In a game many fans hoped would feature a plethora of young American talent, interim coach Dave Sarachan opted for an older starting lineup and decided not to even dress several up-and-comers. The United States delivered a stale performance in what many will remember as a wasted opportunity.
The 0-0 draw against Bosnia and Herzegovina did see a few players flash their abilities in certain moments however. Will Trapp was comfortable sitting in front of the back four and hit a few beautiful diagonal balls. Bill Hamid, in a wide-open race for goalkeeper, produced a point-blank save just before halftime to help keep Bosnia off the board. U.S. fans are hopeful Hamid can claim the starting goalkeeper spot for FC Midtjylland. But it is Ike Opara who takes home Man of the Match honors from last weekend’s friendly.
The reigning MLS Defender of the Year’s club form for Sporting Kansas City was on full display in his senior national team debut. Opara showed off the speed, athleticism, man-marking and passing ability that made him a consistent presence in various U.S. Youth National Teams. In a disjointed and patchwork squad, Opara made several key clearances and tackles to help limit Bosnia to two shots on target and preserve a clean sheet.
He finished with four interceptions, four recoveries and two clearances.
Injuries have delayed the 28-year old’s debut, but he certainly showed enough to warrant future call-ups. While Opara may not be a name for 2022, he can contribute in the years leading up to Qatar. Who was your Man of the Match? Who do you think deserves another look in March?