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USA v Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2021 Friendly: What we Learned

To close out the December camp, a reserve USMNT squad was forced to go there and back again against a 10-man Bosnia team that was determined to hold onto a draw. But, the US snatched a goal a the end to win 1-0. Here’s what we learned.

Soccer: International Soccer Friendly-Bosnia & Herzegovina at USA
My Precious
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, since it’s Camp Candycane and what not, I guess I should open with a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Cause, uh, that’s about as sweet at this is going to get. January Camp is, of course, a long standing tradition in American soccer. It gives MLS-based players, who are on break for several months, a chance to get their fitness up and maybe even get a look from staff when they otherwise wouldn’t be called up. With a FIFA week at the end of January due to the condensed schedule, January camp got moved to December (though it sounds like there will be a second camp at the start of January, just without a match). This year, the USMNT capped off that camp with a match against Bosnia & Herzegovina. And like most of these off-season camps, the play felt thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.

There are different built-in problems that make these games difficult. Key players are always missing. In this case, we only had 1-3 starters, depending on how you feel about Zimmerman and Turner. Some of the remaining starters were back-ups, and a few were back-ups of back-ups. And one was Brooks Lennon, which was new. The result was a collection of players that you could tell hadn’t really gelled together quite yet.

But even then, we had a game going, with stuff to take away. But alas, a wellspringing of malice conspired to thwart the night. At the end of the first half, Bosnia’s Amar Begic threw in a nasty, dangerous tackle on Kellyn Acosta. And for that, he was red carded and cast out. And from there, all plans and schemes were thwarted. For you see, Bosnia had just 10 players. When you exclude the goalkeeper, that’s really just nine out-field players. Nine, nine rings were gifted to the race of Men, who above all else desire power. For within these rings was bound the strength and the will to govern each game. But they were all of them deceived, for another ring was made. Deep in the land of California, in the Fires of Carson, the Dark Lord Sauron forged a master ring, and into this ring he poured his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate all soccer.

One ring to Park the Bus.

The ring gave to the Bosnian defense unnatural long life. For three thousand seconds, it poisoned their minds, and in the gloom of a scoreless draw, it waited. One by one, the free players of the USMNT fell to the power of the Ring, but there were some who resisted. A last alliance of substitutes marched against the players of Bosnia, and on the very slopes of the penalty box, they fought for the freedom of Middle-Earth. Stalemate was near; the power of the parked bus could not be undone. It was in this moment, when all hope had faded, that Isildur, son of the king, Cole Bassett took up his teammate’s blocked shot.

Bosnia was defeated.

Some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. Lack of familiarity became dysfunction. Dysfunction became stale possession. And for two and a half thousand years, the occurrences of this match passed out of all knowledge.

That’s it. The end. That’s what we learned.

Closing Thoughts

The Fellowship of the Ring, the first movie in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, was released 20 ago this month. I have fond memories of the first time I watched it. I was with a whole bunch of my cousins at my uncle’s place when we marathoned it alongside The Two Towers. And then we went and watched The Return of the King in theaters the next day.

Four players who featured v. Bosnia were born after Fellowship was released. Ok, now I feel old.

This marked the national team return of Jordan Morris after an ACL tear at the start of the year. I thought he looked like the most threatening player on the field. I kinda take the long view on long-term injuries, but particularly ACL injuries. It takes about a year to get back on the field after an ACL injury, but for me, I feel it takes about another year to get back to that pre-injury level (if a player can get back at all). So seeing Morris perform well at all was quite nice. Alas, there weren’t a whole lot of other big positive moments.

While filming The Lord of the Rings trilogy, actor Viggo Mortensen, who played Aragorn, suffered a number of injuries, including a broken toe he got after kicking a helmet. That scene was incorporated into The Two Towers. Was that more painful than watching this match? Who can say.

Friend of the blog and former SSFC writer Adam Snavely had a very good thought.

Cole Bassett hails from the town of Littleton, CO. I feel it is quite natural to assume that the people of Littleton are known as Little People. Perhaps as Halflings. Shirefolk. Hobbits. And I suppose that makes it fitting that Bassett scored the winner in this one. For the time will soon come when Bassetts will shape the fortunes of all.*

*To my knowledge, Bassett and the people of Littleton are all, on average, of normal height and disposition. Some, I daresay many, even have regularly proportioned feet.

According to the book of Westmarch, the average height of hobbits in the Shire was 3 foot 6. The tallest hobbits recorded in Shire history were Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, who grew to an astonishing 4 foot 6 because, uh, reasons.

This match saw 4 players receive their first caps for the MNT. Bassett, Brooks Lennon, Cade Cowell, and Jonathan Gómez all made their debuts, though only Lennon started.

The Author of The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R Tolkien, was alive during the formation of FIFA. It is said that Tolkien was inspired by, not just his experiences with the two World Wars, but also that origin of the international soccer association. Who exactly says that? Why, me. Just now. And never again.

The United States held 73.5% of possession v. Bosnia. In other words, Bosnia basically said:

You shall not pass.

I am probably overreaching by saying this, but... Die Hard is totally a Christmas movie. Perhaps only by technicality and not quality, but a Christmas movie nonetheless. And while I am overreaching...

In place of a Dark Lord you would have a Queen King! Not dark but beautiful and terrible as the Dawn! Treacherous as the Seas! Stronger than the foundations of the Earth! All shall love me and despair!

I passed the test. I shall diminish ...

and go into the comments section ...

And remain curious for what you thought of the match.