USA 4 - 3 Bosnia-Herzegovina: The DVR Diary

Mike Hewitt

What happens when you can't watch the USMNT Live? You DVR the game, avoid looking at your phone for several hours at work and then rush home to watch the game. Here's what transpired from my couch last night...

(8:30pm EST) We're live from my basement, erm, MAN CAVE! I've just polished off some leftover pulled pork and cornbread, my friend Sam Adams is here with me as well. And if my Dad ever wakes up, he might regale us with his extensive knowledge of soccer.

(8:32) I am forced to pause my DVR before I even fast forward to the pregame show to remove my dinner plate from the basement, erm, Man Cave, as my 4-month old kitten Daphne makes her first appearance to attack what's left of my pulled pork. We're off to a rousing start here in Connecticut...

(8:35) Well, it appears ESPN is off to about as good a start as yours truly, they have Begovic starting in goal for the USMNT in the lineup graphic. Tim Howard should be upset, it's not like he's wearing the captain's armband or anything. 20-year old German-American John Anthony Brooks makes his USA debut at center back with Geoff Cameron in the middle and Fabian Johnson and Brad Evans on the flanks. Jones and Bradley in the holding midfield, EJ, Mix and Bedoya left to right in the midfield with Jozy up top. It's not the prettiest lineup in USMNT history but it's certainly not terrible.

(8:40) My thoughts on Asim Ferhatovic Hase Stadium in Sarajevo: it seems like the perfect size for the Revolution. I don't know the capacity off hand (24,000 Bob Ley said later), and the design is a little off (that Olympic track around the pitch certainly has to go), but it's not gigantic, perfect size, you can hear the crowd fairly well. I like it.

(8:42) The United States is 2-2-1 under Klinsmann playing in Europe, and the two wins and draw have been the most recent, with wins over Slovenia and Italy and Mix Diskerud's late equalizer to tie Russia with those games happening in late 2011 and 2012.

(8:47) Anthems, sadly I can't scream the Star Spangled Banner along with Matty Jollie from the Fort.

(8:50) Kickoff, Bosnia in blue going left to right. USMNT in the Waldo's and white shorts/socks. My expectations for this game are best case: Play solid defense, counter well, steal game late; worst case: Belgium all over again. USA on 11-game win streak, Bosnia unbeaten in the last calendar year (9 games) and they haven't lost at home since 2010.

(2') Bosnia earns an early corner. Let's see how the USA's backline react to this...poorly, Bosnia gets a free header but it comes to nothing. I have a feeling that will be a trend, hopefully the US can settle down and not give away a ton of set piece opportunities.

(3') Bedoya finds Eddie Johnson at the top of the area, and EJ holds...and holds...and holds...and eventually earns a corner. Hit the shot man! You're a striker, who just happens to be playing left mid, but still, SHOOT!

(5') Brad Evans blocks a cross, another corner for Bosnia...played short and knocked out by the USA for a throw in. The right back spot is Evans' to lose apparently, so far he looks good.

(8') IT'S OKAY, JUST WATCH DZEKO SCORE AGAINST YOU!!! NO BIG DEAL!!! I was afraid this might happen with a makeshift backline but I certainly didn't think the USA WOULD GIVE UP A GOAL EIGHT MINUTES IN!!!

Well, that's about the worst start the USA could've hoped for. EJ has it nicked off his foot, Dzeko is in alone on goal, Howard makes the save initially but Dzeko cleans it up, 30th international goal. Cameron, Evans and Brooks are ball watching and/or looking for a flag. What a mess...1-0 Bosnia.

(9') USA can't maintain possession in the attacking third, although Jones puts in a decent ball over the top caught by Begovic. I'm starting to have flashbacks to Belgium.

(10') JOZY! Collected a nice ball over the top from Bradley and tried to lay it off to EJ, but he'd stopped his run. Not a good start to the game for EJ...

(11') EJ gets tugged down running through the box, but the referee is having none of it (fine by me) and it's out for a goal kick. EJ is getting his looks down the left side but he's just not doing anything with them.

