Missed Opportunities, an Old Experiment, a Late Goal
February 06, 2016
A LATE JOZY ALTIDORE GOAL allowed the United States to beat Canada, 1-0, on Friday and go a “perfect” two-for-two in January camp.
In reality, while the Americans dominated the run of play, the performance as a whole was mixed, with Jurgen Klinsmann’s side let down by sloppy passes and poor execution. Here are ASN’s U.S.-Canada player ratings.
David Bingham: The San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper, who earned his first cap, did not have to make any terribly difficult saves but commanded his box well in preserving a shutout. His distribution could have been a bit better but was nothing glaring. Rating: 5
Kellyn Acosta: Normally a central midfielder, Acosta made his second straight start at left back for the senior side. He did not make many mistakes defensively but was uneasy getting forward from that position. Was not a huge factor before being replaced by Brandon Vincent at halftime. Rating: 5
Matt Besler: It was a tough assignment for Besler—the only American defender playing in his natural position. But the Sporting Kansas City man led the unfamiliar backline well, and his positioning and passing out of the back were solid all night. Rating: 7
Jermaine Jones: Jones’ start in central defense was a bit of a head-scratcher after earlier experiments at the position had proved unsuccessful. There was no difference in that regard this time around, as Jones committed too many dangerous turnovers and was frequently caught out of position. Only Canada’s ineptitude let him off the hook. Rating: 4
Steve Birnbaum: The D.C. United defender may normally be a center back, but he didn’t look out of place after earning a starting nod at right back Friday. Birnbaum was not always dangerous getting forward, but he occasionally found his way into the final third to send in a cross. Dominant as always in the air, he had one of the best chances of the game in the 26th minute when his header was saved by Canada goalie Max Crepeau. Rating: 6
Gyasi Zardes: A midfield deployment led to a mixed outing from the Los Angeles Galaxy attacker, whose touch let him down too many times but who still was part of dangerous chances. In the 17th minute he set up Altidore for a shot that hit the post, and he did well four minutes later to get into position for a shot that forced another Crepeau save. Rating: 5.5
Michael Bradley: The captain was his usual steady self. The Americans were the better team on the night, particularly in midfield, and Bradley was a key reason why. His passing was accurate, most notably on the game-winning sequence, and he also helped the U.S. team win the ball back defensively. Rating: 7
Mix Diskerud: The start was an important opportunity for Diskerud to build a case to earn consistent minutes with the team, and he didn’t exactly grab it by the lapels. His best moment came early in the second half when he set up a terrific header for Altidore, but overall he was far too quiet before coming out in the 77th. Rating. 5
Lee Nguyen: The New England Revolution playmaker got the start on the outside of the midfield but found himself often pinching in, as he did against Iceland. Nguyen was again one of the most comfortable American players with the ball at his feet; one can’t help but think that if more of his teammates had his touch, this team would be more effective in the final third. Rating: 6.5
Jordan Morris: Morris, still awaiting the start of his professional career, wasn’t consistently dangerous Friday but did have some strong moments. He set up Zardes beautifully in the 21st minute, for example, and had a close chip toward the end of the first half as well. But Morris’s touch let him down a few times, and his Achilles’ heel of having no left foot was also noticeable. Rating: 5
Jozy Altidore: The Toronto FC forward made several nice runs and nearly scored in the 17th minute when he had a shot hit the post. Alidore, who appeared not only more dangerous but more mobile than he has in the past, thoroughly deserved the game-winner. Rating: 7
Brandon Vincent: Vincent, who had not played an official match since winning the NCAA title with Stanford in December, gradually found his way into the game after replacing Acosta at the half. The fact that he was a natural left back was apparent, and he did well to press into the attack, too, delivering a low, hard shot on goal in the 71st minute. Rating: 6
Jerome Kiesewetter: The Stuttgart II attacker was a spark plug when he came into the game in the 61st minute, eager to try to make plays and create chances. In an otherwise dull game, Kiesewetter was a breath of fresh air; his U-23 Olympic qualifying tournament last fall was no fluke. Rating: 6.5
Darlington Nagbe: Nagbe looked very strong when he came on, combining well with Vincent and Bradley. The Portland midfielder won a dangerous free kick in the 77th minute and helped give the U.S. the momentum late. Rating: 6.5
Will Trapp: Came on late with little impact. No Rating
Ethan Finlay: Came on in the 87th minute and only had a brief moment to make a difference—and took full advantage. After receiving a beautiful ball from Bradley, Finlay hit a similarly beautiful cross to Altidore to deliver the win. Rating: 6
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