Cole Bassett’s late goal gives US men’s soccer team a record-breaking victory

The United States were minutes away from letting a pitch invader at Dignity Health Sports Park be the only one to score a goal in Saturday’s friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Cole Bassett saved Americans from what would have been a lackluster end to the year.

The Colorado Rapids midfielder scored the game-winning goal on his national team debut, propelling the United States to a 1-0 victory with his score in the 89th minute.

Bassett’s late score secured the 17th victory of the year, the United States’ record. The Americans tied their team record with their 12th shutout of the year, against a team that played the entire second half with 10 men after Begic Amar was given a red card in the 40th minute for having smashed Kellyn Acosta’s ankle on a tackle.

The disqualification was “the worst thing that has happened” to the United States, coach Gregg Berhalter said as she sent Bosnia and Herzegovina into a compact shell. The resulting game was boring, but Bassett, 20, pushed the ball into the net on a rebound to end the game with a flurry and make the case for future national team caps.

“I’ve dreamed of playing for the national team my whole life,” said Bassett, who was inspired by the United States’ run to the knockout stages of the 2014 World Cup. , I got really obsessed with trying to be successful here and for me to finally be here and to score at that point for my debut, that’s something special. “

Bassett’s dreamy debut as well as the return of several key veterans vying for places in the January World Cup qualifiers illustrated the team’s goals for their winter camp where the young players got wet. the feet and the veterans have tried to regain their old form.

The training session fell outside of a FIFA international match date, leaving many players unavailable for selection. The roster relied heavily on MLS players during their offseason. Two players, Jonathan Gomez, 18, and Kobi Henry, 17, made history by becoming the first players to be called up for the senior national team directly from USL Championship teams.

Gomez made an impact almost immediately after coming off the bench in the 84th minute. It was his late shot that was saved to set up Bassett’s goal on the rebound.

Berhalter acknowledged that some of the new faces may not be ready for prime time. But with the desire to expand the pool of players, the coach was pleased with how the young players held up during training.

At the other end of the list, veterans were trying to pick up the conversation for the January window. Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris got the start in his first national team appearance in two years and played 79 minutes.

US striker Jordan Morris, right, directs the ball past midfielder Cristian Roldan in the second half.

(Marcio José Sanchez / Associated Press)

Morris is 10 months away from tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while on loan with AFC Swansea City. It was his second ACL injury in four years after sustaining a left knee injury in February 2018.

The 27-year-old has proven he can recover from his injury once. In 2019, he scored 13 goals in MLS with eight assists. He was named the league’s Returning Player of the Year.

His second redemption campaign is still young. He has made three appearances for the Sounders this season. Before Bassett’s goal, Morris had the best chance in the United States as his 31st-minute diving header was saved from the line by Bosnian goalkeeper Cetkovic Nikola.

“You know Jordan has a fantastic mindset,” Berhalter said. “He’s really pushed hard this year to get to the point of being recalled, and I can’t wait to see what he can do in January. Hopefully that ends up being with the qualifying squad, but we’ll see. ”

Morris and former Galaxy striker Gyasi Zardes are two veterans who hope to be called up in January. Zardes, who played 27 minutes on the bench on Saturday, suffered a sprained knee in October that forced him to miss the national team’s World Cup qualifying games in November.

But the competition before a World Cup year will be tight. If his goal wasn’t enough to boost his CV, Bassett doubled down on his intention to break into the roster after the game.

“This coming year, you know that in the national team, I want to be in this January camp,” he said. “A lot of people would say it’s going to be quite difficult for me, but I think throughout my career I’ve always been the type to go unnoticed.”

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