Jozy Altidore claimed his 100th cap as the United States stuttered to an underwhelming 0-0 draw at home to a weak Serbia side in head coach Bruce Arena’s return.
Despite the visitors’ squad having only six senior international appearances between them before the match, they produced an accomplished display in San Diego, with Altidore failing to make much of an impression as he reached his century of caps at 27 years and 84 days old – only Landon Donovan has reached the milestone at a younger age.
Clear-cut opportunities were scarce in a first half which both sides failed to control, though USA were mightily lucky to not concede a penalty for a Chad Marshall challenge on Nikola Cirkovic.
The hosts often threatened to create chances in the second half, but their final pass regularly let them down and ultimately the loudest cheer from the crowd came as Altidore made way in the 74th minute.
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) January 29, 2017
Serbia had little difficulty holding on in the end, giving Arena a somewhat underwhelming result in the first match of his second spell in charge after replacing Jurgen Klinsmann.
All of the pre-match focus was unsurprisingly on centurion Altidore, but the hosts struggled to use his attributes to their advantage for much of the match.
The striker’s only real contribution of the first half came after 19 minutes, as he nodded down a lofted pass on the edge of the box to tee up Jermaine Jones, whose stinging drive flew just wide of the target.
Serbia were then denied penalty a few moments later, with referee Kevin Morrison only awarding a free-kick outside the area when Marshall fouled Cirkovic within the perimeter of the 18-yard box.
The home side began to liven up in attack soon after, with Darlington Nagbe particularly threatening.
The left-winger went close twice after the half-hour mark, firing agonisingly wide of the right-hand post on both occasions with similar curling efforts.
Altidore was presented with a rare chance right at the start of the second period, but his first touch was heavy and allowed goalkeeper Filip Manojlovic to come out and block his eventual effort.
That failed to usher in a period of American dominance, though, as Serbia kept their hosts at bay in comfortable fashion, with Altidore remaining a peripheral figure in attack.
The Toronto FC striker was eventually replaced by 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year Jordan Morris, with Altidore receiving a generous ovation by the 20,000 supporters in attendance.
Nick Rimando was called into rare action in stoppage time, before Chris Pontius fired just wide of the bottom-left corner in the last minute as Arena’s men were held to a deserved stalemate.
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