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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Rapids star Cole Bassett’s late goal on debut helped America beat Bosnia 1-0

CARSON, Calif. — Cole Bassett wrote down his two main goals for the U.S. national team’s two-week December camp and left them to sit on his bed so he could see them every day.

“Make your debut, and score a goal,” Bassett recalled.

The 20-year-old Littleton native and Colorado Rapids midfielder crossed everything on his Christmas list Saturday night while the Americans wrapped up the holiday with one last win and even more optimism for the next month.

Bassett scored in the 89th minute of his US debut and the Americans set a calendar year win record with a 1-0 exhibition win over 10-man Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday night.

He became the second Colorado Rapids player to score a game-winning score for the USMNT in 2021. Sam Vine’s first international goal was also a game-winner, coming against Haiti in the Gold Cup in June.

After a disappointing second half for an American team struggling to break Bosnia’s conservative setup, Bassett rebounded a shot by 18-year-old Jonathan Gomez, leading former Louisville City defender Real Sociedad. Gomez also made his US debut as a second-half substitute.

The newcomer’s goal saved the Americans’ 17th win of 2021, surpassing the 2013 record.

“Jogo’s got a good shot, and I always try to smell the goals and be in the right place,” said Bassett, the 57th player to score on his US debut. “I’ve dreamed about my whole life to play for the national team. … For me to finally be here and score in this moment, it’s something special, especially for my family, because they brought me here. sacrificed a lot for it.”

The four Americans made their national team debut with an American player group consisting almost exclusively of home-based talent. Manager Greg Berhalter, attempting to expand the width of his player pool, organized a camp to keep his players fit for major competitions next month.

After leading 17-2-3 (.841) in 2021, the American team posted the biggest win percentage in a year with at least five matches, the Americans having won three against El Salvador on January 27. Started a string of World Cup qualifiers.

“It was fast and furious, but whatever was called for, it came,” Berhalter said of the US’s busy 2021 schedule, which included a competitive match in 10 out of 12 months. “We are proud to show our resilience to this group and continue to compete against a compact opponent. … It wasn’t pretty, but they pulled off.”

Bassett’s late goal made a major impact on the US men’s first appearance since February 2020 at the LA Galaxy’s suburban stadium. The US team is 13-2-3 with 11 shutouts at the venue, currently named Dignity Health Sports Park.

Matt Turner received his ninth shutout, surpassing Casey Keller’s one-year record for American goalscorers in 2005. Turner featured in 13 matches this year, the most by an American keeper in his first year.

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Berhalter has now given debuts to 53 players in charge of his 44 matches. This is the third-most newcomer to chance under any coach in American history, and Berhalter has done so in far fewer games than either Bob Bradley or Bruce Arena.

Atlanta United defender Brooks Lennon made his US debut against Bosnia in the 24-year-old Arizona native. Bassett and 18-year-old defender Cade Cowell debuted in the 78th minute, and Gomez followed in the 84th minute.

Henry Kessler of New England also made his second appearance, while Johnny Cardoso of The International made his third. Roma defender Brian Reynolds came in the second half to play in the US for his second career.

This raw American lineup struggled to mount a consistent attack against a Bosnian team, with eight starters making their first international appearance.

Bosnia has already been eliminated from World Cup qualification, and the exhibition was not in the FIFA window, leaving its federation to field a team of inexperienced players from its top domestic league, while Edin Deco, Miralem Pajnik, Asmir Begovic and Ceed Kolasinac were international stars. stayed in Europe.

American midfielder Kellyanne Acosta got a straight red card, losing hard in the 40th minute after Bosnia’s Amar Begi challenged it from behind. Acosta returned to action after a short break, while 21-year-old Begic was furious for being ruled out of his international debut.

Jordan Morris looked sharp on several strikes in the Seattle forward’s first American appearance in more than two years, boosting his chances of getting a roster spot for the next round of World Cup qualifiers. He had torn a ligament in his left knee in February while on loan with Swansea. Berhalter said he was “pleasantly surprised” by Morris’ entire camp.

Prior to the game, US Soccer named Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic as its Men’s Player of the Year and Riccardo Pepi as its top youth player. Pulisic, 23, joined the three-time club with Landon Donovan (four), Clint Dempsey and Keller, becoming the youngest three-time winner of the award.

Per US Soccer, Acosta earned his 21st cap of 2021, marking the most appearances by a USMNT player since 1994. The Rapids Giants are the 11th player to score 21 or more appearances, but the first to do so outside the team’s residence. Years in 1993 and 1994.

It was the second time Rapids player Austin Trustee was called to coach Greg Berhalter’s USMNT camp, and the first time since January 2019, but he missed game time and is still looking to earn a first cap.

Denver Post special Brendan Plone contributed to this story

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