By Paul Kennedy
It's impossible to think of a better performance a U.S. forward has ever put on than what Jozy Altidore did on Wednesday night in Sarajevo. Not just the three goals and assist he had in the space of 32 minutes that silenced the capacity crowd at Asim Ferhatovic Hase Stadium. But his work for the entire 90 minutes.
The USA's record winning streak looked dead at halftime, but Altidore with some notable contributions from his teammates made sure the USA made it 12 in a row with a stunning 4-3 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina.
JOZY, JOZY, JOZY.Just about every touch of Altidore's game was perfect -- even in the first half when the USA fell behind -- but none more so than his free kick -- yes, Jozy takes free kicks -- that put the USA ahead 3-2 in the 84th minute.
Altidore got help from Michael Bradley, who led him the ball he touched on to Eddie Johnson to slot into the empty net for the first goal and who again led him with the through pass for his third goal that concluded a great build-up, and from Fabian Johnson, who played the ball ahead to him for the clinical touch, turn and shoot that gave former Canada U-20 goalie Asmir Begovic no chance to the far post on the tying goal.
Altidore's goals give him goals in five straight games, a U.S. record. Johnson's assist marked the third straight game he found Altidore for a goal after charging into the attack from the left side.
HALFTIME ADJUSTMENT.It's dangerous to read too much into tactical switches, but one change Jurgen Klinsmann made to start the second half made all the difference, contributing directly to the first two U.S. goals.
Edgar Castillo came on a left back, Fabian Johnson moved forward into midfield, Eddie Johnson moved into attack and Mix Diskerud (who was struggled in the slot usually occupied by Clint Dempsey or Landon Donovan) came off as the USA switched from a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2.
THE DEBUTANTS. John Brooks got his first start for the USA alongside Geoff Cameron, and they certainly had their hands full with Edin Dzeko.
Brooks, who made his Bundesliga debut on Saturday, showed he's ready to challenge -- if not yet ready to take over for -- the likes ofOmar Gonzalez and Matt Besler in the middle of the backline even if his performance was far from flawless.
The 20-year-old defender was one of several players who were caught waving for offside as Dzeko scored on a rebound of his initial shot well saved by Howard and he was cleanly beaten on Dzeko's second goal.
On Vedad Ibisevic's goal, Brooks was pushed in the back by Emir Spahic as he went up for the incoming cross and unlucky not to get the call for a foul that would have nullified the goal.
Former Iceland U-21 Aron Johannsson, who only Tuesday was cleared to play for the USA, showed why Klinsmann lobbied so hard to pry him away from Iceland, creating two good chances for himself and being involved in the lead-up to the fourth U.S. goal.
Hawaiian-born Bobby Woodwas the third player to make his U.S. debut, coming on for a cameo appearance.
THE STREAK.The USA's 12-game winning streak is the longest active streak in the world. It is only three wins away from tying the world record held by Spain -- a streak the USA stopped with its 2-0 win at the 2009 Confederations Cup. The USA ties the Concacaf record winning streak held by Mexico (1987-90).
Aug. 14 in Sarajevo
Bosnia & Herzegovina 3 USA 4.Goals: Dzeko 7, 90, Ibisevic 30; E.Johnson 54, Altidore 58, 84 86.
Bosnia & Herzegovina --Begovic; Bicakcic, Spahic (Sunjic 46), Rahimic (Zahirovic 46), Zukanovic (Visca 62); Misimovic, Salihovic (Vrsajevic 46), Lulic, Pjanic; Dzeko, Ibisevic (Stevanovic 46).
USA -- Howard; Evans (Wood 88), Cameron, Brooks, F.Johnson (Parkhurst 79); Bradley, Jones (Kljestan 70); Bedoya (Corona 63), Diskerud (Castillo 46), E.Johnson (Johannsson 63); Altidore.
Jozy's Hat Trick: