The U.S. Coach and Captain Earn the Lowest Ratings
November 12, 2016
COLUMBUS, Ohio—The United States fell to Mexico 2-1 in a rough start to open the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying. It is a tough game to rate the players as the 3-4-3 formation seemed to rattle the bulk of the team. That said, the Americans played better over the final 65 minutes and would have earned a result if not for a blown coverage on a late set piece.
Here's how the individual players performed.
The Starting Lineup
Tim Howard: Before he was forced out of the game with a first-half injury, Howard looked to be caught too far off his line (slightly) on Mexico’s opener. Rating: 5
Omar Gonzalez: The Pachuca central defender was not good with his distribution and seemed to boot balls aimlessly into the midfield. On the offensive side, he contributed several headers and should have done more with one late in the second half that was a very good scoring opportunity. Still, defensively he held up in the end. Rating: 5.5
John Brooks: For 89 minutes the Hertha Berlin central defender was the best American defender by far—but Jurgen Klinsmann said Brooks probably lost his man, Rafa Marquez, on the decisive play of the match. That being said, Brooks is still a player to build the defense around and his distribution was very good. Rating: 6
Matt Besler: The Sporting Kansas City veteran earned the start in the three-man backline before switching to left back in the 4-4-2. Overall, he held up defensively although he was hanging on for dear life in a few 1v1 battles. Rating: 5.5
Fabian Johnson: The Borussia Monchengladbach attacker earned the start at left wingback before moving to right-mid after the tactical switch around the 25th minute. Johnson was effective getting into dangerous positions but his final ball let him down on multiple occasions. He had the defensive play of the game, however, on a goal line clearance to keep the U.S. in the game. Rating: 6
Timothy Chandler: Earning a start at right wingback, Mexico pressed hard down Chandler’s side and the Eintracht Frankfurt mainstay struggled to get involved. He had a pair of dangerous crosses in the second half but overall he was on his heels. Rating: 5
Jermaine Jones: Still in the process of coming back from a long-term injury, Jones went a full 90 against Mexico. His rough and edgy play helped the U.S. on occasion but Jones was not able to work in cohesion with Michael Bradley or the rest of the midfield to provide service to the attack. Rating: 4.5
Michael Bradley: The captain had a very bad first 25 minutes in the strange 3-4-3 formation. While he settled down a little bit and had nice moments in the second half, it was yet another poor performance for the man with the armband. Rating: 4
Christian Pulisic: The teenage sensation got his chance to start in a big game for the U.S., and was given a huge responsibility to roam and make plays happen. While still a little green, he was effective and will only get better. Rating: 6.5
Jozy Altidore: The Toronto FC forward was maybe the best American player over the entire 90 minutes. His hold-up play proved effective in the second half, he drew fouls, and he set up the equalizing goal. Rating: 7
Bobby Wood: Despite little service from the midfield, Wood made the most out of it by scoring a very nice goal. He made runs and was in dangerous positions but was let down by his teammates' inability to get him the ball. Rating: 6.5
Brad Guzan: It was not an easy task to replace Howard midway through the first half. He was not at fault for Marquez' late goal but could have dominated the box a little better. Still, he was satisfactory despite not playing much at Middlesbrough. Rating: 5.5
DeAndre Yedlin: The Seattle native has fallen behind Timothy Chandler in the pecking order at right back but he got into the game for the final 20 minutes. Overall he was decent but did not stand out. Rating: 5.5
Michael Orozco: The Tijuana defender replaced Matt Besler at left back late and did not play enough to earn a rating: Rating: none
Jurgen Klinsmann: Sending his team out onto the field in a 3-4-3 was probably the most baffling tactical decision of Klinsmann’s coaching career—and it backfired on a very big stage. The formation did not suit the players well at all and after Howard’s injury, Klinsmann did not have the substitutes left to adjust to the 4-4-2 in the second half. Mexico quickly recognized the Americans' shortcomings due to the formation and exploited them. Yes, Klinsmann was willing to adjust to the 4-4-2 and give Pulisic a lot of responsibility, but the opening 25 minutes was mostly on the coach here. The over-reliance on the Jones-Bradley central midfield pairing was also apparent, and it simply did not work. If the U.S. comes up empty in San Jose, Klinsmann is going to have a long winter. Rating: 3.5
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