Coming into yesterday's international date, the United States Men's National Team was riding high with 11 straight wins behind them. Those wins had come against some tough opposition that included Germany (B-team), Jamaica, Panama, and Costa Rica but was also padded with victories over the likes of Cuba, Belize, Guatemala, and so on. On Wednesday, the Yanks would face what would arguably be their toughest test of the run in 13th-ranked (according to FIFA, anyway) Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo.
It was a hybrid American team made up of established A-teamers (no B.A. Baracus or Murdock included) and those on the fringes that made up the US Gold Cup squad. The overarching theme of the team that was called in was that they were players based in Europe, with a few exceptions. The surprise inclusion in the team was, of course, Tim Ream, who had been out of the USMNT picture for nearly two years.
Jurgen Klinsmann, head coach of the American side, has been known to use international friendly call-ups and the related camps as a motivational tool in the past and this was exactly the case for Ream. The Bolton Wanderers defender is arguably third in Dougie Freedman's pecking order, behind Zat Knight and David Wheater, but ahead of Matt Mills and Cian Bolger. Ream featured in pre-season outside of his normal centerback role, instead playing on the left and in midfield. Against Shrewsbury Town in the Capital One Cup, Tim Ream played the full 90 minutes in the center of defense.
He was on the bench against Bosnia but would not get a chance to play. The Americans would however do work without him.
It was a rough start for the high-flying Yanks after Eddie Johnson's giveaway on the edge of the area put Edin Dzeko in on Tim Howard alone and the Manchester City man broke the deadlock on eight minutes. At the half hour mark, it was Vedad Ibisevic, who had played college ball at the same school that Tim Ream did (just a couple years earlier), doubling Bosnia's advantage. The Americans would go into the half by that cliched yet oh so dangerous scoreline of 2-0.
Ten minutes after the break, the Yanks pulled one back through Seattle Sounders man, Eddie Johnson. Michael Bradley started the play, finding Jozy Altidore on the edge of the area. The big American forward spotted an onrushing Asmir Begovic and calmly laid the ball off for Johnson, who had an easy finish.
That's when the Jozy Altidore show began. The new Sunderland man justified his inclusion and then some with his second-half display that single-handedly put Bosnia to the sword. Just four minutes after Johnson's goal, Altidore was set up from the left flank by Fabian Johnson with some fancy work on the wing. The equalizer was lashed into the bottom corner at the far post.
Then, the goal of the match came. The Americans were awarded a free kick in a dangerous area in front of Bosnia's goal, just left of center. Jozy stood over it and placed a dipping, curling, and all around beautiful free kick to the near post, past a diving Begovic to give the Yanks the lead. Altidore would seal his hat trick just two minutes after that (on 86 minutes) with Michael Bradley playing him in after a superb run through the midfield.
Edin Dzeko would pull one back at the death for Bosnia-Herzegovina but it simply was not enough for them and the Americans walked out as 4-3 winners on the day.