A necessary exercise: USA 0 Bosnia-Herzegovina 0

The US Men’s National team played their first game last night against Bosnia-Herzegovina. The game did little to provide huge fireworks, but it was a necessary exercise for the future of both clubs.

In a match that means nothing for both sides, it’s easy to get a game like the one that was played last night. An international friendly for USA’s Men’s National team against Bosnia-Herzegovina showcased two countries who will be missing out on the World Cup this coming June. The play on the field showed that. Both sides fielded very inexperienced teams; both countries looking for new talent to help build a campaign for a World Cup 2022 run. It may seem weird that these countries’ are already thinking about a tournament eight years in the future, but that’s the goal of the exercise that took place last night. Let’s take a look at why this snoozer of a match is necessary for the growth of both countries going forward.

Interesting starting 11:

The Starting 11 featured an inexperienced group. While it was full of MLS vets, there were few experienced players for the USMNT. The two most experienced players on the pitch for USA were Gyasi Zardes, and Jordan Morris. The rest had little experience playing with each other, and it showed. The way the squad lined up awkwardly as well.

This match was one full of untested players, and coaching alike. USA fielded a starting 11 with three box to box midfielders (Tyler Adams, Will Trapp, and Christian Roldan). The lack of a creative midfielder showed in the performance. There were times where there was a clear gap between the attackers and the central midfielders. This left most of the attacking buildup to the three attackers. Gyasi Zardes tried to get involved on the wings, but found little action. Jordan Morris did little in the first half, and CJ Sapong took it upon himself to start attacking buildups. So as you can guess the first half didn’t go so well.

Analyzing the first half:

The first half was disjointed mess The US had no one in the middle of the field who could push the issue in the midfield. Early on Tyler Adams pushed forward to press Bosnia, but he was never able to sustain an attack. When you don’t play a CAM there is going to be some disjointed play, and CJ Sapong took it upon himself to play the 10 and the nine to create offense in the first half. The defense was strong stuffing out a barrage of long passing from Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Haris Medunjanin. 

Medunjanin and Sapong were the best players on the field for their respective teams in the first half, which should make Union fans very happy!

Changes made:

At the half USA made necessary changes and everyone on the field benefited. A 10 Kelyn Rowe came on for CJ Sapong, a better winger in Paul Arriola came on for Gyasi Zardes and Zack Steffen came on for Bill Hamid. These changes helped change the shape. Morris became a loan striker, Rowe started attacks, and Arriola stayed wide to spread the offense. Adams and Roldan made runs to join the attack, while Will Trap stayed home to snuff out counter attacks.

Later on USA changed again bringing on a second striker Juan Agudelo for holding midfielder Christian Roldan. Now USA used Morris and Agudelo side by side. Rowe moved wider, Arriola stayed wide, and Adams and Trapp held the middle of the field. Moving back to a 4-4-2 formation helped USA structure their attack. Although they couldn’t find a goal, this formation and players yielded the best chances.

Analyzing the second half:

In the second half it was as if the US coaching staff remembered the types of formations that have worked for them. USMNT went  from a 4-3-3 with no attacking midfielder, to adding an attacking midfielder to that type of formation and then to going back to a familiar 4-4-2. It seems like the was to get the most out of their talented central midfielders, but that didn’t work because there wasn’t enough in the attack. As the US went back to what was familiar they were able to control the play. However the only real chance came from Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Bosnia-Herzegovina had a good attacking sequence, and Walker Zimmermann lost his mind and fouled a BIH player in the box. A penalty was awarded, and Haris Medunjanin stepped up. Zack Steffen was in net. The Philadelphia Union midfielder was ready to face the Columbus Crew keeper. As it turned out, Medunjanin beat Steffen; however, he pulled his shot so far that it hit the post and it ricocheted out-of-bounds. That was the best chance for either team, but this one was destined to end nil-nil.

This was a necessary exercise:

The game ended in a less than ideal way, but these games are usually like this. A majority of youngsters/players who had little chances to impress on this stage. This was a match with a coach who won’t be the coach the next time this team calls up players. The tactics will change, and there will be better players in the next match played. All that is to say the result is not the story; the story is who was able to shine.

One player that stood out above the many was Wil Trapp. He wore the captain’s armband and held his own in the middle of the field. The Columbus Crew homegrown was a great ball winner and played good passes to try to create offense for the disjointed team. He could be a promising player moving forward.

Another player who shined was CJ Sapong his willingness to create offense, and outwork the opponent makes him a great attacking option for USA in the future.

Ike Opara held down the defense, snuffing out the opposition’s attack. He was a brick wall at center back. That position has been a question mark for the US in the past two years, Opara could be a player that finds his way into another call up in a game with bigger stakes.

This game meant nothing in terms of the score, and winners and losers. It had everything to do with finding players who could do a great job on a national stage. Some players took the opportunity, and others may not have. Either way there’s now tape on these players for the future coach of the USMNT to look through.

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Peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Union writer. A passion for the beautiful game drives me. Twitter: @TGing21

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