The United State men’s national team travels to Sarajevo on Wednesday August 14 for an international friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Jurgen Klinsmann’s team is on a historic 11-game win streak including three World Cup qualifying victories and a Gold Cup championship.
Most of the summer the U.S. has been playing CONCACAF teams on American soil. Wednesday will be a different challenge for the U.S. when they play a solid European team away from home. The roster for the U.S. was announced on Monday. It is predominately made up of players who play their club soccer in Europe.
Tim Howard, Brad Guzan and Cody Cropper are the three goalkeepers called in. Howard was named captain so it’s safe to assume he will start in Sarajevo.
The backline features several players that will look to impress Klinsmann. MLS-based Matt Besler and Omar Gonzales played well together at center back in recent World Cup qualifiers, but neither are making to trip to Bosnia. This opens the door for several players. The most intriguing name is John Anthony Brooks, who was born in Germany and has an American father. Brooks helped Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin get promoted into the top flight of Germany last season and scored in the first Bundesliga match on Saturday. The 20 year old has played for the U.S. and German national teams at youth levels and his future is undecided on which country he will represent at a senior level. The call-up is a positive sign that Brooks will pick the U.S.
Geoff Cameron is on the team, listed as a defender. The versatile Stoke City player also can line up as a defensive midfielder. Other defenders are Edgar Castillo, Brad Evans, Tim Ream and Michael Parkhurst. Evans was a hero this summer when he scored the game-winning goal in second half stoppage time in Jamaica. Parkhurst was steady at right back in the Gold Cup and assisted on the game winning-goal in the final in Chicago.
The midfield consists of players who were regulars in World Cup qualifiers including Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson and Michael Bradley. There are also players who broke out in the Gold Cup such as Joe Corona, Mix Diskerud and Alejandro Bedoya. The trio from the Gold Cup will look to make an impact on Wednesday in hopes of being called up and playing in the September World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico. Sacha Kljestan and Danny Williams will be joining the team in Bosnia.
Klinsmann picked five forwards. There’s Jozy Altidore who scored four goals this summer and looks poised to become a consistent goal scorer with country and in the EPL with his new club Sunderland. Eddie Johnson is the veteran of the bunch. At 29, Johnson contributed in World Cup qualifiers and the Gold Cup this summer. Then there are three young forwards who are inexperienced and will be looking to impress Klinsmann. German-born Terrence Boyd has nine caps. Then there is Bobby Wood and Aron Johannsson, who haven’t played a game yet for the U.S. men’s team. Wood is 20 and plays for Munich 1860. Johannsson, 22, was born in Alabama and decided to play for the U.S. instead of Iceland last month. Johannsson played briefly with Altidore at AZ in the Netherlands.
Like the United States, Bosnia will see this game as preparation for the final stretch of World Cup qualifying in Europe. They were so close to making the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, but fell short in second place playoffs against Portugal each time. Bosnia is in a great position in 2014 World Cup qualifying, leading their group by three points with four matches to play. Greece is second in that group and Bosnia doesn’t have to play Greece again. Next month they play Slovakia in their two September qualifiers and wrap up the group in October with a home date against Liechtenstein and an away fixture in Lithuania.
Bosnia has two strikers that each scored a hat trick in a qualifier last September. Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko and Stuttgart’s Vedad Ibisevic will pose a challenge for the U.S. backline. Both strikers are tall and have shown great form for club and country in their careers.
Bosnian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic plays with Americans Cameron, Brek Shea and Maurice Edu on Stoke City and is one of the top goalkeepers in the EPL. Midfield Miralem Pjanic is a club teammate of Michael Bradley for AS Roma. Bosnia’s captain is defender Emir Spahic, who plays for Bayer Leverkusen.
Competing against European teams helped the U.S. earlier this summer when they faced Belgium and Germany. Klinsmann now hopes another European test will help the Yanks in World Cup qualifiers next month.