Bruce Arena’s return to USMNT ends in goalless draw with Serbia

Bruce Arenas second stint as coach of the US national team began with the same result as his first, a 0-0 draw

Bruce Arenas second stint as coach of the US national team began with the same result as his first, a 0-0 draw.

The US had few scoring chances in Sundays match against a young Serbia team, the first game for the Americans since Jrgen Klinsmann was fired after a pair of losses in World Cup qualifiers in November and replaced by Arena.

The best scoring chances were just before the final whistle. US goalkeeper Nick Rimando made a diving parry to his right to stop Lazar Jovanovics angled 10-yard shot in 89th. The US countered, and Chris Pontius slid a shot just wide after Juan Agudelo failed to get an attempt off.

With Brad Guzan among the players not available and Tim Howard recovering from leg surgery, the 37-year-old Rimando started in goal. Arena used a 4-2-3-1 formation that had Graham Zusi at right back with Steve Birnbaum and Chad Marshall in the center and Greg Garza at left back. Captain Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones were in defensive midfield, with Sacha Kljestan in an advance midfield role, Alejandro Bedoya on the right flank and Darlington Nagbe on the left flank. Jozy Altidore was the lone forward.

Usually a midfielder, Zusi made his first international start at right back. Marshall had not played for the US since January 2010 against Honduras, and Rimando since April 2015 versus Mexico. Nagbe had not started since 25 June last year against Colombia at the Copa America.

Serbia, missing stars such as defenders Branislav Ivanovic, Aleksandar Kolarov and Nemanja Matic, opened with a lineup that had totaled just five previous international appearances.

Altidore reached a landmark at the start of the game, becoming the second-youngest player to make 100 international appearances for the US mens team. Altidore has 37 goals for the US. He is the 17th American male to reach 100 appearances and at 27 years, 84 days, trails only Landon Donovan at 26 years, 96 days.

Arena led the team to a 71-30-29 record from 1998-2006, becoming the coach with the most wins in US national team history and earning election to the National Soccer Hall of Fame. He opened with a draw against Australia and was fired following the teams first-round elimination at the 2006 World Cup. He then led the LA Galaxy to three Major League Soccer titles.

The US play Jamaica on Friday in an exhibition at Chatanooga, Tennessee, and resume their World Cup qualifying campaign in March. After losing their first two games in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, the US host Honduras on 24 March at home, and play four days later in Panama.

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