Fringe Players Disappoint as Yanks Tie New Zealand
October 11, 2016
THE UNITED STATES staggered through its final friendly before the Hexagonal and walked out of RFK Stadium with a 1-1 draw against New Zealand. If the U.S. defeats Mexico next month, this game will be forgotten but if the U.S. team falls to its archrival, people will look back at tonight’s game and point to some alarming warning signs.
While many top U.S. players were released to their clubs after Friday’s listless 2-0 win over Cuba, many American players performed below their capabilities Tuesday niht. Omar Gonzalez and Jozy Altidore in particular are playing well with their respective clubs but offered very little. Michael Bradley had no chemistry with Perry Kitchen, who came into the game on the heels of being named captain of his club, Heart of Midlothian.
Jurgen Klinsmann bears some of the blame as it is curious as to what Kellyn Acosta really offers at fullback and what DeAndre Yedlin offers on the wings? Why not see what Acosta can do in the midfield where he shines with Supporters’ Shield favorites FC Dallas? The coach was too slow to make changes and sub off underperforming players.
The three clear winners against New Zealand were Julian Green, Lynden Gooch, and Sacha Kljestan. Green and Gooch look like youngsters who are ready to contribute next month. Kljestan looks like a player who can and should start against Mexico.
Other than that, it was a tough game to watch.
William Yarbrough: The Club Leon goalkeeper played the first half and while he did not concede a goal he looked nervous and shaky. Rating: 5
Michael Orozco: The Club Tijuana defender earned the start at right back and while he occasionally moved into dangerous positions, his final ball and passing were off. He had a key goal line clearance in the 87th minute. Rating: 5
Omar Gonzalez: The Pachuca central defender was shaky and did not have an easy night defending. Overall, his distribution was also lacking. Rating: 5
Matt Besler: He was playing well for most of the game but could have done better with his set piece defending on Monty Patterson’s goal. His passing out of the back was generally a positive for the team, however, and he set up Altidore with a nice chance second half with an effective run. Rating: 6
Kellyn Acosta: The FC Dallas midfielder did not look out of place playing out of position at right back. He defended well and made a very effective run on Green’s goal to draw defenders away as Green unleashed the shot. Rating: 6
Michael Bradley: The captain did not have good game and had an especially bad opening 20 minutes. He did not look comfortable in the 4-3-3 formation but came to life a bit toward the end of the game when he forced a great save in stoppage time and distributed well as the U.S. looked for a winner. But overall, he should have done much, much better. Rating: 5
Sacha Kljestan: The New York Red Bulls central midfielder was the best American player on the field. He was involved in setting up most of the U.S.’ most dangerous chances. The California native also tracked back and helped in defense. He was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dull team performance. Rating: 7
Perry Kitchen: It was a disappointing return to RFK Stadium for Perry Kitchen who looked out of synch with Bradley and Kljestan. He did not offer that much. Rating: 4.5
DeAndre Yedlin: The Newcastle United right back earned the start on the wings and did not connect well in the attack. It is hard to blame him as he has rarely played well in the role but overall his speed only occasionally bothered New Zealand. Eventually he shifted back to defense, where he looked more comfortable. Rating: 4.5
Jozy Altidore: The Toronto FC player had a poor outing but still managed to help set up Green’s goal. Overall, he lacked hustle and did not make any real dangerous runs. When he did receive the ball, his first touch let him down numerous times. By the 70th minute, he looked gassed. Rating: 4
Julian Green: For the second straight game, Green was the difference-maker for the United States. He scored goal the only goal for the U.S.—aided by horrible goalkeeping—but it was a very nice run and overall he was a struggle for New Zealand to contain. Rating: 7
David Bingham: The San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper was let down by his defense on Patterson’s equalizer but the goalkeeper was beaten between the legs on the shot. Rating: 4.5
Lynden Gooch: The Sunderland midfielder came into the game in the 59th minute and showed very well in his international debut. His crosses were dangerous and he did his part to give the U.S. a chance to win toward the end. Rating: 7
Danny Williams: The Reading FC mainstay replaced Kitchen in the second half and was an upgrade. While sitting deep, he still showed solid ability to get forward and in the 89th minute he made a nice run and forced a great save with a shot from distance. Rating: 6.5
Juan Agudelo: The New England Revolution forward replaced Green late and while he showed a nice first touch, he did not see nearly enough of the ball—which is too bad given his fine run with the Revolution. No Rating
Terrence Boyd: he replaced Altidore in the 88th minute and after missing two years with a horrible knee injury, it was great to see him back after the work he put in during rehab. He’s still far from being a regular contributor but this was a nice gesture by Klimsmann to give him a cap. No Rating
Jurgen Klinsmann: His decision to use a 4-3-3 was very puzzling and seemed unnecessary as Yedlin could have played at right back in place of Orozco (with Green and Altidore up top). It just did not put the three-man midfield of Kljestan-Bradley-Kitchen in a good place to succeed as only Kljestan looked comfortable. The 4-3-3 also really works best when a team has fullbacks that can press into the attack and that is not the strength of Acosta (who is really a midfielder) or Orozco. Klinsmann was also too slow to replace Altidore who was not offer much early into the second half and probably should have been replaced at the hour mark. Rating: 4.5
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