Bruce Arena's first match back in charge of the U.S. Men's National Team finished without any major fireworks, as the MLS-based squad recorded a 0-0 draw against Serbia in an international friendly Sunday in San Diego.
After both sides shared the ball in the early going, the U.S. began to assert itself 25 minutes into the match thanks to a springing counter attack through Darlington Nagbe (pictured above), Sacha Kljestan and Jozy Altidore. A final ball across the 6-yard box by Jermaine Jones ultimately was broken up, but the play sparked an encouraging spell of chances for Bruce Arena’s side.
Nagbe then nearly provided the breakthrough five minutes later, finding space to curl a shot toward the far post. The effort had goalkeeper Filip Manojlovic frozen in place, but sailed just beyond the upper 90 as the game remained scoreless.
Coming out of the locker rooms for the second half, Arena removed Jermaine Jones from central midfield in favor of Sebastian Lletget, Arena’s former pupil with the LA Galaxy. Lletget brought a clear spark for the U.S. and, 10 minutes into his shift, lofted a left-footed cross that found the head of Kljestan, but the ensuing header was just wide of frame in the end.
As the game became stretched late on, both the U.S. and Serbia had chances to steal a win, as goalkeeper Nick Rimando denied a promising shot off the counter -- one of the few times Rimando was truly called upon in the match -- by Serbia moments before a Chris Pontius attempt went inches wide of the post for what would have been a likely winner.
The U.S. registered 12 shots in the game compared to Serbia's eight.
Also of note was the 100th career cap earned by Altidore, the second-youngest U.S. player to reach the plateau. Fire midfielder Dax McCarty was part of the matchday roster for the U.S. but did not feature in the affair.
The U.S. resumes camp this week before facing CONCACAF foe Jamaica Friday (Feb. 3) in Chattanooga, Tenn.