Stiff test against Bosnia & Herzegovina to serve as measuring stick for several USMNT hopefuls

USMNT Training Sarajevo

Photo by ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

Before the U.S. Men’s National Team turn the page on what has been a successful summer and set their sights towards the remaining World Cup qualifiers in the fall, they will have an opportunity to further gauge themselves against one of the more in-form teams in Europe.

The United States is set to end its jam-packed summer in Sarajevo on Wednesday, as they put their record 11-game winning streak up against a strong Bosnia & Herzegovina team that includes the likes of Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko, Stuttgart forward Vedad Ibisevic and Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic. Making matters more difficult for U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is that he is without several of his top players due to the nature of this single FIFA fixture date, but there should still be no shortage of hungry Americans looking to boost their stocks ahead of September’s pair of World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico.

Aron Johannsson falls under that category. The young AZ Alkmaar forward had his one-time switch approved by FIFA on Tuesday and is now likely to earn his first cap for the U.S. against Bosnia. Johannsson may not be assured of a start, but Klinsmann has talked about wanting to test the 22-year-old striker in games to see where he stands and Wednesday provides that opportunity, albeit against a team that is undefeated in their World Cup qualifying efforts.

For Johannsson, the chance to play could not have come at a much better time. He is off to a solid start in the Eredivisie campaign, scoring in each of Alkmaar’s first two games of the season (via penalty kicks). That should have him playing with plenty of confidence as he prepares to play in some capacity against a Bosnia back line that will be led by Bayer Leverkusen defender Emir Spahic.

There may be plenty of eyeballs on Johannsson on Wednesday, but he is not the only dual-national who will grabbing attention. John Anthony Brooks is also set to earn his first cap for the U.S., a big coup for U.S. Soccer considering Germany was recently expressing interest in the 20-year-old centerback that has begun to establish himself as a professional with Hertha Berlin.

While Brooks boasts an impressive combination of size, strength and skill, he is still very inexperienced, especially at the international level. Wednesday may be too soon to give him his first start since he is still learning how the U.S. plays and who his teammates are, but it is likely Brooks steps on the field at some point to measure himself against quality attackers like Dzeko and Pjanic.

The match vs. Bosnia will not only be about integrating new blood, however. Players like Alejandro Bedoya, Joe Corona, Mix Diskerud, Edgar Castillo and Terrence Boyd who are the fringes of the full national team will be trying to state their case to Klinsmann ahead of September’s games, and making a good impression on Wednesday could prove vital to their chances of being included on next month’s roster.

Danny Williams is another player who will need to impress, as the depth in the U.S. midfield is seemingly at an all-time high. Williams was unable to showcase himself in the May-June camp due to injury, which combined with the standout showings of several players during the Gold Cup in July may have pushed him back on the depth chart, and he will need to perform well in the likely substitute role he is given if he wants to keep his name in the conversation.

The statuses of Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Tim Howard and Fabian Johnson may be more clear for the next round of qualifiers, but the five players will represent the core group that will need to help carry the U.S. against Bosnia. Altidore, especially, will be counted upon to shoulder the attacking load in the absences of Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan, but the Sunderland forward should be up for the challenge seeing as he is playing some of the best soccer in his career (he has scored in four straight games for the U.S.) and is facing a Bosnian defense that is still growing.

The Americans will surely try and push the tempo from the opening whistle as they search for win No. 12, but Bosnia has proven in recent times to be no slouch. That is why Wednesday is not solely about the U.S. trying to extend their winning streak, but also about trying to identify which players are best suited to help the team do so, now and in the near future.

This entry was posted in Featured, U.S. Men's National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to Stiff test against Bosnia & Herzegovina to serve as measuring stick for several USMNT hopefuls

  1. mb says:

    too many sexual puns in that title.

  2. 2 OKC teams 1 cup says:

    I think it would be more surprising if Ream started ahead of Brooks.

  3. biff says:

    If Edgar, Eddie, Brad and Joe do not start after flying all the way to Europe after their summer WCQ/Gold Cup contributions then I am gonna be pi$$ed off. And if Ream starts ahead of Brooks as a central defender then we know that Tim was brought to this camp for one reason and one reason only: To be sacrificed in the first half before Brooks is brought in during the second half after Bosnia tires and subs in their lesser players.

    Cannot wait for this game and this is the starting line-up I wanna see and I especially wanna see Mix Diskerud come in early as a sub. I really like this guy now and think he stands a chance to make WC 2014.

    ————Jozy———–

    Castillo—–Eddie—-Corona

    ———–MB—-Jones———-

    Fabian–Brooks–Cameron–Evans

    • Adam says:

      Eddie Johnson as a #10? Have we seen that before…ever?

      • biff says:

        Well, Adam. do you really think Eddie is going to stand in that central location like a statue throughout the game? Or do you think there will be some movement on the field? Does this make you feel better?

