Yanks Dominate. Deuce Scores Three. Ratings Here
July 18, 2015
BALTIMORE—For the most part, United States men's national team practices are closed to the prying eyes of the media and general public.
But such was the level of domination by the U.S. against Cuba in a CONCACAF Gold Cup Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium that the game seemed less like a match in the knockout stage of a confederation championship and more like a glorified training session.
Like a Chicago election, the U.S. did what it had to do early and often. Within minutes of the opening whistle the only thing left to doubt was the final score, which in this case, happened to be 6-0.
It’s tough to draw too many conclusions from a prac—game like this. Sure, plenty of U.S. players were involved in nice sequences, but even at its best Cuba is nowhere near the U.S.' level. This Cuba squad leaped into the knockout stage with just two days rest, minus four players who had defected, and with the worst goal-differential of any team to ever advance from the Gold Cup group stage.
Still, like any good practice sessions, there are still things to be learned and statements to be made. So without further ado, the ratings…
BRAD GUZAN—Looked absolutely stunning in yellow and his hands-on-hips pose for minutes at a time is next-level. He made one rather easy first-half save but otherwise wasn’t tested and was little more than a glorified spectator. Rating: 5.5
FABIAN JOHNSON—Despite the presence of veteran DaMarcus Beasley on the roster, Johnson stayed at left back instead of being moved elsewhere. Made some nice overlapping runs and hit a sweet cross that was finished nicely in the 14th minute to put the U.S. up 2-0. Rating: 6.5
VENTURA ALVARADO—Didn’t have much to do but still managed to get caught ball watching on one of Cuba’s few chances in the 41st minute. That wasn’t costly against Cuba but could be going forward. Otherwise he was mistake-free but also wasn’t tested much. Rating: 5
OMAR GONZALEZ—Rarely tested defensively, Gonzalez still made this trip to the state where he played his college soccer memorable by scoring his first international goal when he got a foot on a header into the box late in the first half. Biggest surprise was that the six-foot-five player’s first goal wasn’t with his head. Grade: 6
TIMOTHY CHANDLER—Other than an early giveaway that led to nothing for Cuba, he was mistake-free in his 45 minutes and was active and dangerous going forward. His well-struck cross to Dempsey early in the game unlocked the Cuba defense and set the tone for the rest of the game: Grade: 6
KYLE BECKERMAN—Playing in his home state, Beckerman did all that was asked of him in 45 minutes as he served as a decent link between offense and defense and broke up the few Cuban counters that came his way. Grade: 6
ALEJANDRO BEDOYA—A solid but unspectacular showing at left mid. For Bedoya, the bigger point, besides advancing, was getting 90 minutes after playing for just the second time since May 2. Had some solid combinations with Johnson on the right and had some nice bursts of skill but didn’t create as many chances as he did earlier this week against Panama. Rating: 6
MICHAEL BRADLEY—Games like this are almost too easy for the U.S. captain. Rarely tested defensively, he was able to control the attack with both short and long passes and hit good set-pieces that constantly created chances. Hit a beautiful long ball for an Aron Johansson goal, had a secondary assist on Gonzalez’ goal after an effective corner kick and a nice and unselfish pass for Dempsey’s third. Rating: 7.5
GYASI ZARDES—Continues to blossom in 2015, and was rewarded for his effort when he timed his run perfectly to stay onside and calmly finished in 15th minute to make it 3-0. Also tracked back on defense in the 19th to break up a rare Cuba chance and had nice pass for Bradley in the 58th to create chance that forced good Cuban save. Rating: 7
CLINT DEMPSEY—Fewer hat tricks have ever seemed easier. Nice header for the early and set up a nice chance midway through the first half. Calmly finished a PK in the second half and then completed the hat trick with a sublime finish off the outside of his foot as he edges closer to both the Gold Cups Golden Boot (six goals so far) and to within 10 of Landon Donovan’s U.S. record of 57 goals. Rating: 8
ARON JOHANNSSON—Active and dangerous all game long, he continually checked back and served as a de facto target to involve his fellow attackers and his hold-up play drew the foul that led to the second U.S. goal. He finished another one himself minutes later. Also drew the PK that Dempsey converted in the second half. Rating: 7
JOE CORONA—On for Beckerman at halftime, he provided a solid shift as a holding mid in his first minutes of the tournament after being added after the group stage. Nothing spectacular but no mistakes. Rating: 6
BRAD EVANS—Barely tested after coming on for Chandler, Evans was solid and hit a couple of nice crosses, one of which came to Johnannsson just before he drew the penalty. Rating: 5.5
DEANDRE YEDLIN—It’s almost unfair to bring on someone with Yedlin’s energy and enthusiasm against a team as exhausted as Cuba, especially in sweltering conditions. Yedlin terrorized the Cubans for a few minutes but took his foot off the gas late, perhaps put of mercy. Rating: 6
JURGEN KLINSMANN—When your team wins by six and has a nine-game unbeaten run, it’s hard to find fault. After a trio of lackluster showings in the group stage, he had the U.S. ready from the jump and quickly end any suspense in this one. Rating: 7
Brooke Tunstall is an American Soccer Now contributing editor and ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.