A tale of two halves in the most explicitly literal sense.
Bosnia-Herzegovina owned the first half and darted two goals past the frustrated American pipe-master Tim Howard for a 2-nil lead (the worst lead in soccer…).
The United States of America owned the second half where competent and creative ball movements by Michael Bradley led to great finishes, three of which from the man who has been on a hot streak of goal scoring this summer: Jozy Altidore. A hat trick is always a nice souvenir. The U.S. won the game in surprising fashion 4-3.
Who saw that coming after halftime? Actually, perhaps Bosnia-Herzegovina should have been more perceptive to this possibility after they substituted half of their team (six players) with slightly slower and slightly weaker replacements. Regardless, a valiant effort on the part of the USMNT.
For the game’s analysis, a short list has been created that details the highlights and lessons from last night’s comeback victory in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina:
-There needs to be “A Bradley Touch Tracker” as a graphic on the television screen (when he touches the ball, good things tend to happen).
-On a similar note, there should be “A Donovan GPS Tracker” (Just so the coaches and viewers can confirm he’s still on the field for those big games when he disappears for 15 minutes or so. “Oh, there he is! Yes, he’s still out there somewhere over there…”)
Important Note: Landon Donovan was not there last night and I’m a fan, but this would still be very useful
-The USMNT did not (and has yet to) start a back-line that can successfully play a staggered defense where the two outside defenders can frequently go forward, mostly due to the lackluster performance of Cameron and Brooks together in the middle.
-Brad Evans: once again, good job.
-More time and more touches for Aron Johannsson, please!
-Jozy Altidore: keep shooting and flexing your muscles for 90 minutes.
-Spread the field from sideline to sideline with outside midfielders who will attack with vigor!
-As Taylor Twellman said, the real ticket to buy is the one for Jürgen Klinsmann’s halftime speeches: wow! Plus, Klinsmann continues to be a master of substitutions. Gut gemacht!
One constant that is becoming increasingly apparent is that the USMNT will be a second half, come from behind squad. The challenge is that most of the top teams in the world are well-versed in the “two halves of soccer” strategy. And most will not take off their best players after 45 minutes…
Just as I wrote about “Fool’s Gold” regarding the Gold Cup, there are still some smoke and mirror effects going on with these recent results. The head coach has yet to put the 11-men onto the pitch who will amaze an audience for 90+ minutes without those very same spectators being skeptical and wondering what the catch was afterwards.
Klinsmann can no doubt work his magic towards something potentially historic, but the fans are still stuck watching the mistake-prone rehearsals with the “big show” less than a year away…