The US national team’s record-setting winning streak is well intact, and Jozy Altidore’s summer just keeps getting better and better.
Altidore scored three goals and assisted on another in the span of 31 minutes in the second half Wednesday as the Americans rallied from a forgettable start to post a 4-3 win against Bosnia-Herzegovina in an international friendly at Asim Ferhatovic Hase Stadium in Sarajevo.
The US have now won 12 matches in a row dating back to a 4-3 win over Germany on June 2, the longest active winning streak in the world and the longest in USMNT history. The result also marked the first time the Americans have ever rallied from a deficit on European soil to post a win, improving their record to 3-2-1 in Europe since head coach Jurgen Klinsmann took over two years ago.
Altidore becomes the first US player to score in five consecutive appearances, dating back to a 4-2 loss to Belgium on May 29. He's scored eight goals in that span.
After falling behind 2-0 at the break, the Americans capitalized on three crucial Bosnia-Herzegovina substitutions at halftime to post their improbable comeback. Eddie Johnson cut into the lead in the 55th minute when he finished off a crafty lay-off at the top of the box from Altidore after a pinpoint ball over the top from Michael Bradley, and then Altidore took the spoils himself from there, notching his first hat trick since scoring all three goals of a 3-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago on April 1, 2009.
Altidore’s first goal came in the 59th minute, with a well-placed left-footed strike off a feed from left midfielder Fabian Johnson. He followed that with a devastating free kick from just outside the penalty box in the 84th minute, and then put the US up 4-2 just two minutes later with a nifty move around Bosnia-Herzegovina goalkeeper Asmir Begovic after a ball over the top by Sacha Kljestan and another touch by Bradley to set up the goal.
The result was the US team’s second consecutive hard-earned reward on the road in Europe following an eerily similar comeback against Russia last November, when the Americans fell behind by a pair of goals before rallying late in Krasnodar for a 2-2 draw.
Bosnia-Herzegovina created the best scoring chances of the first half before swapping out starting defenders Sejad Salihovic and Emir Spahic and midfielder Elvir Rahimic at the break, opening up space for the Americans to surge to the win.
Towering Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko scored in the 8th minute after a costly giveaway by Johnson just outside the Americans’ penalty box, and former NCAA All-American Vedad Ibisevic added an emphatic header in the 30th minute to put Bosnia-Herzegovina comfortably in front before the half.
Zvjezdan Misimovic set up both goals for the hosts. After Johnson flubbed a clearance the ball fell to Misimovic, who threaded a ball to a streaking Dzeko, held barely onside by US defenders Geoff Cameron and newcomer John Anthony Brooks. Dzeko’s first shot was saved by Tim Howard, but he made no mistake on the rebound, pounding home the finish.
Misimovic followed with a pinpoint cross in the 30th minute that found the head of Ibisevic, who surged in front of Cameron and snapped a header past Howard for his 18th career goal with Bosnia-Herzegovina. Ibisevic is best known in American soccer circles for his college days at Saint Lous University, where he was the NCAA Freshman of the Year in 2003 before he left school early for a career in Europe.
Dzeko added his second goal of the match in the 90th minute with a header in front of Brooks off a cross from Edin Visca, but the hosts couldn’t muster a last push to find the equalizer.
The US return to action on Sept. 6 in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match on the road against Costa Rica in San José before returning home to face Mexico on Sept. 10 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Jozy Altidore (USA)||Not much debate here. Took advantage of the moment and pounced.|
|2||Edin Dzeko (BIH)||Lived up to the billing for those new to his game. World class, pure and simple.|
|3||Michael Bradley (USA)||Helped set up two goals with a gorgeous ball over the top and a perfect lay-off.|