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Jozy Altidore hat trick pushes U.S. to 4-3, comeback win over Bosnia and Herzegovina

Aug 14, 2013, 4:42 PM EDT

Honduras v United States - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier Getty Images

The United States men’s national team’s 11-match winning streak was threatened early Wednesday night, the CONCACAF champions going into halftime down two. Then the summer of Jozy Altidore continued, with three goals and an assist in the second half extended the U.S.’s record streak to 12, the team going to Sarajevo and handing Bosnia and Herzegovina a 4-3 loss.

The result was one of the most dramatic turnarounds of the Jurgen Klinsmann era, with a team that looked decidedly second best through 45 minutes finding four second half goals, giving the U.S. their first come-from-behind victory on European soil. It also have the U.S. a surprisingly strong result against FIFA’s 13th-ranked team, a likely-Brazil 2014 qualifier who started most of their best players.

First half goals from Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic gave Bosnia and Herzegovina a two-goal, halftime lead, though a halftime adjustment from Jurgen Klinsmann saw early Eddie Johnson and Jozy Altidore pull the U.S. even within 13 minutes of half time. A free kick in the 85th minute and a close-range finish a minute later completed Altidore’s second international hat trick, mimicking his April 1, 2009 performance in World Cup qualifying at Trinidad and Tobago.

Eddie Johnson recorded the U.S.’s first goal, pulling the team within one 10 minutes into the second half. Dzeko’s second goal, a 90th minute header flicked into the right of Tim Howard’s goal, pulled Bosnia back within one after Altidore’s second half explosion had put the U.S. up two.

Lineup and debuts

A mostly European-based lineup saw 20-year-old John Anthony Brooks get his first senior cap at kickoff, the Hertha Berlin defend who scored on his weekend Bundesliga debut starting to the left of Geoff Cameron in central defense. Fabian Johnson and Brad Evans completed the defensive line in front of Tim Howard.

In midfield, Gold Cup standouts Eddie Johnson, Mikkel Diskerud, and Alejandro Bedoya formed the attacking midfield’s line of three in front of Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones, with Jozy Altidore left alone up top.

Though he didn’t start, AZ Alkmaar striker Aron Jóhansson later joined Brooks in earning his first senior cap, the Iceland youth international having completed his one-time switch to the United States on Tuesday. Entering in the 63rd minute for Eddie Johnson, Jóhansson became permanently committed to the United States.

Defense fails U.S. early

After an even start that saw the U.S. gain traction down their right, a mistake by Eddie Johnson just outside the U.S.’s 18-yard box practically gifted the hosts their opening goal. Standing above the ball six yards from the edge of the penalty area, Johnson hesitated and elected to take an extra touch before being dispossessed. Two touches later, Zvjezdan Misimović put Dezko through on Howard. Through the U.S. number one made the initial stop, a rebound straight back to Dezko allowed the Bosnian star to give his team an eighth minute lead.

It was part of a rough start for Johnson, who also hesitated twice when given the chance to go one-on-one against Biram Bikacic in the left of the Bosnian penalty area. On the other side, however, Bedoya was continuing the strong Gold Cup form that earned the new Nantes winger a start on the right.

Bedoya wasn’t the only American who showed signs of life after Bosnia and Herzegovina’s opener. Altidore was proving troublesome of for the Bosnia defense, drawing fouls from his opposing central defenders, including a 27th minute yellow card from Bosnian captain Emir Saphic. In the 17th minute, Diskerud nearly generated a chance before being ridden off the ball by Elvir Rahimic in the Bosnian penalty area. As the U.S. dictated possession, Michael Bradley controlled the game in front of a deep-sitting Bosnian block.

The U.S. control was rendered irrelevant in the 30th minute, however, when a Bosnian with strong U.S. connections doubled his team’s lead. Vedad Ibisevic, who went to St. Louis University and maintains family in the area, cut in front of Geoff Cameron on a cross from his team’s right flank. Although relays showed Ibisevic may have been offside, the assistant referee’s flag stayed down. Ibisevic’s header give Bosnia and Herzegovina a 2-0 lead.

The rest of the first half was defined by Bosnia’s danger on the counter, the team getting out on four dangerous transitions over the half’s final 15 minutes. Twice Brooks intervened. Another attack failed to generate a chance, while a 35th minute movement from the right after a  Jones turnover allowed Miralem Pjanic a shot from just to the right of the penalty spot. While Roma attacker was unable to bend his shot inside the right post, the U.S. defenders were still left flat-footed by two quick passes and a run through the middle by Pjanic.

The U.S. eventually survived into halftime only down two, but the team hadn’t shown well. Beyond Altidore and Bedoya, nobody stood out, while the struggles of Jones, the central defenders, and Fabian Johnson left the team’s winning streak in doubt.

Klinsmann’s key halftime adjustments

Jurgen Klinsmann adjusted at halftime by switching formations, going from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2. To do so, Klinsmann sacrificed Diskerud in favor of Edgar Castillo, whose insertion at left back pushed Fabian Johnson into midfield. That freed Eddie Johnson to join Altidore up top.

The tweak paid off early in the second half. Bradley, standing over a ball just inside the Bosnian half in the 55th minute, lofted a pass just inside Begovic’s area for Altidore. Though the keeper came for the ball, he couldn’t prevent Altidore from touching a pass to his right for Eddie Johnson, who finished into an open net, making it 2-1.

Three minutes later, the U.S. had their second goal, with Fabian Johnson’s pass into the area finding Altidore cutting in front of Rahimic. The Sunderland striker’s first time, left-footed finish into the right of goal made it 2-2.