        ————Jozy—-Eddie——-

        Castillo————————Corona
        ————-MB—-Jones———-

        Fabian–Brooks–Cameron–Evans

        OR THIS?

        ————–Jozy————-

        ————–Eddie——-

        Castillo————————Corona
        ————MB—-Jones———-

        Fabian–Brooks–Cameron–Evans

        it’s all the same. I happen to like 4-2-3-1 formations and where it goes from there.

        • Nate Dollars says:

          biff, if you like the 4-2-3-1, then corona would fit into your att-mid/withdrawn striker slot. corona’s more of a attacking mid than a winger, so it might be more likely that he’s in the center with eddie out wide.

          • biff says:

            I take your point, but I thought Corona showed well at right mid during the Gold Cup before Bedoya took over. I like Eddie a lot, but he has never convinced me as a winger and I thought he was downright bad on right wing in the Gold Cup.

            • biff says:

              *at left wing*

            • Nate Dollars says:

              ‘he has never convinced me as a winger’

              well, hell no, me either, but it seems klinsmann likes playing eddie out wide.

              i see the point though, which is that corona is better out wide than eddie. i just don’t see eddie in the supporting striker role.

    • biff says:

      And will add that I would not be surprised to see Jermaine Jones start today as a central defender, you know, one of Jurgen’s famous surprises he likes to pull. Would depend on how Cameron looked in training after not really playing the position the past year. Cause I would be shocked to see Ream start at CB.

    • Indeed says:

      I think we may see Corona playing Centrally and EJ playing wider and higher. B&H has some good wingers, so having someone with EJ’s speed playing wide will atleast keep that side’s fullback honest and prevent a possinle 2v1 with our fullback Corona, while a good player, does not really give you width.

      As for Castillo, I really don’t think he starts. That spot will probably go to Bedoya.

    • Colin in MT says:

      I think you’re right on Biff.

      I understand there’s still 11 months until the WC and a lot can happen, but I feel like this is Castillo’s last shot to get on the team. He didn’t play in the last WCQ’s and he didn’t play much in the Gold Cup.

    • 2 OKC teams 1 cup says:

      With the lack of established playmakers on this roster I think JK will have to play FJ at Left mid. Plus klinsmann likes to throw guys in the deep end, and what better way than putting one of our untested LCBs out there with Castillo..

      • biff says:

        While I think Fabian is much better defensively at LB than Castillo, I think Castillo is as good if not better than Fabian as an attacker. As for playmakers, I think today we see MB and JJ90Y step and up and take on some big-time responsibility for the attack–and here’s hoping that when one of them attacks the other minds his defensive duties.

        • 2 OKC teams 1 cup says:

          I dunno.. Don’t think it’s a coincidence the attack has been much improved since FJ moved up. I agree FJ is a better LB, hes also just an overall better, more complete player.

          As for the midfield, it seems JJ takes the liberty to get foward more often, forcing MB to be disciplined and be the one who stays back. I wish it were the opposite, Bradley should get forward more with JJ staying back. Thats why bradley was so impressive vs Panama, geoff cameron allowed him to push up more, something JJ doesn’t seem inclined to do

          • biff says:

            Oh, yeah, I forgot about Fabian’s help in all those goals we scored in the Gold Cup :-)

            But seriously, Fabian did not impress me so much in WCQ as left mid. I think it’s crazy if he does not play left back, while reserving the right to change my opinion if he would start playing exclusively LM this season at offenheim

            JJ can also attack and he has done so at Schalke. Let’s not forget his great goal in the Champions League against Galatasaray. I think MB and JJ can share attacking duties.

          • Nate Dollars says:

            Our attack hasn’t improved ‘since FJ moved up’, it’s when we changed formations (from 4231 to a 4411/442).

            you’ll notice that our attack has done just as well (and, incidentally, fabian provided just as much offensively) when he’s lined up at left back recently.

            • 2 OKC teams 1 cup says:

              Disagree. Recently (before the gold cup) Beasley has been LB..since FJ moved up.

              Also the formations are all basically the same, two interchanging center mids, two wingers, two guys up top, usually with one withdrawn closer to midfield. They way its spelled out on paper doesnt really matter on the field

              • Nate Dollars says:

                yeah, meant to say we moved from a 4-4-3 (often with 3 d-mids), not a 4-2-3-1. and really, it’s the style that klinsmann changed, where we’re moved in quick transitions, rather than slow, patient buildup.

                and i know that beasley has been mostly playing LB, but what i was saying is that, even when fabian does start at LB, our team’s offensive production (and his, specifically) doesn’t drop, because it’s due to the way we’re playing now, not his position on the field.

    • louis z says:

      I think EJ will be our LW in this game. We have Wood and AJ to play the SS.

  4. blokhin says:

    if not Brooks, who starts at CB with Cameron? Ream? Parkhurst?

