Jones, Bradley, Altidore and Zusi Disappoint in Qualifier
March 28, 2017
BRUCE ARENA'S MEN earned a valuable point against Panama in a 1-1 draw Tuesday night. Overall, it was a very ugly game but the result gave the U.S. team four points from this international break and it greatly improved the Yanks' World Cup standing.
Here's how the individual players performed.
The Starting Lineup
Tim Howard: The veteran was needed in front of a shaky backline. His best moment was a big save in the 33rd minute after Jermaine Jones and Graham Zusi were burned badly. He also came up huge again in the 58th minute on a low shot from close range. Rating: 6.5
Graham Zusi: Starting in place of Geoff Cameron (whose injury was only revealed shortly before kickoff), the Sporting Kansas City midfielder once again showed he is not a right back. Yes, he is the fifth-string right back behind DeAndre Yedlin, Timothy Chandler, Eric Lichaj, and Cameron—maybe Michael Orozco too—but Zusi was beaten badly all game by Panama and it seemed to throw off the shape of the midfield and backline as a result. Rating: 3.5
Omar Gonzalez: The Pachuca central defender was caught flat-footed a few times but made some nice aerial clearances. His distribution was lacking as he often relied on long balls instead of playing the ball into possession. Rating: 5
Tim Ream: The Fulham backstop had a rough first half and was partially at fault on the throw-in debacle that led to Panama’s equalizing goal. But in the second half he improved quite a bit and made some impressive defensive plays to break up Panama’s opportunities. Rating: 5.5
Jorge Villafana: The Santos Laguna left back continued to impress, building off Friday’s solid effort with another positive performance. He was one of the better American players on the day and was usually in good defensive positions. Rating: 6
Darlington Nagbe: The Portland Timbers midfielder looked out of place in this game. As usual, he wanted to play a clean possession game but the physicality and chippy style of Panama adversely affected him. His off-the0ball movement was also lacking. Eventually he was taken out in the 69th minue. Rating: 4.5
Michael Bradley: The captain struggled to find any rhythm once again—no huge surprise since his central midfield partner was Jermaine Jones and that pairing continued to struggle. Defensively he was helpful but he made too many mistakes with the ball trying to get it forward into the attack. Rating: 4.5
Jermaine Jones: After serving a suspension against Honduras, Jones returned to the starting XI and had a subpar game. He wasn’t effective either offensively or defensively. Rating: 4
Christian Pulisic: The teenager was once again the bright spot for the U.S. His assist on Dempsey’s opening goal was a work of beauty, and he made two quality defenders look bad in the process. He was always looking to make things happen and Panama clearly made it a priority to try to contain him. But lost in his offensive skill were some very nice defensive plays to win balls and break up plays. Rating: 7
Clint Dempsey: The Texan scored the game’s opening goal after being set up by Pulisic with a beautiful pass. Dempsey worked hard on only three days of rest after missing most of the past six months with a heart condition. Rating: 6
Jozy Altidore: The Toronto FC forward was largely invisible and was credited with only 14 touches before coming out in the 83rd minute. Part of that was on the midfield not finding him but Altidore also did not move particularly well to get into good position. Rating: 4.5
Alejandro Bedoya: The Philadelphia Union mainstay replaced Nagbe and it was a better fit for a physical game like this. Bedoya was a modest improvement but still an improvement. Rating: 5.5
Kellyn Acosta: The FC Dallas midfielder did not have time to do much but it is worth mentioning he did not have the “deer in the headlights” look many young players have in games like these either. His few touches were promising Rating: No rating
Paul Arriola: Like Acosta, Arriola did not do enough to earn a rating but in a few brief moments he looked very eager to take on Panama’s defenders and make plays. Rating: No rating
Bruce Arena: After inheriting a team without any confidence that was riddled with injuries, Arena made it clear that this international break was all about getting results. It was never going to be pretty but he got it done. A big reason is that the team had the confidence to grind out a difficult result and that confidence was lacking before he arrived. Of course, the team will need to play much, much better moving forward but for tonight it was enough. The U.S. is likely going to Russia and this draw will go a long way toward that. Rating: 6
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