Bruce Arena makes his return as USMNT manager against Serbia in a friendly tune-up match. The USMNT opens in a 4-2-3-1 with all 11 comprised of MLS players Arena has #FreedNagbe so this should be interesting.
Zusi is at right back which I can’t recall seeing him play for the USMNT before. Greg Garza at left back leaving Birnbaum and Marshall (both deadly on set pieces) as centerbacks. Bradley and Jermaine Jones sit in front of the backline as your defensive mids. I still don’t envision Jermaine Jones being a mainstay in the years ahead but maybe he has enough in the tank to contribute to get us to the World Cup. Sasha Kljestan returns as the #10 flanked on his left by Nagbe and Bedoya on the right. Klejstan missed his opportunities to make his mark when Klinsmann was in charge. Altidore as the #9 alone. Interesting game note here sure to piss off Wambach, Donovan, Howard, and Donald Trump.
*And a former refugee according to Chris Rifer in the form of one Darlington Nagbe. I’m hoping we see either something pregame or after a goal celebration to note this fact.
ESPN is really excited about the conquering hero’s return in the form of Bruce Arena. Its like those times Barry Alvarez coached a couple Bowl games except with more jingoism. Ian Darke accurately describes Arena as a fireman.
Couple of the mascots didn’t remember to turn and face the flag so the #AllWhiteLivesMatter crowd probably is upset.
3′ Bradley sort of sitting deep enough to be another centerback when the USMNT is on the ball. Zusi venturing fwd on the right a bit. Nagbe gets his first touch and my heart skips a beat.
5′ Altidore draws the foul in shooting range for somebody about 30-35 yards from goal? Klejstan slams it directly into the wall and nothing comes from the carom. Not much in the way of adventure thus far as both teams appear to just want to avoid getting drawn out. Altidore fouled again this time on the wing. Klejstan with a decent effort swung in but Birnbaum can’t really get on it.
8′ US pounce off a turnover but too many passes and too little interest in driving fwd and the opportunity fizzles. Zusi fouled a minute later and Klejstan with another good ball but Serbia is first to it. not clear to me what Serbia is intending when they do clear their lines. Very little in the way of outlets. US pressing high and its bothering the visitors. Klejstan wins it and finds Bedoya on the right but the Union man picked the wrong ball and easily dealt with by the Serbian defense.
12′ Serbia first real interest in challenging US goal. Cross into a dangerous area and horrendous flop as Zusi pokes the ball away. Next attack thwarted by a solid US offside trap.
17′ US have not generated much in the way of an attack. Serbia starting to send some hopeful crosses. Serbia exploring down the left side testing Zusi in his new role. So far he’s done enough to limit the openings and nobody from Serbia to target in the area anyways. Nagbe with an incisive burst down the left but Jones does nothing with it. Altidore flicks a header back to Jones and Jones powers a half volley but it was always going wide. Great ball from Bradley to start the sequence.
21′ Serbia get a free kick 25 yards from goal off a careless US foul but for some reason do a quick kick. I once got yanked from the game and harangued for doing that. Cross delivered by Jermaine Jones rises to clear and the resulting CK comes to nothing. Greg Garza misjudges the ball and collides with Serbian player who flicks the header past him. It looked inside the area to me but ref gives it just outside the 18. Low driven free kick is free for a moment before Bradley stabs away.
24′ Serbia now exploirng the right flank and all sort of room for them. Strong challenge from Chard Marshall squashes the threat. Off the counter Nagbe starts the counter and Altidore to Klejstan to Bedoya to Jones and Jones fizzes in the ball across the 6 but nobody from the US can get a touch. Ball bounces out to the penalty spot but nobody was making a late run and Serbia clear. That was more lively from the US and I will continue to believe fast break soccer is our best offense. Nagbe with a chance to beat his man 1-on-1 and be in but good defending steers him away.
29′ Bradley clearly more comfrotable spraying pass from deep. He picks out Nagbe and Nagbe curls a shot from the corner of the area. GK was rooted to his spot but the ball doesn’t have enough dip and sails wide. Ian Darke praises Nagbe as the most lively US player thus far.
32′ US controlling possession for longer spells now as Serbia absorbing pressure and occasionally looking to break down the channels.
37′ Altidore not always precise with his distribution after taking up a good position. Missed a few opportunities for teammates working off him. Serbia still drawing fouls but are lacking somebody to deliver a more impactful serve. CLOSE! Off a counter started by Birnbaum and Jermaien Jones flicks to Nagbe. He cuts inside on his right and curls again to the far post but its about a yard wide. Twellman says nice effort, but Altidore was open had Nagbe taken his eyes off goal. Best chance yet for either team (well other than the non penalty kick that Serbia probably earned).
