At 2:30pm ET today, the USA will face Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s men are looking to extend their record unbeaten streak to 12 games, but this friendly in Eastern Europe will be their toughest test for quite a while.
Following their Gold Cup domination over the summer, Klinsmann now has the chance to run the rule over plenty of his European based contingent. For the Euro-Yanks, this friendly will act as their audition to make the squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
They don’t get a month playing in the Gold Cup to impress Klinsi and his staff. They get one game.
So for some of the players on the bubble, this is crucial.
Confusingly, we didn’t officially know the USMNT squad until barely 48 hours before the game kicks off in the Koševo Stadium. As players streamed towards Eastern Europe via connecting flights in Munich, we got some semblance of which stars are hoping to shine for the stars and stripes.
(MORE: US national team names squad for Bosnia friendly)
These guys are aiming to put on a show. But doing that against Bosnia, in Bosnia, will not be easy.
Boasting the likes of Manchester City’s star striker Edin Dzeko, Bosnia are currently ranked 13th by FIFA. The highest ranking in their history since becoming a FIFA member in 1996. They’re on course to qualify for the World Cup, this will be a huge test.
Bosnia aside, we will learn what European based youngsters are ready for the US national team.
The Bundesliga duo of John Anthony Brooks and Bobby Woodare joined by another newbie, Aron Johannsson. They’ll all be closely watched by Nats fans. They’ve all been creating headlines in the Bundesliga and Eredivisie in recent months and JAB is certainly a center back to get excited about. The USA have managed to snatch him away from the German national team, while we all know about the Icelandic FA’s displeasure at losing Johannsson to the USA. Wood is an exciting young striker that adds extra depth. All three will surely feature in Sarajevo. Their audition starts now.
(MORE: A precious chance to impress for a few USMNT faces in Sarajevo)
However, the sides mentality will also be tested.
Does the 11-game winning streak really matter? After all the good work by the Gold Cup squad this summer, a different mix of players will surely want to keep that feel-good factor going.
But with that comes pressure. The European based players will have been watching on with admiration and a hint of resentment as the mostly MLS based squad swept aside the best CONCACAF had to offer.
Now it’s their chance to prove just how much better they are. Against much better opposition, the likes of Sacha Kljestan, Danny Williams and Terrence Boyd will need to show just how good they are. This is huge for the fringe players based in Europe, it will be intriguing to see how they get on.
After Kyle Beckerman, Eddie Johnson and Chris Wondolowski pushed further into Klinsmann’s plans this summer, now the European players have their shot to do the same. Four of the Gold Cup squad are included, Brad Evans, Johnson, Michael Parkhurst and Joe Corona, as Klinsmann continues to scratch his head on what his best team is.
(MORE: A few conclusions, notes on Monday’s USMNT roster announcement)
Later this afternoon, we will find out how strong this US national team roster really is. We often talk about the new found strength in depth of Klinsmann’s squad but beating Bosnia away from home in hostile surroundings is much different than beating Belize in Portland.
Here’s hoping the USMNT can keep the winning streak going. But the result doesn’t really matter today in Sarajevo. The audition for next summer’s World Cup continues. Now the European-Yanks get their chance to impress.
Let’s hope they don’t fluff their lines.