Preview: Lawrence Dockery breaks down the national team’s final game as the USMNT hosts Bosnia & Herzegovina on Saturday, December 18.
This year was remarkable for the USMNT. It won the Nations League and the Gold Cup, edging rivals Mexico in both finals. Also the U.S. currently stands in second in the Octagonal attempting to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
But, one last game remains in the calendar year. On Saturday, the U.S. goes for a record-breaking win. With a win at Dignity Health Sports Park, the USMNT will have its 18th win of the year, slightly breaking the existing record of 17.
The opponent: Bosnia & Herzegovina.
A rare December fixture
If it seems odd that the USMNT is playing a game in the month of December, that’s because it is.
However, with the World Cup Qualifying calendar laid out the way it is, qualifying resumes in January. This particular U.S. camp takes the place of the usual January Camp. Traditionally, mostly MLS-based players join the national team for a month in California and end it with a friendly or two.
Gregg Berhalter called in a squad for this one-off friendly consisting almost exclusively of domestic-club players. The exceptions are defender Bryan Reynolds (AS Roma), midfielder Johnny Cardoso (Internacional), and forwards Taylor Booth (Bayern Munich II) and Caden Clark (RB Leipzig).
However, not all domestic players are plying their trade in MLS. Notably, 18-year-old defender Jonathan Gomez spent the last two seasons playing for USL Championship powerhouse Louisville City. The U.S. and Mexico both recruited Gomez extensively.
On top of the non-MLS players a number of usual suspects are on the roster. The New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner, Walker Zimmerman of Nashville SC, Colorado’s Kellyn Acosta and Gyasi Zardez from the Columbus Crew all appear on the squad sheet.
While the U.S. remains well-in the hunt for a spot at Qatar 2022, the same cannot be said about Bosnia and Herzegovina. The nation will stay home largely due to a dismal 2021. This year, the squad won just two games, a friendly win over Kuwait, 1-0, and a 2-0 win against Kazakhstan during qualifying. Sure, a brutal group did not help in World Cup Qualifying. Bosnia and Herzegovina finished fourth behind France, Ukraine and Finland, but just four points ahead of Kazakhstan. Manager Ivaylo Petev called up a shockingly young squad. Only five players coming to California have caps, but no one has more than two appearances.
USMNT hosts Bosnia & Herzegovina
This is the second-straight year with a December game for the USMNT. However, the last time before then in which the USMNT featured in December was back in 2001. Then, the squad fell away to South Korea, 1-0.
Saturday’s game kicks off from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA, at 8 p.m. ET. Coverage is on FS1, as well as UniMás and TUDN.
This will be just the third time these two nations meet, with the last contest coming in January, 2018. Then, the teams played to a scoreless draw, also at Dignity Health Sports Park. The U.S. won the previous game in the series.
This game serves as a tune-up before the U.S. restarts the Octagonal with a key stretch in January. The first game of that three-game January window is on Thursday, January 27. The USMNT hosts El Salvador at Lower.com Field in Columbus, OH.
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