The USMNT ended 2021 by holding a holiday party with mostly MLS players... and someone from USL... and Bryan Reynolds... against Bosnia’Herzegovina in Carson, California. In the end the USA wasted its best chances in the first half, went up a man late before the break, couldn’t pick apart Bosnia-Herzegovina’s defense, and won on a late goal anyway.
For the USA, the team lined up in a 4-3-3 featuring players with bright futures like Cristian Roldan starting.
Our Starting XI, final XI of 2021. pic.twitter.com/WF3o8DIAXU— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) December 18, 2021
BiH lined up in a 3-5-2 but it was shown widely online as a 4-4-2 and there wasn’t a great lineup card posted online. Brendan’s scouting report on them is excellent however and gives a great bit of background on the team.
Gifs of a game that was kind of a mess, was a little fun in the first half, and then was extremely frustrating to the point that I made a list of if USMNT players were Christmas movies in the second because it was pretty bad
In the early going it was pretty clear that the Dragons came to California to play soccer as they drove forward, pressed, and even seemed to look a bit threatening. The USA never seemed too troubled, but it was clear that BiH would take their chances and not be content to sit back in the game.
The USA settled and focused on building possession and trying to breakdown their opponents on the wings. George Bello looked promising driving in from the left while Jordan Morris had some nice moments on the opposite flank. The first big chance of the game came when Brooks Lennon delivered a low cross to Ricardo Pepi, but the American striker seems to have not learned yet that he’ll miss 100% of the shots he doesn’t take from three feet in front of goal.
Another big chance emerged at around the half hour mark as the Stars and Stripes broke down the right with Jesus Ferreira hitting a cross into the box. In a play that seemed like it would end in a goal or penalty because Pepi was shoved in the back as he made a play for the ball, Jordan Morris connected on a diving header that went straight at keeper Nikola Ćetković.
Jordan Morris was CLOSE to giving the USMNT the lead! pic.twitter.com/SIoylB1NOJ— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 19, 2021
In the 40th minute the game took a decidedly unfriendly turn as Kellyn Acosta was taken down with an ugly tackle from Amar Begić which earned the BiH midfielder a red card. Luckily, Acosta wasn’t injured from the dangerous play and was able to continue.
Bosnia's Amar Begic was shown a straight red for this foul on @USMNT's Kellyn Acosta pic.twitter.com/ZvvOJPQ4oF— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 19, 2021
The visitors would do enough to regroup after the red card to see the game into halftime and the first 45 would end 0-0. After 15 minutes and... ZERO SHOTS EVEN THOUGH THEY’RE UP A PLAYER AND BIH WAS ONLY MILDLY BUNKERING AND NOT CONCACAFing AT ALL, the USMNT would make some changes. Pepi, Johnny, and Lennon came off for Gyasi Zardes, Jackson Yueill, and Bryan Reynolds.
In the 68th and then 70th minute the USA recorded a soccer action in the game with yellow cards awarded to Zimmerman and Acosta, the team had still not registered a shot at this point in the half. BiH did get a few chances though, outshooting the USA 2-0 as of the 75th minute. That streak would end gloriously as Kellyn Acosta shot a ball at the goal in the 83rd minute ending our long national nightmare.
After working diligently all half to create one shot, the USA finally found a breakthrough in the 89th minute on a classic MLS style scrum goal as Cole Bassett pounced on a shot that the backup BiH keeper should have done better with.
First cap, first goal.— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) December 19, 2021
Welcome to the #USMNT, @colebassett19 pic.twitter.com/BCNT5hyeYQ
On the one hand, it’s a friendly and these are MLS players and maybe a few will make it to Qatar. On the other, we’ve seen this from Gregg Berhalter before. A tough team that wanted to stay organized and compact held their own against the USA despite not matching up in terms of talent or other advantages.
BONUS CONTENT: IF USMNT PLAYERS AGAINST BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA WERE CHRISTMAS MOVIES
Matt Turner - The Muppet Christmas Carol, it’s actually the best Christmas movie but people think Elf is better.
Brooks Lennon - Love Actually, it’s got a certain British charm but misses something that will push it to the next level. Also has some parts that are deeply unsettling but for reasons that aren’t exactly clear.
Walker Zimmerman - A Christmas Story, it’s fun, it’s always on, you feel fine seeing it but have seen it before. I mean, it’s not Miles Robinson, but it’s ok.
Henry Kessler - Bad Santa. Just look at this.
However I would throw that ball again if I had to, and I’d throw it even further— Henry Kessler (@HenryKessler4) September 8, 2021
George Bello - A Charlie Brown Christmas, a real crowd pleaser with some really bright moments but still has a ways to go before it’s the finished product.
Johnny - Brazil. If you know, you know.
Kellyn Acosta - Home Alone, it seems like a fun loving comedy, but under the surface it’s an intense story that without Jingle Bell Rock would be a Saw film.
Cristian Roldan - Die Hard, no, just kidding, Die Hard isn’t a Christmas movie.
Jesus Ferreira - Frosty the Snowman, he needs a magic hat or he disappears. This is probably unfair to Ferreira, he was fine.
Jordan Morris - National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, a national treasure and a classic at this point, has maybe been attacked by a squirrel at some point.
Ricardo Pepi - The Nightmare Before Christmas - did you know that striker is a cursed position for the USMNT? It’s not his fault, it’s not Wondo’s fault, it’s not Jozy’s fault, it’s not Gyasi’s fault... this is what it means to be an American playing striker.
Jackson Yueill - Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, just generally disregarded but might be useful because he’s visible in the snow or something.
Gyasi Zardes - Jingle All The Way - It seems terrible but come on, Arnold Schwarzenegger + Sinbad, it delivers in the end.
Bryan Reynolds - Home Alone 2, Lost in New York, except it’d be lost in Rome. Where’s Bryan been?
Cade Cowell - The Matrix Resurrections - not a Christmas movie, just something I actually want to see.
Cole Bassett - This is a lot of people and Christmas movies... Uh, It’s a Wonderful Life, sure, fine. Like I bet it’s good but nobody has seen more than six minutes of it but he saved the day in the end. Hurray!
Jonathan Gomez - Christmas in Connecticut, did you know there’s a Christmas movie called Christmas in Connecticut?