By Ridge Mahoney
Memorable wins are becoming the norm for the U.S. national team. A Jozy Altidore hat trick erased a 2-0 deficit as the Americans rallied to beat Bosnia-Herzegovina, 4-3, in Sarajevo on Wednesday. Never before had the U.S. senior team come back from a two-goal deficit in Europe to post a victory.
Altidore and midfielder Michael Bradley led the way to run the U.S. winning streak to 12 games, the longest in the program’s history. DefenderJohn Brooks started alongsideGeoff Cameron to earn his first U.S. cap, and after a shaky beginning they blunted enough attacks to get the U.S. over the line on top.
ForwardAron Johannsson also debuted for the U.S. after his application to switch allegiance from Iceland was approved by FIFA.
RATING PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
6 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG), 90/0.Stung on rebounds after making good saves, Howard played solidly and came up with a couple of important stops that kept it close before the USA attack exploded. Repelled Edin Visca in the final minute to preserve the victory after Dzeko’s second goal cut the margin to 4-3.
6 Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders) 13/1.Had he dropped to the goal line more quickly, he would have been in the best position to clear the first Bosnian goal. Most of his defensive work was capable and he pushed forward often enough to earn corners and force defenders to scramble the ball away. He also put in some midfield work before leaving in the 87th minute.
5 John Brooks (Hertha Berlin/GER) 1/0.Squaring up with Edin Dzeko in your international debut is a defender’s nightmare and Brooks really labored at times. A push in the back from Emir Spahic took him out of the play on the second Bosnian goal, and Dzeko caught him napping on the third. Yet he won a lot of balls in the air and against tough opposition did more than enough to insert himself into the centerback mix.
4 Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG), 19/1. Just a shade too inexperienced to deny Vedad Ibisevic the header on the second Bosnian goal, Cameron also reacted a bit slow on Dzeko’s opener. He tightened up his partnership with Brooks in the second half and an offside trap that caught Dzeko a half-yard offside annulled a goal.
6 Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/GER) 16/0.Started the match at left back and was a bit slow to close down Zvjezdan Misimovicon the second Bosnian goal. Moved to midfield for the second half, he cracked through the Bosnian defense on a few occasions, and set up the American equalizer by dribbling through the middle and slipping a short through ball that Altidore smashed into the net.
5 Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/GER), 33/2. Much too sloppy on the ball, he wisely left the passing to others as the match unfolded and stayed in the center of the field to break up plays. Stepped into several hard tackles in the second half before Kljestan replaced him in the 69th minute.
8 Michael Bradley (Roma/ITA), 80/11. Il Generale played an amazing array of balls, ranging front to back to drop balls over the back line or knock inviting passes out to the flanks. He gave notice with a good first-half pass that Altidore couldn’t put away, but two of his sharp passes through the middle after halftime yielded goals. He repeatedly found space to start promising sequences while also checking Bosnia through the middle.
4 Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/NOR) 11/2.He started horribly, perhaps the aftermath of a major club match over the weekend, stubbing passes and flubbing touches. He recovered to get in some smart touches and nearly earned a penalty kick with a clever collection and turn that forced a clumsy challenge by Spahic that left him on the ground.
5 Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders) 57/18.Didn’t take to the left flank as he’s done for club and country in the past, and during a forgettable first half lost a ball near his own penalty area that Bosnia turned into its first goal. In the second half he tucked away a touch from Altidore to start the U.S. comeback and won free kicks in good spots as the Bosnian defenders turned to desperate measures.
5 Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/FRA) 20/1. He drifted through much of the match ineffectively while maintaining a good level of energy, and dragged a shot wide late in the first half after a partially cleared corner kick. He lifted his game defensively as the Americans rallied from a 2-0 deficit.
9 Jozy Altidore (Sunderland/ENG) 61/20. He set up a goal and then nailed a hat trick to cap perhaps the most incredible 12-month interval for club and country ever produced by a U.S. player. After his cushioned trap set up Eddie Johnson to score the first goal, Altidore struck with three predatory finishes stemming from his shrewd gliding runs into space behind the defenders. His off-the-ball movement and hold-up play were excellent: Man of the Match on this day, and clear choice for U.S. Soccer Player of the Year.
6 Edgar Castillo (Tijuana/MEX) 13/0. Burst into the middle third to hit good passes, as usual, yet also used his quickness to cut off passes and snag second balls.
5 Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/MEX) 11/2.He wasn’t much of a factor offensively but held down a spot in midfield to support his teammates.
7 Aron Johannsson (AZ/NED) 1/0. Put a pair of shots on goal after smartly working himself into good spots, and his off-the-ball mobility disrupted the Bosnian defense sufficiently to open up room for Altidore.
6 Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/BEL) 41/4.Kljestan got right into the flow after his entry in the 69th minute and poked a ball to Bradley that was slipped through for Altidore to score the winning goal.
5 Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg/GER) 22/0.Took over at right back for the last 10 minutes and kept that corner secure.
NR Bobby Wood (1860 Munich/GER) 1/0. Third debutant played the final few minutes.
(1=low; 5=average; 10=high.)