It took some time but Cole Bassett would come to the rescue of the United States men’s national team with his debut goal in their win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in Carson, California, on Saturday.
With many of the Europen-based players unable to come over for the game as it did not fall within the FIFA calendar, U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter relied on a primarily MLS-based squad as he needs a number of them fit ahead of the restart of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in January 2022.
Berhalter entered the contest with his usual 4-3-3 formation, giving four players their debuts, namely Bassett, Brooks Lennon, Cade Cowell, and Jonathan Gomez.
The hosts started out well but were left frustrated with the end product. Ricardo Pepi had an excellent chance to break the scoreless deadlock in the 14th minute when Lennon whipped in a cross from the right side, but the FC Dallas man totally missed the ball to steer it home.
Bosnia, who only had domestic players at their disposal for the game, had a chance before the half-hour mark from a free-kick. After a battle to clear the ball from the area, a shot was put on target but Matt Turner was there to make the save.
Jordan Morris, who returned to the national team following rehab from a knee injury back in February, came very close to scoring seconds later when he put a diving header on target following a cross from Jesus Ferreira. However, Bosnian goalkeeper Nikola Cetkovic was able to keep the ball out of the goal with a leg save.
The game would then take a turn in the 40th minute when the referee showed a red card to Amar Begic following a tough tackle on Kellyn Acosta. Despite the one-man advantage, the U.S. could not find the breakthrough as both teams headed to the dressing rooms for halftime.
The second half would show the U.S. still struggling to find a way to break down the 10-man Bosnian team. However, as it appeared that the game would head towards a draw, the hosts finally scored in the 89th minute.
Bryan Reynolds, who was allowed to join up with the team from AS Roma, whipped in a cross from the right. Gyasi Zardes then passed the ball to the debuting Gomez, who unleased a left-footed shot on goal. Bosnia’s backup goalkeeper Belmin Dizdarevic would block the attempt, but Bassett pounced on the loose ball to bury it home.
The win made number 17 on the year, which surpasses the record the U.S. set in 2013.
Following the holiday festivities, it will be back to work as the U.S. prepares to resume World Cup qualifying with their first game set for Jan. 27 against El Salvador.