Yes, winning the Gold Cup is everybody's highest priority. But winning a seat on the plane to Brazil is a close second, which is why these U.S. player ratings are particularly relevant despite the 5-1 scoreline.
July 21, 2013
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Nick Rimando: 7.5
The diminutive Real Salt Lake backstop showed once again that he is a deserving No. 3 in the United States goalkeeping depth chart. He made several sterling saves, and you almost expected him to stop Rodolfo Zelaya's first-half penalty kick. The Panenka went past him, but that hardly counts as a demerit. A very strong match.
Michael Parkhurst: 6
Parkhurst's job on this Gold Cup squad is to stay home, protect the American half of the pitch, and only pinch forward when the risks are low and the rewards are high. He did that, and did it well. Steve Cherundolo and Timothy Chandler have nothing to worry about from Parkhurst in terms of their standing on the national team, but this was a solid showing.
Clarence Goodson: 6.5
With his arms held wide like a Wallenda on a wire, Goodson narrowly escaped a penalty call and a possible red card. And then, a few minutes later, he slammed a cross into the back of the El Salvador goal. He never inspires confidence, but he got it done on Sunday.
Matt Besler: 7
If Goodson is a white-knuckle defender, Besler is the opposite. He kept a calm, steady rhythm to his game and will be a welcome contributor in the semifinal match on Wednesday.
DaMarcus Beasley: 6
The captain did not have a particularly active match. He pushed forward down the left flank early in the contest, but then seemed to pull back as the game progressed. Fatigue? Or was he just smart to let others—Joe Corona and Jose Torres and Mix Diskerud—get all of the offensive zone glory? Better than average, worse than great.
Mix Diskerud: 6.5
He missed an easy chance early in the first half, but he never got frustrated or stopped working. In fact, the Norwegian-American showed more bite to his game than he had ever shown before. Diskerud's late goal, which put the U.S. ahead by four goals, didn't change the course of the match, but may have changed the midfielder's mood. He had it coming, and he got it.
Jose Torres: 6.5
Tireless effort, dangerous left-footed crosses, good chemistry with his teammates, and not a bad touch that I can remember. Torres helped his U.S. national team cause considerably against El Salvador.
Kyle Beckerman: 7
The Real Salt Lake captain was too slow on the ball during one excruciating sequence early on the match, and had his pocket picked. But to his credit, Beckerman stepped it up and gave a very strong showing. His long-range shots caused Portillo trouble on several occasions, and his defensive-zone work was impeccable. Expect to see Beckerman starting the next two Gold Cup matches.
Joe Corona: 7.5
His goal in the 29th minute showcased all that makes Corona a special player. He combined well with his fellow attackers. He found good space. He created even more space with a deft deke. And then he calmly slotted the ball into the corner of the goal. If Corona can maintain this level of play, he will not only make the 2014 World Cup squad, he could see significant playing time.
Landon Donovan: 8.5
How many Man of the Match performances has Donovan delivered during his time with the national team? Add this one to the list. He ran hard on both sides of the ball, he created goals with his vision and technique, and he even scored a classic LD tally when he dribbled around a sprawled out El Salvador keeper and passed the ball into the back of the net. See you in Brazil, Landon.
Chris Wondolowski: 5
Five goals against Belize and Cuba. None against Costa Rica and El Salvador. If Wondo isn't careful, that's going to be all anybody remembers about his 2013 Gold Cup. He needs to put a few more away, straightaway.
Brek Shea: 6
The late goal against Costa Rica must have done wonders for Shea, because he looked fearless out there on Sunday. He may never have a brilliant first touch, but he is big and fast and, when playing with confidence, a very determined winger. Encouraging sign: He had a couple of quality crosses in the second half.
Eddie Johnson: 8
You can't really ask for more than Johnson gave in his half-hour effort. A quick goal. A lovely assist. And lots and lots of dangerous play. A dominant performance.
Michael Orozco Fiscal: 5
The defending portion of Sunday's mach was mostly complete when Fiscal came on. He did no harm, but was not really forced to do much.
Jurgen Klinsmann: 8.5
When you sub in a striker with a tragic hairdo and he scores on his first touch less than 30 seconds later, you're officially on a roll. Klinsmann's team is playing with belief and aggression. The next two matches will be far tougher, but this one was a keeper for the coach.
OK, what do we have wrong? Are we too harsh on Wondo—again? Sound off using ASN’s player ratings and tell us more in the comments below.