Pulisic and Kljestan Earn Top Marks Again for Yanks
September 06, 2016
THE UNITED STATES men's national team cruised to a comfortable 4-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago to win Group C and set up a Hexagonal opener at home against Mexico. The U.S. put on a fun performance as a lot of players raised their games and made cases to be part of the team heading into 2017.
Christian Pulisic was the big winner on the night with a dominant performance, proving dangerous every time he touched the ball. Jozy Altidore was also a standout performer as it looks like his impressive play for Toronto FC is carrying over to the international stage.
Finally, the player who clearly helped his case the most this game (and on Friday) was Sacha Kljestan who only made this roster after an injury to John Brooks but now leaves as a potential starter against Mexico in November. The New York Red Bull midfielder scored a goal and stood out with his noticeably strong chemistry with Pulisic. The pair controlled the midfield.
Tim Howard: The veteran goalkeeper made a return to the starting lineup after backing up Brad Guzan on Friday. Most of his saves were routine. Rating: 5.5
Steve Birnbaum: The D.C. United stalwart had a quiet night, which is good for a defender. His passing out of the back was decent. Rating: 5.5
Geoff Cameron: The Stoke City man was not tested much defensively. One of his better moments came in the 32nd minute with an outstanding throw-in that started a dangerous counter attack. Rating: 6
Omar Gonzalez: The Pachuca central defender won his aerial duals as expected but did not have much hard work to do to preserve the shutout. Rating: 5.5
Fabian Johnson: Returning to the left back position, Johnson was very steady defensively and came up with a nice assist on Altidore’s first goal to give the Yanks a 2-0 lead. Rating: 6
Christian Pulisic: The teenager forced a nice save in the 8th minute and then almost altered the rules of physics when he hit two posts with one shot in the 32nd minute. His slicing run seven minutes after the restart resulted in in a great chance that Altidore couldn't capitalize on and then Pulisic's cross in the 56th went across an unattended goalmouth. The Borussia Dortmund prodigy almost had another assist in stoppage time with a beautiful through-ball to Altidore. Overall his skill and talent was on display for all to see. It was only a matter of time before he picked up an assist to Altidore for a 3-0 lead. Rating: 8.5
Michael Bradley: The captain had a decidedly mixed game. His passing and playmaking was off but he forced a lot of turnovers and disrupted Trinidad & Tobago from attacking up the middle. Still, he’s capable of much, much more. Rating: 5
Sacha Kljestan: The former Seton Hall standout was a little slow at the start but found his way into the game nicely. He missed a shot in the box early but gave the U.S. the lead late in the first half when he blocked a clearance and scored when it landed at his feet. In the second half, Kljestan played a perfect ball to Pulisic who assisted on Altidore’s second. His passing really controlled the midfield for the U.S. Rating: 7.5
Alejandro Bedoya: The new Philadelphia Union midfielder was quiet tonight but should have drawn a penalty in the 26th minute and only a big save prevented him an assist in the early stages of the second half. Rating: 5.5
Bobby Wood: It was a slow night for the Hamburg forward who did not find his way into the game. His best chance came in the 32nd minute when he nearly got on the end of a nice Altidore cross only to have the ball roll just beyond his outstretched leg. Rating: 5
Jozy Altidore: The Toronto FC forward was dangerous in the first half and forced a big save in the 52nd minute after taking pass from Bedoya. Then he scored two goals in quick succession—the first assisted by Johnson and the second assisted by Pulisic. While he blew some good chances, the bottom line is that he hasn’t been playing this well for club and country since his days at AZ Alkmaar. Rating: 7.5
Jordan Morris: The Seattle Sounders rookie replaced Wood in the 60th minute. In his half hour on the field he was very dangerous and involved in the attack. Rating: 6.5
Paul Arriola: The Tijuana attacker replaced Bedoya in the 66th minute and scored his second goal in just his second cap when he hammered home a rebound from a Pulisic shot. He was energetic, lively, and involved. Rating: 6.5
Caleb Stanko: The FC Vaduz defensive midfielder looked a little nervous as he came on in the 73rd minute to claim his first cap. He made a few turnovers but none of them proved costly. Rating: 5
Jurgen Klinsmann: The U.S. national team manager deserves credit for starting an exciting starting lineup that rewarded Kljestan and Pulisic from their strong performances on Friday. Both players responded with strong displays. With Mexico looming and good players like John Brooks, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, and DeAndre Yedlin waiting to return to the team, Klinsmann seems to have this team heading in the right direction. Rating: 7
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