The counter is clearly when the US sparks to life but it needs to be fast. Some sputter out as a few extra passes rob the venom from the attack. Garza and Zusi offering next to nothing in attacks from the fullback position.
Half ends with successive CK from Serbia. Birnbaum down in a heap and gets some medical attention. Nothing comes from it.
HALFTIME USA 0 Serbia 0
47′ new man Lletget finds Bedoya who links with Klejstan. Ball just a touch too heavy towards Altidore to get a shot away as GK smothers the shot. CK comes to nothing. Next attack towards Altidore and the #9 can’t get the ball out of his feet. Worked well through the middle by Lletget. He has certain made his mark at the start of the 2nd half.
52′ Serbian CK poses no danger. Run down the left and Zusi reads it well and slides in to cut it out.
57′ Nagbe still clowning people in midfield. Klejstan picks up a yellow. I get it, appeared to be somewhat tactical as Serbian player was surging fwd. Nagbe picks out Lleget on the left and cross into Klesjtan but he can’t get anything by the header and it floats wide of the Serbian post. Lletget nearly in as Nagbe finds Klejstan but the LA Galaxy mind can’t stay under control. Zusi for the first time looks lost as he misjudges a Serbian cross.
62′ pretty linkup play between Klestjan and Nagbe and Nagbe cuts it back but Altiodre was blanketed by Serbian defenders. Twellman notes that Altidore was the only target and really not much there for Nagbe to aim at. Those two could be a nice combination moving fwd which is really all we want from this game. Bedoya off for Pontious.
66′ Serbia started to whip in some dangerous crosses but so far come to nothing. Nice turn by Serbian #9 but shot was well off the mark. Bradley with a nice chip to Zusi who had come fwd from the left but he bungles the touch. Ex Timber Jorge Villafana with his 1st cap on at left back for Garza. His first touch leaves something to be desired as he scuffs it towards the middle.
72′ game starting to open a little bit as both teams venturing fwd more. Bradley doing his typical industrious work tracking back and disrupting attacks. Jordan Morris on for Atlidore. Right away Klejstan plays him in but Morris seems indecisive to go alone or cut it back and in the end tries both and does neither successfully. Zusi covers a tricky Serbian cross well and Rimando gratefully cradles.
78′ Another throwback Benny Feilheiber on and straight away earns a corner. Pontious cross can’t find anyone this time. US increasing the pressure on the Serbian backline but still can’t completely unlock the visitors. Time and again in position for the final service but too few US shirts crashing the area to scramble the Serbian defense.
82′ Nagbe draws a yellow off a slick turn. Feilharbrer dangerous ball in and Nagbe and Bradley keep it in. Feilharber does well to bust up a Serbian counter. Lletget does well to pick out Morris in a crowd but the Sounders #9 with a poor first touch as he slams the window shut on himself. Morris then harshly adjudged offside or he was 1-on-1.
87′ Nagbe makes way for Aguadelo. Nagbe definite the MOTM barring some late heroics. Bradley with a poor giveaway s US was clamping down on the Serbian defense. Serbian break the pressure but no calvary arrives and US pushing fwd again. Serbia with a 1-man attack and strong shot parried away by Rimando.
90′ Agudelo sqiurms through poked away only as far as Pontious and his shot is inches wide. Tried to bend it to the far corner but can’t even keep it on frame. That was probably the best chance of the game. Morris races fwd of a nice flick from Feilharber and Morris gets it all wrong and skies his shot.
93′ Villafana with his first chance to get fwd and floats in a decent cross but yet again nobody there to meet it.
FULL TIME US 0 Serbia 0
- Darlington Nagbe was clearly the MOTM and should be fun seeing him involved in the USMNT.
- Jermaine Jones probably doesn’t need to be used anymore for the USMNT. But maybe he’ll be more useful as he gets into form during the MLS season.
- Bradley sitting deeper is clearly the best position on the pitch for him. Does a nice job covering for the backline and launching attacks.
- Sasha Klestajan and Sebastian Lletget did solid work in the central midfield. Worth keeping them in as #10s as WCQ picks up. As the game opened up late as subs came on Feilharber’s energy was a welcome addition.
- I loved Alejandro Bedoya but this was not his best day. He could find himself falling out of favor with more performance like this and new depth at midfield.
- Altidore a quiet day. Jordan Morris is too inconsistent to be trusted. Tremendous pace and energy but his technical ability is so rough. Just seems wild. Not as much composure in the final 1/3 as you’d like. But he is still young.