Pulisic, Nagbe, Yedlin Score Highest Grades from ASN
June 08, 2017
AFTER A SPORADICALLY SHAKY opening 45 minutes, the United States played an outstanding second half to defeat Trinidad & Tobago 2-0, securing an absolutely crucial win before heading to the Azteca Stadium on Sunday.
Christian Pulisic supplied both goals for the U.S. and the Pennyslvania-born teenager is now the focal point for just about every national team game. But he didn’t win the game for the United States on his own—several others gave quality performances.
The U.S. controlled the pace of the game throughout but there were periods where the urgency seemed non-existent. A John Brooks error nearly gifted Kenwyne Jones the opening goal and defending crosses was always dicey for the Yanks.
In the 53rd minute the U.S. took a deserved lead. The opening goal was just a beautiful team effort that started with Michael Bradley forcing a turnover. Darlington Nagbe and Clint Dempsey helped in the build-up before DeAndre Yedlin’s low cross found a sliding Pulisic in front of goal. Just 10 minutes later the U.S. team doubled the lead when Altidore’s pass sent Pulisic past the defense and set up for another score.
Here are my player ratings.
Tim Howard: Playing in his home stadium, Howard came up whenever he was called upon. In the first half he had to make some tricky saves before being bailed out by the post on a Jones shot. Overall, he was steady and confident. Rating: 6.5
Jorge Villafana: The Santos Laguna left back eagerly pushed the ball forward. Despite a few turnovers he was effective and comfortable in the attack. Defensively he had some lapses and looked tired at the end: Rating: 5.5
John Brooks: The $22 million man is still frustrating. At times he looks like a world-class player and other times he looks totally unreliable. Tonight he was smooth on the ball but had a defensive lapse that should have gifted Jones the opener. He was also uncomfortable on crosses, which should not be the case for a six-foout-four central defender. Rating: 4.5
Geoff Cameron: As with Brooks, it wasn’t the best night for Cameron. He didn’t make any major mistakes but also struggled with crosses. He was lucky not to get yellow card which would force him to miss the Mexico game. Rating: 5
DeAndre Yedlin: The newly promoted Newcastle United right back had a strong game and used his speed very effectively. He has improved so much on both sides of the ball, and his assist on Pulisic's opening goal was a real gem. Rating: 7
Michael Bradley: The captain wasn’t flashy but that is not always bad thing in a defensive midfield role. He was a big help to a central defense tandem that was not at its best and he forced many turnovers—including one that led to the opening goal. He quietly did what was needed. Rating: 6.5
Fabian Johnson: After a poor performance in the tune-up friendly against Venezuela, Johnson was only slightly better against Trinidad & Tobago. His defensive instincts helped to break-up some chances and he sprung some attacks but overall he was not nearly as involved as he could or should be. Rating: 5
Darlington Nagbe: After Pulisic, Nagbe was the best player on the field. He looked very comfortable in the open field and showed the sort of aggression that could take his game to a higher level. His game is often too passive but tonight he was constantly looking to break the game open. He had Trinidad & Tobago’s defenders on their heels. Rating: 7.5
Christian Pulisic: The teenager was again the Yanks' best player and the clear man of the match. When the U.S. needed someone to make a great run, he was there. His teammates served him up well and Pulisic showed great composure in finishing from close range. Rating: 8
Clint Dempsey: Aside from a nice pass in the build-up to the first goal, it was a rough night for Dempsey who was slow and inactive. His display of anger with being substituted at the one-hour mark was disappointing for a player of his stature who needs to be a leader. Rating: 4.5
Jozy Altidore: He did not score but he played with a lot of energy. The U.S. started slowly but Altidore’s shot attempts, while saved, brought life into the game. His assist on Pulisic’s second goal was high quality. He needs to finish better but he had very positive impact on the game. Rating: 6.5
Kellyn Acosta: The FC Dallas midfielder continues to develop and looks like he belongs. He forced a save on a nice free kick late in the game and combined well in the midfield. Rating: 5.5
Alejandro Bedoya: The Philadelphia Union midfielder replaced Johnson in the 74th minute and helped see the game out in a quiet 16 minutes. Rating: 5
Bobby Wood: Aside from a few nice touches, Wood did not have much to do as the game was already won after he came in. Rating: NR
Bruce Arena: The formation was right and the players were all playing their best positions. While it's true that the players lacked urgency and intensity at times, the Yanks did not panic in the second half when the game was still scoreless. Tough decisions remain ahead for Arena as key veterans are underperforming but right now it is all about results and so far he is getting what is needed. Rating: 6.5