On a night where the United States men’s national team took on Bosnia and Herzegovina, many young players would get their opportunity to take the center stage.
CARSON — The United States men’s soccer team is currently in flux. Manager Bruce Arena resigned, after the United States failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. U.S. soccer president Sunil Gulati will not run for re-election. Both situations have opened up the door for new opportunities for others to step in.
Currently, manager Dave Sarachan has been at the head of the rebuilding process for the U.S. men’s squad. He has taken a group of young players in during January’s camp and many are now playing in their first match with the men’s club.
Philadelphia Union forward C.J. Sapong, D.C. United winger Paul Arriola, Chicago Fire defender Matt Polster and New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams were all looking to make a name for themselves during the match. At times, they showed up in a big way, especially when it came to creating opportunities to score.
Sapong had the first opportunity, playing on a misplayed ball and taking a shot at Qarabag goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic in the seventh minute. Seattle Sounders striker Jordan Morris and Columbus Crew midfielder and U.S. team captain Wil Trapp connected on a pass from the latter in the 23rd minute. Morris sent in a cross, but was stopped by Sehic. Sporting Kansas City defender Ike Opara made a sliding challenge in the 29th minute to prevent a run.
Morris would make another play, crossing the ball into the air in the 38th minute. Sapong made a run and headed the ball, but Sehic made the save. Los Angeles FC center back Walker Zimmerman served up a sure goal on a platter, on a Bosnian cross. However, former DC United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, made the save in the 43rd minute.
At halftime, Crew goalie Zack Steffen replaced Hamid, along with Arriola and New England Revolution Kelyn Rowe entering the game in place of Sapong and Gyasi Zardes, on the attack. Arriola and Rowe immediately made an attack on goal. Arriola passed the ball to Morris, who crossed it to Rowe, who attempted to back heel it in.
Trapp would send in a ball from midfield to Morris, just minutes later. Morris couldn’t finish. Trapp and Zimmerman would later commit fouls, with Zimmerman’s leading to a penalty kick. Steffen incorrectly guessed which way Haris Medunjanin would go with his free kick, but the ball bounced off of the right side of the post, allowing for the U.S. to take a deep breathe. Steffen later rejected a Luka Menalo attempt on goal.
New England Revolution striker Juan Agudelo found Rowe with a precise pass. Rowe lifted the ball into the box for Morris, but Morris decided to take the ball on the dribble. That attempt was stopped in its tracks.
0-0. USA possessed the ball for 49% of the match, but had three shots on target, versus Bosnia and Herzegovina’s two. In addition, USA had nine total shots, versus Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 10.
Of course, this is just the beginning of the year for the U.S. men’s team. They will play more games, but they still don’t have a direction because the program doesn’t have a president or a full-time manager. As a whole, the United States men’s team is still looking for stability and it could come with time more time together on the pitch, as well as an overhaul of the youth system.
(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)