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USA vs. Serbia, 2017 Friendly: Final score 0-0, Lackluster draw opens Arena’s second stint

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Soccer: U.S. Men's National International Friendly-Serbia at USA Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The United States men’s national team began the Bruce Arena 2.0 era with a lackluster 0-0 draw with an experimental Serbia squad on a sunny Sunday afternoon at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium.

The U.S. came out of the gates on the front foot, keeping possession in the attacking half of the field and high pressing Serbia when they lost control. The first fifteen minutes looked inspired with high intensity from all players in white and blue.

After the opening quarter of an hour the match slowed considerably with Serbia gaining a foothold in the match and even should have been awarded a penalty when Greg Garza fouled a player just inside the box, but the referee gave a free kick.

Darlington Nagbe down the left flank was the USA’s most dangerous attacker, coming close to scoring several times, missing curling shots by inches twice and unable to get in front of his marker on a centered ball by Jermaine Jones.

The second half saw much of the same as the sloppy and uninspired play continued without much in the way of clear cut chances for either team. Possession wasn’t a problem for the U.S., but running out of ideas in the final third and a continuous lack of movement was.

It took until the 87th minute for the match to finally open up. Both sides got a great chance to find a winner. Nick Rimando was forced into a nice save from a tight angle on one end while Juan Agudelo’s fancy footwork set up Chris Pontius for a shot that went just wide on the other.

The match would end without either team finding the net.

Quick Thoughts

  • Although normally a central player for his club, Nagbe looked just fine on the wing. He was arguably the most influential attack for the team in the first half.
  • After the opening of the match that saw the U.S. come out hot and ready, the tempo really slowed and the team lacked movement in the attacking third.
  • Sebastian Lletget’s introduction at halftime provided a small spark as he an Nagbe combined well several times to create chances.
  • The second half tempo wasn’t much better as the match just felt like a slog through the mud for the most part.
  • The chemistry was a problem as there just wasn’t much cohesion anywhere on the field.

What’s next?

The USMNT travel to Chattanooga to take on Jamaica. That match takes place on Friday, February 3rd. It will kickoff at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.