This past Sunday, the United States Men’s National Team came together for their first match of 2018. Led by Dave Sarachan, the United States went into Carson, California to face Bosnia and Herzegovina, who was being coached by Robert Prosinecki in his first game managing the club.
Both sides featured both an inexperienced manager and roster heading into the game. With both nations failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the managers turned to a more youthful lineup with goals of looking into the future of soccer in their respective nations. Both sides played without any real leader on the team, as many of the best players from both countries were kept out of the team. Although both sides had talented playmakers, the lack of chemistry and leadership hindered both sides for the duration of the match.
The entirety of the first half was stale and disconnected offensively for the United States. CJ Sapong failed to find much connection with the midfield and relied on a miscommunication from the inexperienced back line of Bosnia and Herzegovina to win the United States best chance of the half. Sapong ran onto the end of a terrible back pass by BIH and tried to take advantage of the gift by chipping the goalkeeper, but it was palmed out and away for a USA corner kick. The remainder of the first half was filled with disjointed buildup and strong defensive play to keep the game scoreless at the half.
In the second half, the game opened up for the United States as more experienced and gifted players came on. Paul Arriola and Kelyn Rowe came on in the second half and began to provide a sense of balance and control to the USA side. In the 51st minute, Will Trapp played a beautiful ball over the top of the back line that allowed Jordan Morris to get on the end of it, but ended in a futile chance. The very next minute, Bosnia and Herzegovina get into the USA penalty area and a foul is committed by the new LAFC defender, Walker Zimmerman. Fortunately for the United States, the BIH penalty taker, Haris Medunjanin, misplaced his kick as it went off the post and back into play. The United States and Bosnia and Herzegovina exchanged half-chances for the remainder of the fixture until the final whistle blew and there was a scoreless draw.
This result means that it is the second straight draw for Sarachan as the interim manager. Although he has fielded a youthful team full of playmakers and unrivaled athleticism, he is missing a couple pieces that could tie the team together technically and tactically. The main problem with team is the lack of identity and direction moving forward. With the superstars of the past like Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Tim Howard fading out of their prime, the United States needs to become reliant on team cohesiveness as opposed to moments of individual brilliance. Sarachan needs to find his core members that he believes are the face and future of U.S. Soccer and can bring the results and tenacity that the United States are used to having.