cut? He sucks. Give someone else the only friendly for several months to prove they could help.

        Lame, nitpicking response. You know exactly what I mean and you know why he is a wasted pick. And you know perfectly well he was starting last summer and called in for quali. This is not Julian Green or Duane Holmes who he hasn’t played in years. He was starting for this team in July and could barely beat Haiti.

      • “Yueill is not a regular, that disinformation and you know it.”

        Yueill has 16 caps since 2019. All under this manager.

        Tyler Adams has 13 caps under this manager.

        This manager has managed 44 USMNT games.

        Jackson may or may not be a “regular” but it’s pretty clear that it doesn’t take much for him to get called in.

      • He’s been called in for one qualifier when Wes was suspended, and Gio, Dest, and Weah were injured. He only got called because he could be on a plane in time. He was called into this camp because most players were unavailable hardly a sign he’s back in the mix or a favorite.

      • JohnnyR,

        You know looking back a what you wrote, if it is accurate, and I have no reason to think it isn’t, it is a pretty awful thing to say about the USMNT.

        Yueill has 15 more caps than he should have . That a guy like him gets on the field at all says terrible things about the player pool.

  8. Some record….. a late goal against a 10 mAN, u-23 team, Not the first cupcake game in GB’s record. All in all, we were terrible and didnt deserve the win. I think the goal was the only shot in the second half…. despite being a man up. Oh wait, we had Roldan on…. guess things were even

    Reply
    • Roldan completed 85% of his 68 passes, won 6 of 9 duels, had two tackles and eight recoveries.

      That… doesn’t seem so detrimental that it’s akin to playing a man down.

      Is there something I couldn’t see — something really egregious — or do you just not like Roldan?

      Reply
      • what is the positive case for roldan? i am disinterested in passing stats that don’t amount to assists or goals. on a more basic level, i have seen 1 or 2 impact plays in like 3 years of caps. meanwhile we are leaving off dudes like green, holmes, and others. like i put green on the field and he’s scored on belgium and france. your response is some vague numbers.

        side point i think we’re picking mids and sometimes even forwards for supposed defense which is silly. if your aggressive formation makes you so nervous you pick attacking players to track back then maybe play a more balanced formation and pick attackers to attack.

      • JR: you know perfectly well this is not a one time thing, and to me it’s more important he will not just get called here but also called for quali at the expense of other players. it’s a fair point that it wouldn’t have been green or holmes this time but there were plenty of MLS mids available worth trialing. he has like 2 positive plays in years that i can remember. he will not just steal this cap but also be a useless late game sub when the games count. normally if someone is going to get a precious late game mexico sub it’s because they came off the bench and won some games, not because they are the head-scratcher equivalent of olsen to arena or bornstein to bradley — and bornstein at least had that one play that got him carved into statue in honduras.

      • IV are there really plenty of MLS MFs to call instead though? Williamson is hurt, Pomykal was largely ineffective this season, Mihailovic is in Italy in trial, Dotson and Servania were average at best. Roldan had 6g 6a in MLS this season no other American MF could match that besides Djordje who wasn’t available. They said they tried to get Sonora but his club said no. The finalists weren’t available so no Sands or Parks. I ‘d rather have seen Bassett longer or Clark but it’s not like there was much else out there.

      • David,

        I’m not concerned about his stats. Statistically, Roldan did well.

        But this was a young squad facing a 10 man team ( for most , 50 minutes, of the game ) who did not seem to draw much inspiration from midfield veteran Christian.

        He certainly did not seem to help them get organized enough to take advantage of their numerical superiority.

        Would the team have been better off had he not been there? I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like he made any difference.

        I barely noticed him. He wasn’t as far as I remember, involved in the goal.

        From a veteran centerback or goalkeeper, boring no drama is good.

        From a midfielder? With a young team vs. a wounded crap team? I expect more from a veteran midfield player than not doing anything especially wrong.