Soon, Klinsmann started making chances. In the 63rd minute Jóhansson and Joe Corona were on for Eddie Johnson and Bedoya. Seven minutes later, Sacha Kljestan was on for Jones. By that time, Bosnia had responded to the U.S.’s opening second half surge, but with both managers turning to their benches, it looked unlikely that the deadlock would be broke.

Jóhansson, however, did his best to do so. Two strong shots on goal early in his shift didn’t trouble Begovic, but hey showed more initiative than most were providing over the match’s final half hour. Bosnia tested Howard twice, too, but when Bosnia’s defense was sent sprawling in the 81st minute to deny one of his attacks, Jóhansson looked like the likely game-winner.

Altidore’s late explosion

Two minutes later, however, Altidore stepped back into the spotlight. Taking a rare free kick 21 yards out, Altidore went up-and-over the Bosnia wall to finish into Begovic’s upper-left hand corner, giving the U.S. a chance to extend their 11-match winning streak. When, one minute later, Bradley set up Altidore in the right of the area — much like Altidore had set up Eddie Johnson on the U.S.’s opening goal — Altidore had the 23rd goal of his international career, his scoring streak extended to five games.

Bosnia made it a match four minutes later when Dexko flicked home his second goal of the match, but in the tall striker’s celebration, you could see the match was over. Rather than running to the ball to retrieve it ahead of a quick kickoff, Dzeko’s immediate reaction was relief. Shoulders slumping as he exhaled, Dzeko gave the appearance of a man happy to have stopped the U.S. onslaught.

That onslaught maintains the U.S.’s momentum ahead of the resumption of World Cup Qualifying next month. The U.S. travel to Estadio Nacional in San Jose to face Costa Rica on Sept. 6, returning to Columbus four days later to face Mexico.

  1. mrb415 - Aug 14, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    JOZY!! This guy is definitely gonna be the man for the US in Brazil

    • schmutzdeck - Aug 14, 2013 at 8:34 PM

      Not if he keeps failing to sing the National Anthem.

      The Bosnians were all singing loudly so it should come as no surprise they are so highly rated.

      • mrb415 - Aug 15, 2013 at 3:14 AM

        What are you talking about? The Bosnia Herzegovina national anthem doesn’t have lyrics!

        As for Jozy not singing along … Who cares? I’m sure his German head coach and assistant coaches from Mexico and Austria won’t bench him because he chooses not to do it.

      • lmoneyfresh - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:55 PM

        Wait. When did it become manditory to sing along with the national anthem? As long as he’s standing there with his head down who cares?

      • joeyt360 - Aug 15, 2013 at 5:22 PM

        It was obvious during the broadcast that although the B&H National Anthem officially “doesn’t have lyrics” there’s clearly a set that the fans knew and were singing.

  2. bizzmeister - Aug 14, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    Wow man, WHAT AN EFFFFINNN GAME! Glad I stayed home for this today. I honestly used to despise altidore a couple years ago but wow has he risen to the occasion!!! What a free kick! 12 win in a row in all competitions and the current world record holder as of right now for 12 straight wins!!

    Wow man, havent been this happy and proud of the US National Team in a long time. We actually have an awesome A team and B team now. I can not wait!! Jurgen’s the man!

  3. brad9000 - Aug 14, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    Things seem to be clicking for usmnt! I hope we carry this momentum all the way to brazil! I’m not naive enough to think we’re in the top tier yet but I really want to see how we compete against those that are! U-S-A U-S-A U-S-A!!!!!!

  4. footballer4ever - Aug 14, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    Let the bandwagon doors open up! Just make sure to lock the doors and throw the key away when we hit a bump down the road.

    I got to watch part of the game on tv and on my laptop which i left them on (tv rating purposes) when i had to run some errands . Even though it’s not the same, i got to keep an eye on the game at times on my phone. Gotta love technology nowadays if you are a sports fan. It was mostly a masterpiece mental challenge we overcame to come back after getting scored early and then losing 0-2 by the end of the first half. It has not been an easy road JK is trying to take the US national football team to the paradise city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty named Brazil.

  5. geojock - Aug 14, 2013 at 6:13 PM

    If no one else gained points in the FIFA rankings, today USA would sit 13th in the world.

    • danielofthedale - Aug 14, 2013 at 6:34 PM

      If the US wins both WCQ coming up we could move as night as 11. That would put 3 or 4 spots away from the Seeded Pot for the World Cup Draw. Win the last two WCQ on top of that and there is an outside shot we make it!

  6. newmanggrrr - Aug 14, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    Amazing effort by Jozy! Paulo di Canio must be loving it. He probably hasn’t liked anyone this much since Mussolini….

  7. hildezero - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:15 AM

    Lol. ^ this guy.

  8. grm35741 - Aug 15, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    First, I liked the first half. I did not like the goals of course but I never felt the US could not hold the ball and compete. The never had to just hunker down, defend kick it out like we have seen for so many years. With a little luck we would have scored and Bosnia would have had one less with as proper offsides call.
    No mention of Brad Evans in the match reports. He showed soooo much. The height any coach dreams of AND the ability to take care of his job in the back and make runs forward. I see him getting a big time offer. MIX, again no mention. should of had a PK but his relentless chasing, pressure, passes created MANY US opportunities to go forward. JJ- How many times did he just give up when things did not go his way.
    We have better PLAYERS.
    The comments about the scoring happening against the Bosnia subs? The US did not bring it’s best players, Dempsey, Donavan ,Gonzales,Besler, Zusi etc etc etc. A 20 year old got beaten by one of the worlds best striker. So What.!! The us subbed in the second half as well and put it on them!
    A great game and the boys have BELIEF! I like it.

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