But the U.S. was beginning to create chances even before the half, and Klinsmann told his players in the locker room that the game was still very much up for grabs.
“Jurgen has always said, even if we go down a goal, keep responding,” Altidore said.
Respond they did. Resoundingly.
Altidore set up Johnson’s goal in the 55th minute, controlling a long chip shot from Michael Bradley with a slight touch of his left foot. The ball fell right at Johnson’s feet and, with goalkeeper Asmir Begovic out of the net to block Altidore, Johnson neatly tapped the ball into the empty net to cut Bosnia’s lead to 2-1.
Four minutes later, Altidore evened things up.
Fabian Johnson slalomed through a crowd of Bosnian defenders, chipping the ball to Altidore. He took one shot and buried a left-footed shot from 16 yards that the diving Begovic had no chance to stop. It was Altidore’s fifth goal in as many games, breaking the previous mark he’d shared with Eddie Johnson, William Looby, Eric Wynalda, Brian McBride and Landon Donovan.
He wasn’t finished, either.
The Americans were awarded a free kick in the 84th minute when Edgar Castillo was tripped by Miroslav Stevanovic. Altidore lifted the ball over the wall of Bosnians and into the back of the net. Two minutes later, he finished off his second career hat trick with a shot from about 8 yards out.
“We see a Jozy that is enjoying himself,” Klinsmann said of his striker, who has seven goals in the last five games. “He went through a lot of maturing elements over last couple of years ... But he really understands now how to zoom in when it counts. He makes everyone around him a better player. It’s real enjoyable, it’s really fun.”