Veteran goalkeeper Howard reaffirmed his decision to return to the U.S. fold in July. He eventually returned to the squad in time for the September friendlies against Peru and Brazil, but Brad Guzan retained the number one shirt for the CONCACAF Cup playoff against Mexico. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann subsequently announced he planned to split playing time between his two goalkeepers moving forward.
Getty ImagesPatrick Smith
Americans pass first WCQ test in Trinidad and Tobago
After brushing aside St. Vincent and the Grenadines to open World Cup qualifying, the Americans traveled to Port of Spain in search of a firm foothold in their semifinal group. The professional performance at Hasely Crawford Stadium yielded a 0-0 draw in November. It did not match some of the previous exploits in the Caribbean, but it provided a firm foundation ahead of the home-and-home affairs against Guatemala in March.
Getty ImagesAshley Allen
Fabian Johnson sent home before Costa Rica friendly
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann revealed some rather surprising news in the buildup to the friendly at Red Bull Arena in October: He sent Johnson back to Germany after Johnson complained of tightness and exited during stoppage time in the CONCACAF Cup final defeat to Mexico. The details surrounding were murky -- Johnson eventually played for Borussia Mönchengladbach the following weekend, but Gladbach noted he returned to Germany with a knock -- but the underlying message about the need for complete commitment was loud and clear.
Getty ImagesVictor Decolongon
Michael Bradley wins 100th cap against Honduras
Bradley stamped his mark on this year with his performances against Denmark, Germany and Netherlands, but he waited until July to finally hit his century in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match against Honduras. The landmark arrived an opportune time for the reliable midfielder: Bradley assumed the captaincy from Clint Dempsey prior to the tournament. U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati presented Bradley with this jersey prior to the galling 4-1 defeat to Brazil in September.
Boston Globe via Getty ImagesBoston Globe
Jordan Morris scores the winner against Mexico
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann called Morris into his squad for the domestic-based friendly against Mexico in April. Morris repaid Klinsmann’s faith by bursting through to score his first international goal in the 2-0 victory. The goal marked the start of a great year for Morris (he eventually won the NCAA title with Stanford this fall) and sparked plenty of interest in his professional future.
Getty ImagesChris Covatta
U.S. Soccer confirms Copa América Centenario hosting rights
Tales of corruption and intrigue roiled FIFA and threatened the future of the Copa América Centenario for most of this year. The raft of indictment-related departures from CONCACAF and CONMEBOL complicated matters, but U.S. Soccer finally reached a deal with the two confederations to stage the tournament next year. It provided an important boost, particularly with the Confederations Cup now off the table.
AFP/Getty ImagesMARTIN BERNETTI
Bobby Wood pops up in the dying moments to stun the Netherlands
There were few signs of an American revival on tap when Memphis Depay staked the Dutch to a 3-1 lead after 53 minutes. Slowly but surely, the U.S. found a way to take advantage of the hosts’ defensive uncertainty. Michael Bradley served as the protagonist in the comeback by playing a part in all three goals, including a barnstorming run to prompt Wood’s stoppage-time winner in the famous 4-3 victory. Strangely enough, it only proved the first of three massive goals by Wood during the dying embers of a dame in 2015.
AFP/Getty ImagesKOEN VAN WEEL
Jamaica relies on shape and structure to oust U.S. at Gold Cup
Everything set up nicely for the United States and Mexico to meet in the Gold Cup final as the semifinals beckoned. Jamaica, however, harbored other plans. Winfried Schäfer’s side stormed out to a two-goal lead before halftime through their endeavor and some American imprecision. Michael Bradley equalized after halftime to arrange a grandstand finish, but he could not spur his side to a second goal. The defeat ended the American hopes of a guaranteed berth in the Confederations Cup and paved the way for a further rebuke in the third-place game against Panama a few days later.
Matthew Ashton - AMA
Bobby Wood strikes again to defeat World Cup winners Germany
It only took Wood one swing through Netherlands and Germany to confirm his place in American lore. For the second time in as many games, Wood popped up to round off a move in the final minutes of a match. His ruthlessness in the final third lifted the Americans to a 2-1 victory and finished off this European road trip in style.
Getty ImagesBoris Streubel
Mexico dashes Confederations Cup dreams in CONCACAF Cup playoff
This date at the Rose Bowl in October offered the Americans a chance to atone for their Gold Cup missteps. They huffed and puffed as they soaked up pressure for long stretches, but they labored in possession and ultimately suffered a painful 3-2 defeat in extra time. The loss reinforced Mexico’s status as the top side in the region and left the Americans to lament how they came up short in the most important matches this year.