Arena, Dempsey, and Pulisic Earn Highest Scores for U.S.
March 25, 2017
SAN JOSE, Calif.—The final score flattered the home side—head coach Bruce Arena was adamant about that in his post-game comments—but a 6-0 win is still a 6-0 win. So don't expect a lot of low scores as we assess how the individual players performed Friday night at Avaya Stadium.
It was a huge win for the program, a confidence-builder for more than a few players, and the sort of match that could change the trajectory of the U.S. Soccer program. Here's how we saw things.
Tim Howard: He faced four shots and stopped all of them—does it matter that his best work came after the outcome was already decided? The veteran provided a steadying presence and did everything that was asked of him. Rating: 7.5
Geoff Cameron: Stoke City's Swiss Army Knife didn't look particularly comfortable at right back against Honduras. He drew an unnecessary yellow card in the 25th minute and was victimized twice in the dying minutes of the first half when Honduras was still trying to make a game of it. He skipped the mixed zone after the game too, which doesn't impact his rating but shows questionable decision-making. Rating: 5
John Brooks: Brooks was a steadying force until he—apparently—grew dizzy and had to come out of the game in the 70th minute. Arena said that his No. 1 central defender will be traveling with the team to Panama "whether he likes it or not," so the injury does not seem serious. Rating: 7
Omar Gonzalez: Reunited, and it feels so good. The former Los Angeles Galaxy defender was reacquainted with the former Los Angeles Galaxy coach, and seemed quite comfortable with the arrangement. He could have been tidier with a pass or two but it was a solid showing for the Pachuca man, and will likely lead to another start in Panama City. Rating: 7
Jorge Villafana: Suffered from a case of the jitters early, rushing his passes and looking like his heart rate was somewhere in the 200-250 zone for the better part of the first half. Rating: 6
Seastian Lletget: Played just 18 minutes, but they were 18 good ones. His fifth-minute goal changed everything, and his energetic, eager, intelligent play on the wing was exactly what this team, and this game, needed. If not for Ever Alvarado's aggressive tackle, which resulted in Lletget coming off, the Galaxy attacker looked likely to get on the scoresheet multiple times Friday night. Rating: 7
Michael Bradley: Yes, he scored a lovely goal—a left-footed shot that went against the grain and just inside the far post—but Bradley was sloppy with his passes in the first half. Unforced errors have plagued his game of late, and while good goals tend to cover these things up, the captain's form is still worrisome. Rating: 6
Christian Pulisic: Asked to play the game's most important position, the No. 10, in the most important game the U.S. has played since Brazil, the 18-year-old breezed through a brilliant performance. He scored, he created goals, he displayed outstanding vision and technique—the sky is the limit here. Rating: 9
Darlington Nagbe: He played the facilitator rather than the focal point, which fits his personality and may just be the best fit for his game, too. Nothing showy, but nothing you would want to change either. Rating 7
Jozy Altidore: No, he didn't score a big goal—apparently some hack was insisting he do so—but Altidore combined extremely well, setting up the opening score and earning the assist on Pulisic's second-half tally that put the game to bed. A couple of sloppy touches in the first half cost him a half-point. Rating: 7.5
Clint Dempsey: Scoring a hat trick in a must-win World Cup qualifier is as good as it gets in CONCACAF. Rating 10
Alejandro Bedoya: Showed plenty of ambition and his usual strong defending in a 72-minute fill-in role. Rating: 6.5
Graham Zusi: The game was over when he came in near the hour mark. No Rating
Tim Ream: Good to see a deserving player get some minutes, but he had zero impact on the game. No Rating
Bruce Arena: The players were focused, motivated, and played with an aggression that startled and ultimately overwhelmed Honduras. Arena called this a must-win match, and then he won it in decisive fashion. Faced with a depleted squad, he made all of the right personnel decisions and got the best from his players. This is what good coaches do. He's a good coach, possibly even a great one. Rating: 10
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