John Brooks Stands Tall, Scores a Massive 9.5 Rating
June 11, 2016
PHILADELPHIA—With its back against the wall, the United States men's national team defeated Paraguay 1-0 in a gutsy and hard-fought effort after being reduced to 10 players for the final 40 minutes. As a result, the U.S. team booked a place in the Copa America Centenario quarterfinals.
Rating the individual performances was particularly tricky Saturday night. In the first half, Paraguay had the better of play but the U.S. held the edge thanks to a great individual effort from Gyasi Zardes who assisted to Clint Dempsey’s 27th-minute goal.
In the second half, the U.S. needed to play organized defense for 40 minutes after DeAndre Yedlin was sent off. While the home team saw little possession, the team’s defense was admirable and Brad Guzan came up big whenever Paraguay threatened.
The bottom line is that most of the Yanks should hold their heads high for the collective defense they displayed. Aside from the win, the story of the night was the performance of John Brooks, who had a game for the ages. He was frequently tested and he was as close to perfect as you can get.
Brad Guzan: The Chicago native answered all challenges and some of them were dramatic. His saves on Dario Lezcano in the 19th and 45th minutes where high quality. His two saves in quick succession in the 82nd minute on Jorge Benitez and Miguel Almiron were absolute game-changers. Rating: 8
DeAndre Yedlin: After a decent first half, Yedlin’s second half was a nightmare as he earned two quick yellow cards to force the U.S. to play down a man for 40 minutes. The first yellow was harsh but the second was inexcusable from Yedlin, who should have been smarter. Instead he forced his team into a horrible position. Rating: 3.5
Geoff Cameron: The Stoke City man was very solid. Like everyone else, he rose to the occasion when the Americans were down to 10 players and defended well. His partnership with Brooks continues to blossom. Rating: 6.5
John Brooks: An absolutely incredible performance from Brooks, who made one of the best defensive plays you will ever see in the 10th minute when he ran back and halted a Paraguay three-on-one break. But that was just one of many great moments. In the 33rd minute he came back again and denied another good chance. He won aerial dual after dual. This was one of the best performances I have ever seen from an American central defender. Rating: 9.5
Fabian Johnson: It was not a great outing for Johnson who struggled to connect with teammates moving forward and made some defensive mistakes that were nearly costly—like his ill-timed gamble that conceded a very dangerous counter attack in the 10th minute. Rating: 5.5
Alejandro Bedoya: It was a good outing for Bedoya who played a smart game. He made few turnovers and avoided costly mistakes. When the U.S. was playing one man down, Bedoya covered a lot of ground to make important defensive plays. Rating: 7
Michael Bradley: The captain played a role in the build-up on the game's goal. His possession was mixed in the first half but he was an important leader in the second half. Rating: 6
Jermaine Jones: It was an incredibly scrappy performance from Jones who frustrated Paraguay and made himself an intimidating presence in the midfield. His combination play with Bradley was decent at times and his work rate at the age of 34 is beyond impressive. Rating: 6.5
Bobby Wood: After a mostly invisible first half, Wood became the focal point of the attack. He almost lost his cool and picked up a yellow card but he helped give the Yanks some semblance of an attack. He should have registered an assist in the 63rd but Gyasi Zardes blew the easy finish. Rating: 6
Clint Dempsey: The veteran played well in the first half and once again was in the right place at the right time to give his team a 1-0 lead. He often came back into the midfield to help make plays. He was forced out of the game early in the first half but not before putting his stamp on the match. Rating: 6.5
Gyasi Zardes: The Los Angeles Galaxy attacker played to his strengths and used his hustle to make a difference. On the goal, he not only assisted but forced the turnover and made a nice move in the box. He had a rough moment in the 63rd minute, however, when he couldn’t manage a dangerous shot on a golden 1v1 on the keeper. His speed and stamina was important when down a man. Rating: 6.5
Michael Orozco: It was difficult situation for the Club Tijuana man to come on and play right back after Yedlin was sent off. Aside from a yellow card, he did his job defensively. Moving forward, he didn’t really connect and had a bad cross on a good counterattack but overall he was a calming presence. Rating: 6
Graham Zusi: Replacing Bedoya, Zusi put in a decent shift tracking back defensively and connecting on a few of the rare attacks the U.S. had in the second half. Rating: 5.5
Kyle Beckerman: Replacing Bobby Wood late, Beckerman helped the U.S. close out the win. Rating: NR
Jurgen Klinsmann: Faced with elimination and with questions about his job security a hot topic of discussion, Klinsmann had his team playing hard and with purpose. The U.S. did not play great soccer but Klinsmann deserves credit for building a steady backline (despite Yedlin's red card) that can give the U.S. a big edge in any game. Rating: 6.5