      • JR: the flaw in quoting roldan stats is you could have done something similar for each of these 3 years and it’s never translated. at that point you’re indulging in my concern about “club form” to the indifference of “NT form.” he’s already been scouted and called before on his numbers a la wondo. live up to it or clear out of the way.

        you also seemed to suggest we had no other options only to backpedal to the guy scoring the winner, who looked good and has ok numbers, was viable. verges self refuting. as well as cowell who looked meh but the idea to me when we have a friendly amid the business is kick the tires on people we haven’t seen and formed a pretty definite opinion about. you give some chances, morris is good, long doesn’t dress. bassett plays well, cowell meh. we can sort out some actual alternative options, some of whom looked better than roldan, and not get stuck in the annoying “experience” loop where people play because they played before and miss because they haven’t been tried yet.

        fwiw the play of a handful of the kids suggests it’s simply not true the pool is well-sorted yet. we have some previously injured, or low club PT, or haven’t seen em players, making a case. That to me says the rule of thumb being deployed — we have plenty of good players identified and know which ones play well — isn’t accurate. to me the fact we routinely have people go huge in the 3rd game of a window or second half of a game says he doesn’t have this properly sorted at all. to me the fact so many of these players are U23 we have to stay busier figuring out who can really play and/or who is growing into senior ball. eg reynolds can obviously play regardless what his poor club situation is.

      • So IV I noticed you wrote all that and didn’t name one CM that was available to play instead of Roldan. What are the odds that someone who is average in MLS would just miraculously play well in International competition because that’s what your suggesting we do. I think Sebastian Berhalter was available should he have gotten a chance.

      • JRazor,

        “So IV I noticed you wrote all that and didn’t name one CM that was available to play instead of Roldan.”

        Perhaps you disagree but I see Roldan and Yueill as having shown what they have to offer at the international “level ” a long time ago and it is not a compelling viewing. This game did not make their presentation any stronger.

        None of us, you, me, or IV are responsible or properly equipped for finding alternatives to Roldan or Yueill.

        The manager is. That’s his job.

        IV’s failure to name a suitable alternative for Yueill or Roldan or any of these placeholders does not detract one iota from his point, which is Why TF is valuable game and evaluation time being wasted on those guys?

        All that game did was show that Jordan is coming along nicely. That’s great but perhaps they could have learned more.

    • ignorant commenrs like these dont age well fortunately….don’t exactly know what you were expecting from a group of players who havent been in actual game form for months, the game played out like people with some perspective expected, sloppy and hard to watch. What I did see is what we’ve seen from Berhalter teams over the last year or so, which is continuing to fight and be scrappy when things aren’t going well, but more importantly we saw a bigger staple of his regime of late and that’s scoring goals late for winners! Focusing on opponents when most leagues are going on right now is stupid and insinuates a need to criticize for nothing, and that record is nothing to diminish considering this year has had more competitive matches than any previous iteration of the USMNT

      Reply
      • I’m not going to get hysterical about it, but there is no way to spin this game as anything besides a poor result. B & H had something like 10 caps spread across an entirely domestic roster. A USL all-star team would have been competitive against this Bosnian side.

        This was basically a repeat of the 2018 0-0 draw against B & H: Same stadium, same attendance (117 person difference), similar shot numbers, the same boring play. Morris was man of the match in the 2018 game and arguably should have been MotM of this game to. The only difference is the US had much higher possession numbers this time.

        Maybe there is something to be said about MLS being out of season, but these matches paint a pretty ugly picture about USSoccer’s ability to prepare players for competitive matches.

        Also, it’s worth looking at B & H’s roster from 2018. The goalie and Medunjanan were the only regulars B & H had on that roster. Besides them, only three Bosnians from that 2018 game played a later role for their national team (Todorovic Saric, Menalo) and none of those three are particularly close to being first choice players. This isn’t a case where in hindsight we will look back and be like “ooh if only we knew this guy was Bayern’s next striker, and this guy was going to lead Leeds back to competitiveness.” This was a bad Bosnian roster, made up of players who will mostly be journeymen in the various Balkan national leagues.

      • ” record is nothing to diminish considering this year has had more competitive matches than any previous iteration of the USMNT”

        Ridiculous. They played more matches than they used to against the same weaklings. The result? More wins.

        That’s like Alabama football adding more Western Carolina Catamounts to their schedule. The result? 66-3.

        It’s called creampuff scheduling.

        That’s what happens when you always play inferior teams

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