(12') The USA looks so disorganized on set pieces, a Bosnia corner is half cleared to of all people, Jozy, deep in the defensive third. Something tells me this game gets worse before it gets better. IF it gets better...

(15') Bosnia looks compact and organized on defense, but there is space to operate if the USA stays wide. EJ pinching in too much in my opinion. This game needs more Bradley going forward.

(16') Edin Dzeko is really, really good. He's going to be torching the US backline all day. Especially if the US continues to lose the ball in the midfield. Belgium flashbacks are getting worse. Another corner for Bosnia...

(17') JAB clears the cross after a short corner...is it wrong to say he reminds me a little bit of Oguchi Onyewu before the injuries? And he's wearing #5...

(19') PENALTY SHOUT!!! Diskerud is absolutely mauled in the box and there's no call. I give him credit for trying to stay on his feet but that should've been called regardless. Replay was definite, that was a penalty, twice.

(20') Jozy draws a foul at the top of Bosnia's area...he's the lone bright spot so far. Still looks in top form and full of confidence just like in the qualifiers.

(21') Jozy takes it himself, and it's off the wall for a corner...liked the effort though, US isn't known to shoot on goal off a FK like that. At least not well, anyway.

(22') Dangerous corner from Bradley cleared, much better from the USA offensively, but they're still having trouble maintaining possession and advancing the ball forward. Most of that credit goes to the Bosnia defense, very high pressure from them so far.

(23') Dzeko crosses it in and it finds Ibisevic in front of goal but a solid challenge (although late) from Fabian Johnson forces a goal kick.

(26') Michael Bradley has to be like 85% on crosses today, he just doesn't miss ever...but I want him to get more forward.

(27') YELLOW - BIH Spahic (Pro/Tac Foul) - The Bosnia captain pulls down Jozy and earns the games first booking.  Jozy's been a handful so far but hasn't had any looks on goal. FK by Bradley comes to nothing.

(28') And speak of the devil, Bradley combines well near the top of the box, but Jones' through ball to EJ is intercepted. USA enjoying more of the ball and getting forward, perhaps settling into the game a bit.

(29') Geoff Cameron blocks out Dzeko but concedes a corner...it's cleared away.

(30') But not for long, it's sent immediately back in and Ibisevic powers a header past Howard and in front of Cameron. Well, the former NCAA Freshman of the Year for St. Louis has scored against the USA and it's 2-0, Bosnia.

And what is our backline doing...NOT PUSHING FORWARD TO PUT BOSNIA OFFSIDE!!! C'mon guys, I know it's a new unit but this is basic defense here...Cameron needs to take control of this unit, yes, I know what I just said, it still needs to happen.

(32') Taylor Twellman mentions the left sided Johnson's aren't having a good day. EJ in particular I think, I can't really fault Fabian off that corner. US defense needs to move forward as a unit and catch the Bosnians offside on the second ball.

(34') Now even Bradley's passing looking a bit suspect. We need to get him to shoot more from distance. No one wants to get in the way of one of his shots.

(35') Another US turnover and Dzeko finds Pjanic wide open but he scuffs the shot wide...that could've been the game there. US struggling to maintain possession, halftime whistle can't come fast enough...

(37') Someone needs to explain to me why Bradley (who's what, 6'3"?) is taking corners. He's doing an okay job with them, but he needs to be IN THE BOX!!! There isn't anyone else on this field capable of taking a decent set piece?

(39') Bradley is playing so deep I think the US is in a 5-1-3-2 formation. USA not staying wide enough, they have success using the flanks but they're all bunched up in the middle. Where are the adjustments?

(40') Every time Bosnia gets the ball, in about 3-4 passes the ball is up field about 40 yards and players are running to space. Every time the USA gets the ball, we stand around wonder what's going on.

(41') Counter Bosnia, and somehow they can't pass it around Brooks who was well positioned but there was so much space behind him on the left flank. WHERE IS THE LEFT SIDE OF THE FIELD AND WHAT ARE THEY DOING?!?!?!

