If you didn’t watch the game and are reading this to see how our very own RSL youngsters did then I will save you some time, they didn’t play. Not only did they not play they didn’t even make it into the 18 man lineup. Matt Doyle sarcastically summed up how we all felt with this tweet:
We have two promising LBs under age 25 (Vincent & Acosta). Best not get them minutes now!https://t.co/WZBP8fkyjj— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) January 29, 2018
The lineup choices by the interim head coach Dave Sarachan lacked adventure or risk. The starters were comprised of most of the same guys that Sarachan and Arena had on their radar toward the end of the last qualifying cycle. Guys like Walker Zimmerman, Jordan Morris, Christian Roldan and Gyasi Zardes. This was the moment we were to explore the potential of guys who are relatively unknown at the senior level and instead we opted to play safe. Really, when will the Zardes hype-train finally come to a stop?
I think I am particularly discouraged that Justen Glad didn’t see the field. Ike Opara, the reigning MLS defender of the year had a solid performance in the back but Walker Zimmerman left a lot to be desired. I would have loved to have seen Glad replace him in the second half, he certainly couldn’t have played worse than Zimmerman.
First Half: There isn’t a whole lot to discuss in terms of the first half. The youth and inexperience in playing with each other was evident for both teams. Neither team did a whole lot to create chances and it was honestly a bit of a bore. The US’s expected first-half goals were a paltry 0.38 xG on 4 shots. Bosnia and Herzegovina was even worse at 0.28 xG on 2 shots. It was boring.
Second Half: Both teams came out of the half-time break with more pep in their step and chances started to come. The game became more entertaining as the field opened up and both teams found the ability to link up in the final third. If the US players collectively had a better first touch the score line would be a lot different than 0-0. Seattle Sounders man Christian Roldan had arguably the best opportunity for the US team on the night but chunked his first touch bad enough that the defense had time to recover.
Jordan Morris and Kelyn Rowe both had decent opportunities in the second half as well but Rowe saw his attempted heel flick from a low driven cross go wide left, while Morris put in the work to bring down a nicely weighted ball from Wil Trapp only to see his own shot go wide right.
Returning back to Zimmerman’s night, he gave the game its best chance at a goal when he conceded a penalty to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Fortunately for the US the shot smashed off of the right post and safely out of danger. The penalty was indicative of Zimmerman’s night, he really struggled to read the game and react in time.
I’m giving the save of the night to Bill Hamid who was put in a really tough spot in the first half against a Bosnia-Herzegovina point blank shot. After a poor clearance by Zimmerman (if you haven’t caught on, he had a rough night) the ball fell at the feet of a Bosnian attacker but Hamid stayed big and was able to parry the shot away.
The assist of the night goes to second half substitute Juan Agudelo. After multiple attempts by the 4th official to hold up the substitution board, Agudelo came to the rescue and provided the crucial assist and funniest moment of the night.
Parting thoughts: On an evening when US fans across the country could have emotionally benefited from a win, and RSL fans would have swelled with pride to see Glad, Acosta, or Lennon take the field, it was sadly not meant to be. Despite the twitterverse reaching for the panic button we need to keep in mind that January camp is for the development of young players. None of the European players of note were on the roster as they are all firmly cemented in their club season at this time. The likes of Christian Pulisic, John Anthony Brooks, Weston McKinnie, Deandre Yedlin, and Bobby Wood were nowhere to be seen.
So let’s take the game for what it was worth, a reprieve from the drudgery of every day life. After all, this team has no official head coach, no technical director, and a federation president on their way out the door. There is still plenty of time before a meaningful game will played by the Yanks. Until then, enjoy the highlights from this one.