CARSON, Calif. (Jan. 28, 2018) – The U.S. Men’s National Team had its chances on both sides of halftime as it played to a spirited 0-0 draw with Bosnia and Herzegovina in the first game of 2018 on Sunday night at StubHub Center. Starting defenders Ike Opara and Matt Polster as well as substitute goalkeeper Zack Steffen were handed their international debuts, while Wil Trapp captained the MNT in his first start.
The U.S. came closest to a first-half goal just seven minutes in when striker CJ Sapong alertly latched onto an errant back pass and powered an effort that forced Ibrahim Šehić to push the ball out for a corner kick.
A mostly even first half saw Bosnia nearly go up 1-0 just before the break when Luka Menalo pounced on a loose ball in the box, only to have goalkeeper Bill Hamid come off his line to turn away the danger in the 43rd minute.
Things opened up on the other side of the break, beginning with a fantastic chance for the MNT. A ball over the top from Wil Trapp found Jordan Morris striding into the area before he brought it down with a deft touch. Morris pulled to his right past Šehić, but put his low effort just wide of the post in the 51st minute.
Two minutes later it was Bosnia who saw a chance go begging. Catching the U.S. in transition, Menalo appeared to foul Trapp just outside the area before being slightly upended by Walker Zimmerman inside the box. Referee Hector Martinez awarded the visitors a penalty kick, but captain Haris Medunjanin’s left-footed take pinged off the lower left post, keeping things scoreless in the 53rd minute.
The U.S. punched back at the hour mark when a nice diagonal ball from Kelyn Rowe picked out Matt Polster striding down the right flank. The full back’s low cross was partially deflected, but fell for Cristian Roldan who drove his shot just past the left post.
After seeing the earlier penalty kick go off his left post, substitute goalkeeper Zack Steffen was called into action into action in the 67th minute as Menalo forced a diving save out of the debutante ‘keeper.
Both teams traded strong attacking sequences in the closing moments, only to have Opara turn away danger in the 79th minute before OGnjen Todorović returned the favor one minute later as the side’s settled for a 0-0 draw to open the year.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
BIH – Ibrahim Šehić, 7th minute: The U.S. had the first good look of the game when a misplaced back pass out of midfield skipped past Haris Medunjanin. MNT front runner CJ Sapong alertly latched onto the ball, beating his Philadelphia Union teammate and defender Marko Mihojević into the box on the left before firing a powerful effort that Šehić had to push over the bar for a corner kick.
BIH – Ibrahim Šehić, 23rd minute: After shifting the ball around the center circle, Cristian Roldan hit a pinpoint diagonal ball over the top for Jordan Morris on the left. Morris collected before powering past Darko Todorović and crossing, but Šehić was there to collect it as Roldan lurked at the six-yard-box.
USA – Ike Opara, 29th minute: Bosnia’s first chance of the game came just before the half-hour mark when Luca Menalo latched onto a nice ball down the left. The forward sped past Gyasi Zardes and to the end line before turning on a low cross for Mersudin Ahmetović, but the debutante Opara came through came through to clear the ball out for a corner kick at the near post.
BIH – Ibrahim Šehić, 38th minute: A nice bit of work from Tyler Adams in midfield was followed by an outlet pass to Sapong on the left. The target-man held up the ball before sending Morris down the flank and into the box. His initial cross was turned right back to him by Almir Bekić and his second attempt was popped up in the air where Sapong came through with a header that was well held by Sehić.
USA – Bill Hamid, 43th minute: Untested through the first 43 minutes, Hamid turned away the best chance of the half right before the break. Tomislav Tomić broke into the box on the right and centered a pass at the end line which got caught up in the feet of Walker Zimmerman. Menalo was there to pounce on the loose ball, but saw his attempt denied by the Hamid’s right leg as the goalkeeper drove off his line.
USA – Zack Steffen, 67th minute: After both teams saw early first-half efforts going begging, the debutante ‘keeper was called into action. Menalo broke into the box and danced past two U.S. defenders before hitting a low shot that saw Steffen sprawl out to his left before collecting at the edge of the area.
USA – Ike Opara, 79th minute: Bosnia came close again as Ognjen Todorović penetrated up the left and centered a pass for Elvir Koljic, but Opara came through quickly to deny the attempt and keep things level.
BIH – Darko Todorović, 80th minute: Substitute Juan Agudelo swung in a ball to his New England Revolution teammate Kelyn Rowe. The winger played a simple touch on the edge of the box for Morris, but his attempt was put out for a corner by Todorović
- The U.S. moves to 1-0-1 all-time vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- Six starters were 25 and younger: Trapp (25); Polster, Zimmerman (24); Morris (23); Roldan (22); Adams (18)
- Starting defenders Ike Opara and Matt Polster and substitute goalkeeper Zack Steffen each collected their MNT debuts.
- Along with earning his first start at the senior international level, Wil Trapp captained the MNT for the first time.
- With one save each, goalkeepers Bill Hamid and Zack Steffen kept the clean sheet for the MNT.
- With both teams dressing 20 players, the healthy scratches from the game-day roster were goalkeepers Alex Bono and Cody Cropper; defenders Danny Acosta, Justen Glad and Brandon Vincent; midfielders Marlon Hairston, Ian Harkes and Brooks Lennon; forward Christian Ramirez.