In a mid-December friendly against Bosnia & Herzegovina that had a decidedly "January camp" air about it, the US men's national team patiently waited to break down the 10-man visitors for a deserved 1-0 win.
The Nats were flowing well early (and rarely in any trouble themselves), so it seemed for a while like it was only a matter of time before they broke the ice. However, walking pace play dulled the team's edge a bit too often – especially after Bosnia were shorthanded by a 40th-minute red card – and so they had to wait until the final minute to be rescued by sub debutant Cole Bassett's rebound conversion.
There was no real heavy lifting for the Revs netminder, and he made his three saves with ease.
The right back debutant put the team's best chance of the first half on a platter with a pinpoint cross, but there wasn't much impact jumping forward to speak of besides that. Lennon also had a couple of miscues in his own end.
The Nashville SC stopper calmly handled all business that came his way, and put his usual stamp on the USMNT's set-piece game with a dangerous flick-on header that unfortunately found no taker.
The New England center back also had a few nice moments defending, but I was most impressed with some of his splitting passes.
Like his club and country bookend Lennon, the Atlanta United youngster put in a nice early cross and then disappeared from the attack for long stretches. Bello was more solid defensively, though, shutting down a handful of Bosnia wing raids.
The Seattle man spent early portions opening new attack doors with his passing, and then play shifted away from him for a while. That was unwise, as nearly all of their encouraging advances forward came through Roldan somehow. He was also central to the team's effective midfield press, so it's easy to look past a couple of stray miscues.
The Internacional midfielder wasn't involved much past midfield, but he was routinely in place to make plays in the US half. Johnny was there to cut off rushes up the middle and point the team out of pressure, and he did that for 63 minutes.
Apparently, the coach wanted to find out if the young FC Dallas attacker could operate wide at this level. Not so much, I'd say. Ferreira had some nice linking touches when he floated inside a lane, but that migration happened far too often. He wasn't stretching Bosnia out to the line or noticing some very good runs by teammates, and his passes stopped connecting.
Like pretty much all those tagged with a below-average grade, Pepi hadn't played a game in several weeks. That can help explain all the loose hold-up touches. I'm not sure how to explain his doorstep miss, but hey, 18-year-olds tend to be tired in December when they've played about 2,500 minutes on the year.
From a wheels standpoint, J-Mo looked like his old self. That running allowed Morris to whip in a couple of tempting crosses, and nearly got him a scrambled goal. He was also robbed on a fine header, so this firmly feels like a successful 78-minute shift.
Not to speak for the boss or anything, but he likely got everything he wanted out of this friendly. Berhalter got a few players some match fitness, checked on the responsibility level of some back-ups and had a gander at how some newbies might fit the system. The boys faithfully kept a clean sheet and eventually managed to bust Bosnia's 10-man bunker. Who could ask for much more 4-6 weeks removed from the last game played by many of the participants?
The Columbus hit man never found a chance to fire in his 28 minutes, but his movement helped the team wake up in time to salvage a victory.
The AS Roma right back almost immediately livened up right flank interplay, and this aggressive attacking paid off when his cross into the mix led to the winning goal.
Nothing flashy here, just the fundamentals done right.
The Colorado kid had already given a quick boost to the attack before he was quickest to pot the last-minute decider.
The San Jose speedster never found the right space to put the pedal to the floor.
A converted left back, Gomez needed only one moment to remind folks of his winger days. It was his shot that was spilled for Bassett to mop up.