The U.S. Men's National Team capped off a headline-making year with a 1-0 victory in a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Dec. 18 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. Entering the match with 16 wins, 2 defeats, and 3 draws, the USMNT had already tied the team record for most wins in a calendar year (previously set in 2013), and managed to set a new one thanks to Colorado Rapids' Cole Bassett, who made his national team debut in the 78th minute. Despite Bosnia and Herzegovina playing with 10 and the U.S. maintaining more than 70% possession, the match looked destined for a scoreless draw up until the 89th minute, when Bassett knocked in a rebounded shot to secure the hosts a 1-0 lead.
With nearly the entire starting lineup from the USMNT's last match out with their respective clubs (Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Sergino Dest, Zack Steffen, Timothy Weah, Tyler Adams, Brendon Aaronson, etc.) the game was a prime opportunity for off-season MLS players and young up-and-comers to make an impression on manager Gregg Berhalter ahead of next month's World Cup Qualifiers. In addition to Bassett, three players—Brooks Lennon, Jonathan Gomez, and Cade Cowell—made their debut. Berhalter is no stranger to utilizing young players, having twice sent out starting lineups that were the youngest ever for the national team. On the other side, Bosnia and Herzegovina also fielded a largely untested squad with an average of 23 and a combined 8 caps from 5 players.
The match began with a few spirited attempts from both sides, but was marred by a first-half red card against Bosnia and Herzegovina midfielder Amar Begic for a cleats-up tackle on Kellyn Acosta. The following minutes saw both sides revert to a low-tempo and conservative strategy, with few big chances on goal and an equal amount of shots. The match was given a much-needed boost of energy after a number of second-half substitutions including Gyasi Zardes for Ricardo Pepi, Jackson Yueill for Acosta, and Bryan Reynolds for Johnny Cardoso. (Notably, Pepi received the U.S. Soccer award for Young Male Player of the Year earlier that day to add to his MLS Young Player of the Year accolade.)
The U.S. will play three key World Cup Qualifiers during the winter window starting with a home match on Jan. 27, 2022, against El Salvador, followed by an away game against Canada and a home match against Honduras.