    • Beto says:

      I think Brooks has to start. Ream, Parkhurst and Williams?are the other options..

      I hope he ready

      • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

        I’d hate to throw a 20 year old kid making his first appearance to the wolves like that. I’d rather see Ream get the start and maybe some minutes for Brooks at some point.

        • Ali Dia says:

          While I certainly hope it doesn’t happen, I do think there is a considerable chance that Brooks gets absolutely clowned if he starts. For a 20 year old kid who has barely played a match of topflight soccer, and who is working around an entirely new group, to ask him to step in and deal with Bonsia’s very strong attack seems a very big ask.

  5. Dennis says:

    I think it is pretty clear that Evans, EJ, Castillo and Corrona will start, else why have them take a 12 hour (or longer) trip? A question is will Castillo play left mid or left back? I suppose it will be at mid, but JK has surprised me before. With the dearth of CBs, Brooks, Ream and Cameron could each get at least a half. It seems unlikely that Bradley, Jones and probably Altidore will play less than 75 minutes if JK wants to win and that likely means Diskerud and Boyd will be used only as late subs. AJ will likely sub in a bit earlier, but not sure if JK sees him as a replacement for EJ or for one of the outside mids.

    • louis z says:

      I see AJ playing the SS in today’s game. Not sure who JK is going to start at that position. Since Bedoya played the ACM for his previous team maybe we see him starting there.

    • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho says:

      I think its pretty clear we don’t care about the result. Individual performances will be the big takeaway from this game. This is our last chance to test out a few guys who are on the fringes of the squad before the next set of qualifiers. A good performance from Bedoya, Corona, Evans, Kljestan, Diskerud, Boyd ect could mean a chance to play quality minutes in September. Don’t think we will see more than 45-60 mins from some of the main guys in order to see who can step up.

  6. Brett says:

    Will today go down as the day we got Subotic (Brooks) and Rossi (Johannson) back? Probably a little early for the comparison but a little wishful speculation is good tonic.

  7. Beto says:

    I see this game being similar to the last two times we travelled to Eastern Europe.. High scoring draw.

  8. over there says:

    Having watched many a FK Sarajevo game at Olympic Stadium, I can say that that place is a dump, but the atmosphere should be great.

  9. bryan says:

    really looking forward to this game!

  10. biff says:

    Anyone wanting a good laugh before the game should check out this video. The punch line is the slow motion toward the end.

    Nose Bite
    link to youtube.com

  11. CPTKevin says:

    Franco… English class… did ya’ pass it?

    “they will have an opportunity to further gauge themselves against of the more in-form teams in Europe.”

    Try… “against ONE of the more” (which is what I think you meant to type).

    “but their should still be no shortage of hungry Americans looking to boost their stocks”

    their or there?!?!

    And lastly, “The statuses of Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Tim Howard and Fabian Johnson may be more clear for the next round of qualifiers”

    more clear? really?!?! not, “clearer”?!

    Just busting your chops. Like your articles… keep up the good work.

    • Del Griffin says:

      Look! A dick! ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    • malkin says:

      1st one (the lack of “one”) is clearly a typo.

      2nd one (“their”) is clearly correct. You just made yourself out to be an idiot. I would have made “stocks” singular, however.

      3rd one (“clearer” vs. “more clear”) can go either way as both are acceptable.

      • Seattle Coug says:

        You’re looking at the wrong “their” in the second, he’s correct in noting it as an error.

    • Artie says:

      Typos happen. I’m more concerned about the bizarre use of ‘albeit’ toward the end of Franco’s third paragraph. I do not think it means what you think it means…

  12. mb says:

    Article preview:

    Stiff test against Bosnia & Herzegovina to serve as measuring stick for several USMNT hopefuls

    The United States is set to end its jam-packed summer. Their should still be no shortage of hungry Americans looking to boost their stocks. Aron Johannsson falls under that category. The young AZ Alkmaar forward had his one-time switch. There may be plenty of eyeballs on Johannsson on Wednesday, but he is not the only dual-national who will grabbing attention. While Brooks boasts an impressive combination of size, strength and skill, he is still very inexperienced, especially at the international level. He is facing a Bosnian defense that is still growing. The Americans will surely try and push the tempo.

  13. Mug says:

    Hasn’t Ream been playing some left back at Bolton? Maybe JK tries him out there.

  14. allouez86 says:

    anyone know where I can watch the game online while at work?

    • Dennis says:

      ESPN3

    • Peter says:

      If don’t have a cable system that is available through espn3 you won’t be able to watch it. but if you speak spanish or don’t mind the announcing in spanish you can watch the game on unimas regardless of cable provider.

  15. CJinOC says:

    forgot to set my dvr! man that was the first thought i had this morning too…

    epic fail!

  16. biff says:

    Howard ©; Evans, Cameron, Brooks, F. Johnson; Bradley, Jones; Bedoya, Diskerud, E. Johnson; Altidore