The United States will take on Bosnia-Herzegovina for the first time on Wednesday, with some intriguing new faces in Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad. On an 11-match winning streak that has seen the U.S. establish a strong position in World Cup qualifying as well as lifting the Gold Cup last month, Klinsmann has picked a roster comprised mainly of European-based players. With several regulars not disrupted from their Major League Soccer seasons and four new faces in the squad, the U.S. faces a tough challenge against a talented Bosnian side for the meeting in Sarajevo.
“These are top-class players and that’s what we like to go against,” Klinsmann told USSoccer.com. “We want to have the highest benchmark to always measure ourselves up against. We also want to see the new faces in our group and take that opportunity of getting a couple interesting answers on specific players.”
One of the players that could well make his debut is striker Aron Johansson. Born in Mobile, Ala., but having grown up primarily in his parent’s country of Iceland, the 22-year-old has just received clearance from FIFA to turn out for the U.S. after representing Iceland at Under-21 level. Johansson has ironically taken Jozy Altidore’s spot in the AZ Alkmaar side and has already set about trying to match his fellow U.S. striker’s scoring exploits with two goals to his name in the Eredivisie season. But Johansson has modest expectations for his first time with the national squad.
“This is my first camp so I was just looking forward to meeting the players, the staff and training with them for the first time,” he explained. “Hopefully I continue to play well for my club in Holland and hopefully I can be selected to the squad once again and get some minutes.”
Bosnia should certainly pose a real threat to the U.S.’s record winning streak. A recognized independent team since 1996, Bosnia looks in a strong position to make their first major tournament in Brazil next year having narrowly missed out on the last two occasions. Currently Bosnia sit three points clear of Greece in their World Cup qualifying group. Safet Susic has selected a strong squad for Wednesday’s friendly, featuring the likes of forwards Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic from Manchester City and Stuttgart, respectively, as well as creative talent Miralem Pjanic from Roma.
D: Sunjic, Zukanovic, Spahic, Bicakcic
M: Rahimic, Lulic, Pjanic, Salihovic
F: Ibisevic, Dzeko
D: Evans, Cameron, Ream, F. Johnson
M: Jones, Bradley
Corona, Diskerud, E. Johnson
Prediction: Bosnia have a raft of technically gifted players and in Dzeko a man capable of putting the ball in the net at the highest level. Klinsmann is likely to learn much about several players in what will be a testing 90 minutes. The U.S. could well taste defeat, which may not be all that bad a thing in the long term if it tempers expectations built up during their winning streak against weaker opposition than will be encountered in Brazil next year.
Where to watch: The International friendly will kick-off at 2.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN2, with a live stream available on Watch ESPN.