USA 0-0 Serbia
Well, that’s it. Arena can take a lot from this match as the cohesion between Bradley, Kjlestan and Jones seemed positive. In addition, Lletget and Feilhaber looked like solid additions.
Darlington Nagbe definitely made a case to remain as a starter and with more matches you can see his game and confidence improving. Having said all that, this was a home match against a young, inexperienced Serbian team so a goal should have really been expected.
Thanks for tuning, until next time.
End of match
The US worked hard for that winner but couldn’t find it.
90 mins (+1): Morris comes close from the right but he overhits it!
89 mins: That was close as a great shot from short distance is stopped by Rimando...and on the other side Agudelo finds himself inside the box but can’t find the goal! Another shot by Pontius but it goes wide. We’re gonna have three minutes of injury time.
87 mins: Bradley looks for Morris but the Seattle forward is called for offside. Not the right call. We are close to the end and I can’t see a goal...Juan Agudelo looks to hopefully change that as he comes on to replace Nagbe.
83 mins: The US are piling on the pressure but Serbia remain extremely disciplined at the back and not allowing anything to threat their goal. Feilhaber looks lively as he finds Morris but once again, it’s cleared inside the box. Possession is all with Arena’s team right now.
79 mins: Approaching the last ten minutes and this one looks like a stalemate. Kjlestan comes off for Feilhaber, who as soon as he comes in crosses a ball from the right hand side but again nothing to show for it. Cirkovic with a yellow as he fould Nagbe.
75 mins: Pontius does well to stop the cross from the left hand side...and here we go. Morris replaces Jozy Altidore, who leaves his 100th cap without a goal. And straight away, Morris gets involved as he looks to create havoc inside the box, but it’s well defended.
71 mins: And here we go, the man I talked about in the preamble, Villafaña comes in for Greg Garza. Serbia win a soft freekick after Altidore brought Panic to the ground, but it was clearly due to strength than anything else. Simonovic with a shot but it falls to Rimando. Jody Morris is ready to come on.
67 mins: Nagbe once again on the left hand side but struggles to put in a good cross and Serbia clears easily. Not long I think until we see some more changes for USA.
63 mins: Lletget is putting on a show here as he flicks a lovely pass to Nagbe on the left hand side inside the box but Nagbe can’t find anyone. We have an injury on the field for Serbia...Chris Pontius is getting ready to come on. He does for Bedoya.
61 mins: We’ve reached the hour mark and I’m wondering where the creativity will come from? Palocevic once again makes something happen as puts it through for a cross from the right hand side but its cleared by the home side. Palocevic, though, is a special player.
57 mins: Marshall gives the ball away but Zusi picks up the mess. Calasan comes off for Simolovic for Serbia, as the visitors look to alter things tactically. Nagbe is fouled after holding the ball beautifully, but USA can’t do much with it. Kjlestan gets a yellow card as he commits a late tackle trying to stop a counter attack. Palocevic controlling the midfield extremely well for Serbia but can’t find anyone. Lletget again with a great cross from the left hand side but it’s just wide.
53 mins: The tempo has most definitely been lifted by the US as they look to enter the Serbian box as fast as possible, the visitors, however, hold on. A corner for Serbia goes nowhere and it’s picked up by Rimando. Bedoya with a cross in the box from the right hand side but can’t find Altidore...or anyone for that matter.
49 mins: Lletget already making an impact as he finds Altidore again just outside of the box but nothing comes out of it.
45 mins: And we’re back. Lletget comes in for Jones. And right on queue he sets up Bedoya for Altidore who goes one on one but keeper saves it. Great start!
All in all, a solid performance but Serbia is not exactly out there with their best squad so there really should be some more. Arena confirms Jermaine Jones will come out in the second half.
45 mins: We are going to have one minute of injury time. Serbia win a corner but it’s cleared away. Birnbaum receives some medical attention after a collision before Serbia takes another corner... but nothing. That’s the half.
43 mins: Another counter for the US but Serbia are quick to shut it out. As the half nears to an end, Arena should be reasonably happy with his team’s performance. Despite the fact that there hasn’t been a goal yet, there is a lot of chemistry amongst the squad, especially the midfield.
39 mins: An issue that I’m already seeing with Arena’s strategy is the lack of imagination when there’s a need to penetrate the box in the final third. Not enough movement when Jones, Bradley or Kljestan have the ball. If plan A is to use Nagbe and Bedoya and utilize the wide areas, then you need a plan b when that option is not available.
But...plan a seems to be working right now as Jones finds Nagbe on the left, who enters the box and once again looks to bend it past Manojlovic but again it goes wide! It’s all about Nagbe right now.
33 mins: Bradley continues to start play from deep, looking for the wide players. Nagbe again with the ball who looks calm and collected today, seems to be the main target point in the final third but nothing comes out of it. Kjlestan goes down in the box but the ref is not buying it. Things have calmed down for both teams.
29 mins: The high press is working for USMNT as they retain the ball in the final third. Jones finds Bedoya on the right hand side, not before he is fouled, but the ref waves to play on...Bedoya crosses for Altidore but it’s cleared. Moments later, Nagbe comes in from the left hand side and tries a curling shot from outside the box but it goes just wide. A great attempt by USA’s most dangerous player thus far.