(43') Back to back free kicks for the USA from about 40 yards, Bradley's cross is cleared and the second one is played short...it's for the best, it would've been cleared anyway. And a third as Fabian is taken down...

(44') Quickly taken and Jozy ends up almost going through the whole defense but the last defender clears it out for a corner, which Bradley takes (WHY?!?!). Cameron near post, nothing doing...

(45') Taylor Twellman remembering the good old days of making Ibisevic carry the balls at St. Louis. Sadly this story time doesn't mention his time with the Revs, would've been the only highlight for me in the half.

Speaking of which, it's halftime! Thankfully that half is mercifully over. Orange slices and Gatorade for everyone! Do I sound bitter enough?

USA looks terrible. Everything is going through the middle, and it only works when Bradley goes over the top. Defense isn't playing terrible, but they're compounding mistakes that their midfield is making and generally getting torched on the flanks. Speaking of flanks, if anyone see's the USMNT's left side, please tell it to return home AND STAY THERE!

Good news, everything Bradley does in the attacking half that isn't taking set pieces. Diskerud's work rate. Everything Jozy's doing. I would take EJ off, put on Castillo and push Fabian to LM, maybe let them overlap a little to help the offense.

Jurgen Klinsmann's response to this 0-2 deficit will be to insert Castillo for Diskerud, move Fabian Johnson to left mid and move EJ up top with Jozy. Standard 4-4-2 according to Twellman. Bosnia makes four changes of their own.

Not sure about leaving EJ in but he's much better up front and Jozy I think operates better with a partner, but I do like Fabian moving forward to LM, it's clearly his better position.

(49') I really like Bradley's accuracy with these balls over the top, but I want him TO GET FORWARD! And do something other THAN TAKE CORNERS!

(50') HANDBALL? Referee having none of it, replays inconclusive, arm seemed fairly close to the chest and no definitive angle.

(51') Better from Cameron and Brooks as they catch Dzeko offside in the early going. Apparently Brooks scored in his Bundesliga debut from Hertha Berlin over the weekend, congrats young man.

(53') A lot of back and forth soccer here, but I don't see the urgency from the USA here. WHY IS BRADLEY STILL EVEN WITH BROOKS ON THE BACKLINE!!!

(54') Edgar Castillo doing more defensive work on the left side than both Johnson's in the first half combined. Something tells me I've typed that before...

(55') GOAL!!! EDDIE JOHNSON?!?!?! How in the world? I mean, it's not like EJ was completely terrible in the first half. He wasn't good, and certainly had the easy part here.

Bradley over the top, great first touch by Jozy, and Begovic is off his line to cut off the angle and is in no man's land but I'm not sure what else he can do there. EJ with the simplest of finishes from the top off the box into an open net. 2-1 Bosina, GAME ON!

Twellman quickly mentions if the US isn't in a 4-4-2, that goal doesn't happen. And he's right. Every decision Klinsmann makes regarding subs, or formations right now is working. We saw it during the Gold Cup and we're seeing it here again today. Amazing.

(57') Dzeko offsides but still blasts one past Howard (seriously, I don't care that Howard gave up, he's not stopping that). USA looks more comfortable defensively, backline clearly in sync now. See guys, playing defense isn't that hard, fundamentals, move as a unit, catch world class striker offside again. Easy stuff.

(58') EJ!!! Just shoot it man, stop dancing with it in the box. He did find Bedoya after rounding the keeper but had no angle. Bedoya fires high and wide.

(58') As much as I love Michael Parkhurst, Brad Evans is just locking down the right side. He blocks so many crosses and is just very sound at the position. It doesn't have to look pretty, and certainly he has to recover a lot, but it's surprisingly effective, even if it means giving away a few corners.

(59') JOZY!!! EQUALIZER!!! FIVE IN A ROW!!! 2-2!!!

He collects from Fabian Johnson and unleashes his left foot across the goal and finds the side netting. This is not the same US team from the first half. Klinsmann settled down his defense, made a tactical switch and we're off and running. Can we end this debate of Klinsmann doesn't know how to adjust now?

(62') Another block from Evans leads to a Bosnian corner, but they've been about as dangerous as the US on set pieces lately, that last one right to Howard.

Seriously, with all the talent between these two teams, it's surprising how bad some of these set pieces have gotten.

(63') Well, the Iceman cometh. Johannsonn is on for EJ, Corona on for Bedoya.

(65') What is this? High pressure from the USA? Possession? What are these things I've never seen all day? WHERE WAS THIS IN THE FIRST HALF WHEN MY BLOOD PRESSURE WAS HIGH!?!?!

(66') Howard off his line to parry the ball out of bounds. Not sure why he didn't just smother that one but maybe he was worried about his momentum taking him out of the penalty area. Then Corona called for an inadvertent handball but Brooks I think clears the FK away...

(67') But again the US can't move up the defensive line, second ball in SAVE HOWARD!!! ONE-HANDED!!! That keeps it level! What a play.

Okay, I know Guzan had his moments in qualifying in the spring. But the No. 1 keeper shirt is still his and should be through Brazil. And this debate needs to end. If Howard isn't ready to go, then Guzan is certainly capable. But as long as Howard is deemed match fit, he's in net. Period.

(68') Iceman with a nifty pass to Jozy but it ends up as nothing. Then Jozy is blocking shots on the other end off a corner sequence. Is there anything he doesn't do well right now?

(69') Kljestan on for Jones, good shift for him but this 4-4-2 is better suited for Kljestan I think.

(71') Bosnia now putting pressure on the US these last few minutes. They're still really dangerous.

(72') Brooks fouls Dzeko but earns some praise from Healey and Twellman for standing up Dzeko even if the FK is in a dangerous spot. I'm inclined to agree actually, Brooks, given the opponent in his debut, is doing fine.

MISMIOVIC(!!) almost puts the FK into the top corner but it's wide and Howard might've had it covered.

(74') Aron Johannsson almost started a riot in Iceland. He collected a short pass, touched around a defender and fired low to the near post, straight into a sprawled out Begovic. That, was almost a spectacular debut. This kid clearly has skills.

(75') Brad Evans just clears everything on the right side. No he doesn't have the pace to match a lot of players but his positioning and anticipation are dominating that right side.

(77') USA possessing well, but not doing much with it...JOHANNSSON!!! Good god this kid just knifed through the Bosnian defense and fired another low shot, again Begovic does well.

(78') There's a winner in this match...I just can't tell which side gets it. Howard smothers a long range effort, he's had a solid second half.

(79' ) Dzeko makes a meal out of a slight touch from Cameron and gets the foul, dangerous FK from the top of the box. PARKY(!) coming on for...Fabian Johnson? Umm...what?

(80') FK is taken, deflected off the wall to Howard...still trying to figure out what just happened, Parkhurst to RB, Evans to RM, Corona to LM. Okay, my brain feels better now.

(81') PARKY! Shot is blocked, still love the fact that he just had a go right off the bench, even if the Iceman was lurking in the box. Corona then elbows  Bosnia's Vrsajevic drawing blood but no yellow...interesting...

(83') Johannsson is through but this touch is long and it's tackled away. Then Bosnia gives away a FK at the top of the area...

(84') JOZY!!! FREAKING!!! ALTIDORE!!! STRAIGHT IN OFF THE FREE KICK!!! TOP CORNER!!! WORLD CLASS FINISH!!!  3-2 USA!!!

That might be the best goal directly off a FK in USMNT history. Seriously, when was the last time an American scored off one of those?

Just went back to the 21' minute and re-read what I wrote on Jozy's first FK. I know Donovan and Dempsey are decent on FKs when they're on the squad, but would it be crazy to let Jozy take some FK's and corners?

(86') HATTRICK!!! JOZY!!! AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

[I may have just run outside and done an English grass slide in by backyard...unconfirmed.]

It's a great finish, but Kljestan gets hammered on the ball to Bradley (should've been a card after the fact), and Bradley makes a great run and plays a perfectly weighted ball inside the box to Jozy. Oh my goodness...4-2 USA!!!

Seriously, the rest of FIFA might actually notice this second half. And the scary part is, Klinsmann can throw out a three man attacking midfield of Donovan, Dempsey and Zusi instead of the makeshift lineup he's had supporting Jozy tonight. CONCACAF already is changing their pants, but in the off chance the USA maintains most of this momentum going into Brazil, they might actually live up to their darkhorse status for once instead of underachieving and backdooring into the knockout stages.

Also just paused to explain to my dad why Jozy didn't play in the Gold Cup but was in the qualifiers over the summer. Needless to say, it didn't go well...

"Why is there an A team and a B team? Which team is this? The Euro Team and Seattle? This makes no sense."

(I seriously tried to get my dad to watch most of this game with me, for just this type of input, he's the best. But alas, he spent most of the first half upstairs asleep and most of the second half in the Man Cave asleep. Ah well.)

(87') Bobby Wood into the game for Evans, his debut as well. All three outfield players who hadn't yet played for the USMNT have gotten onto the field. Only third keeper Cody Cropper left on the bench without a cap.

(88') Also feel the need to give a shout out to Edgar Castillo. Yes, he's not physically imposing as a defender, but he's crafty, great on the ball and overlaps well.

(89') GOAL BOSNIA!!! Now it's 3-4 USA!!! Hold the phone kids, Dzeko with just the slightest of headers in front of Brooks and Tim Howard is helpless as the ball finds the back corner of the net.

Seriously, Brooks wasn't exactly out of position there and Dzeko basically just redirected that ball like a hockey player in front of the crease. Dzeko, Benteke, etc., are the types of players the USA will be facing in the World Cup and so far in the friendlies vs. Belgium, Germany and Bosnia, the US hasn't proved that they can stop world class opponents defensively.

(90+2) USA holding out, possessing the ball to run down the clock...and...my DVR just reached the end of the recording...crap.

[Frantically going to ESPN FC...]

FULL TIME!!! USA 4-3 BIH!!! The USMNT has its first ever comeback win in Europe. Wow.

Well then, it's important to remember that the first half of this game actually did happen. But the focus should be on the second half, after the USA adjusted and made changes.

Just took a few minutes to scroll through TBM's live thread of the game.

RECAP

Tim Howard had his moments, especially that save in the 67' and there wasn't a whole lot he could've done on any of the goals. Perhaps he could've helped organize the backline a little better with Cameron but the first half in general was such a mess that I don't think it mattered.

The defense was a mess in the first half, unorganized and unsure of what to do. Second half, different story. Brooks clearly showed he's international caliber even at 20 years old with his skill set but also showed his youth plenty as well. Brad Evans continues to impress at right back and blocks everything he can get close to. Edgar Castillo did well in the second half, finally giving the US a presence on the left flank, with the Johnson's moving forward, and that was missing (not ineffective, literally missing) in the first half. Bradley was finally able to get forward in the 4-4-2 and his presence in the attack was noticeable in the second half. Jones as always puts in a hard, physical shift. The other midfielders - Bedoya, Diskerud, Corona, Kljestan etc. - weren't exactly imposing but everyone contributed at some point. EJ scored his goal but was otherwise disappointing on the day.

But Jozy and Johannsson...those six months at AZ clearly shows. The two of them had a tremendous chemistry up front, clearly enhancing my theory that Jozy is better with a partner despite the fact that he's improved his hold up play tremendously. Iceland should be furious, the USMNT has a great player on their hands with tons of upside.

I don't think this game will change Klinsmann out of his preferred 4-2-3-1, but certainly it is nice to see the USMNT adjust and be effective in a variety of formations and with different personnel. And 12 wins in a row is 12 wins in a row. It doesn't matter who the opponent is or who is on the field for the USMNT, they're on a roll right now.

CONCACAF has known about this for the past few months. Now the rest of the world knows it too.

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