25 mins: It’s all happening now. After a period of intense pressure from Serbia, USMNT break with a fantastic counter thanks to Nagbe’s run, the ball ends up with Jones inside Serbia’s box on the right hand side...he puts in a great ball on the ground but no one can get to it. That should have been a goal.
22 mins: Wow. Garza commits a foul and it’s a free kick just outside the box but after review, it’s clearly inside the box and it should be a penalty. The US have gotten away with one here...the free kick eventually turns into nothing but make no mistake about it, Serbia are in control.
20 mins: Serbia get a free kick just outside the box, it’s quickly taken and after a dangerous cross it’s cleared by the US. Things are opening up for both teams.
18 mins: A great knockdown pass by Altidore allows Jones to hit it on the half volley and it goes wide but it’s USMNT’s best chance so far.
17 mins: Serbia are now directing the rhythm of the game as they get more comfortable on the ball and USA doing more chasing. Another great ball from the left hand side but it’s cleared away by Marshall. Arena needs more possession from his team.
13 mins: Serbia slowly getting more involved in this game as they win a free-kick from the left hand side. It’s a great ball in by the aforementioned playmaker Palocevic but no one can get to it. Serbia applying more pressure as they look to remain in USMNT’s half.
9 mins: Arena’s men appear to be in control of the match in these early stages as most of the play taking place in Serbia’s half. Zusi, who is playing as a right back today wins a free kick but USA can’t do much with it as it’s far enough to not cause any issues for the visitors. Bedoya with a great cross but no one can pick it up. Arena is clearly focused on high pressure here as the moment USMNT lose the ball, the immediate response is to press.
5 mins: Michael Bradley has started in such a deep position, almost like a third center back, looking for long balls towards the wide areas but Serbia stand firm. The aim, as predicted, is to search for Nagbe and use his pace but he is getting very little space during these first minutes. Altidore wins a free-kick, about 40 yards away from goal and it looks like he will be the one to take it....but its Kljestan who takes it but it goes straight into the wall.
1 min: And we’re off! USMNT all in white, Serbia in red. For the visitors...look out for Palocevic, Serbia’s main playmaker.
The squads are out and ready for the national anthems, it’s a great day for international soccer and a new era for USMNT as Bruce Arena looks to heal some wounds.
The next time you hear from me will be at kick-off.
It’s a beautiful day in San Diego and the players are warming up. Let’s take a closer look at the squad:
Six of the starters went to the World Cup so it’s clear that Arena wants a win here. The Y formation is clearly there but for me Nagbe could be the man to watch this afternoon - his first ever start for USMNT and he’ll want to take full advantage. His ability to go wide and use his pace will be an asset in the final third and I can see a great partnership between him and Sacha Kljestan.
Once again, here are Michael Bradley’s words regarding Donald Trump and his immigration and refugee executive order.
Just a note: Televised coverage here in the states begins at 4pm ET but kick-off is planned around 4:28pm.
Another note: At 65 years old, Bruce Arena is the oldest USMNT head coach since 1952 (John Wood) - per the ever reliable Paul Carr.
Serbia’s starting XI:
Here’s USMNT starting XI:
A new era for US soccer.
Hello everyone and welcome to this international friendly between the USMNT and Serbia and Bruce Arena’s first match in charge since replacing Jurgen Klinsmann last November.
The squad enter their first competitive fixture since losing 2-1 to Mexico at home and 4-0 at against Costa Rica in San Jose so in many ways this will feel more than just a friendly for the red, white and blue as a desire to write a new page is surely in every player’s mind.
Arena, however, knows that today’s match is not a barometer for tactical excellence but rather the first step towards team cohesion, the learnings of his philosophy, and perhaps more importantly who fits and who doesn’t.
The formation should be an interesting decision. Matthew Doyle brought up a few good points when he wrote about it last weekfor MLS’s website, including Arena’s popular Y formation (a split alternative to a flat midfield) most successfully used by his Galaxy team in 2014.
Personally, I am intrigued to see how Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna, Liga MX) performs. The Mexican-American defender won Sueño MLS (a reality show with 2,000 participants competing for a try-out with Major League Soccer) in 2007 and ended up in Chivas USA’s U-19 squad, which is where his professional career began. Arena likes what the left-back can bring despite his lack of playing time at club level (he has only played in cup matches so far for Santos Laguan)
It will also be a big occasion for Jozy Altidore who is looking for his 100th cap. If he plays, he will become only the 17th player in MNT history to earn that record and the second youngest to achieve it after Landon Donovan.
Stay tuned, I’ll be back with formations.
Luis will be here shortly, in the meantime here’s what Michael Bradley had to say about Donald Trump’s ban on travel from a variety of Muslim majority countries:
“A few hours ago ago I gave an interview to Grant Wahl. After 15 minutes of an interview that was centered around soccer and our national team, he asked me my thoughts on President Trump’s ban on Muslims ... I gave an answer where I tried to make it clear that while I understand the need for safety, the values and ideals of our country should never be sacrificed. I believe what I said, but it was too soft.
“The part I left out is how sad and embarrassed I am. When Trump was elected, I only hoped that ... President Trump would be different than the campaigner Trump. That the xenophobic, misogynistic and narcissistic rhetoric would be replaced with a more humble and measured approach to leading our country. I was wrong. And the Muslim ban is just the latest example of someone who couldn’t be more out of touch with our country and the right way to move forward.”
You can read the full story here: