Three prominent Americans—all of them midfielders—delivered decidedly subpar performances against Colombia on Friday, contributing greatly to the U.S. national team's loss to Colombia.
November 15, 2014
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performed admirably in the face of wave after wave of Colombian attacks. It must be said, he’s quite accustomed to matches like this given that he plays for lowly Aston Villa. Though he didn’t make any saves that were particularly noteworthy—aside from a superb block from a Juan Cuadrado second-half effort—he did an excellent job of minimizing dangerous rebounds. And on the two goals, there was very little he could do. Rating: 6
is really, really fast. We saw that a couple times on lung-busting runs down the right flank. But at the tender age of 21, Yedlin is also prone to foolish mistakes and bad giveaways. He gave the ball away in terrible positions at least twice, and if James Rodriguez had been more clinical, he could have been directly at fault for a goal or two.
It was perhaps the worst performance in his young national team career, but it’s nothing to get too worried about. Every player who’s barely old enough to legally drink is going to have growing pains. On to the next one. Rating: 4.5
: Far too often against the dynamic Colombians, Jermaine Jones
looked like he’d hardly played center back before. Oh. That’s right. He’s been a midfielder his whole career. Whereas Jones was able to rely on his athleticism to thwart a Honduras “B”-team last time out, Colombia’s movement and pace was simply too much for him. His poor positioning was exposed again and again (notably on his late tracking of the assister on Colombia’s winner), and he just didn’t look comfortable all night. He also conceded a stonewall hand ball penalty that could have been a red card by the letter of the law, but somehow the referee didn’t even call a penalty.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a bit baffled by the Jones-at-center-back experiment. Center back is the position on the field that is arguably most dependent on controlled, well-positioned play. These attributes have never been Jones’ strength, and his athleticism will only continue to regress, thus rendering him even more ineffective. Perhaps he’ll prove me wrong over the coming months (years?), but it’s hard to ignore the fact that a benched Matt Besler
would have put in a far more sturdy performance back there.
: On a night when the U.S. got absolutely blitzkrieged for most of the 90 minutes, John Brooks
held up extremely well. He has a useful knack for bringing his best for the national team even when his club situation is sometimes nearing Brek Shea at Stoke City territory, and he looked comfortable against Colombia from start to finish. His pace and size allows him to make excellent recovery challenges with ease, and he cut out several dangerous attacks with well-timed interventions.
The biggest complaint would be that he (along with the rest of the U.S. team) stopped playing on Colombia’s equalizer, but it looked unlikely that he would have gotten to Carlos Bacca, anyway. Rating: 6.5
: In the interest of avoiding hyperbole, let’s not get too ahe—GREG GARZA
IS GOING TO BE THE STARTING LEFT BACK AT THE NEXT TWO WORLD CUPS. Whew. It feels good to get that out. It’s not that Garza does anything in a particularly world-class manner, but he does everything well, and he’s actually a real left back. As DaMarcus Beasley and Carlos Bocanegra (among others) can attest to, that’s not even remotely a prerequisite to playing left back in the World Cup, but it would certainly be nice to have one.
On Friday night, in the face of near continuous one-on-one battles with Rodriguez and Cuadrado—two of the world’s trickier dribblers—Garza held his own again and again, just as he has in every national team appearance so far.
His positioning is sound, he runs pretty well, he’s strong, he attacks competently... There’s a lot to like here, and he’s only 23. Rating: 6
: Kyle Beckerman
did his usual thing, getting in front of the back four and bailing the U.S. out with his customarily excellent positioning. He was the one U.S. midfielder who didn’t look a bit overwhelmed in the face of such relentless Colombian pressure, and he also nearly picked up an assist with a brilliant first-time cross to Rubio Rubin.
It’s a shame that science hasn’t advanced to the point where we can clone Beckerman and reset his age to 22, giving him a full career with the national team. Rating: 6
: I hate to be the bearer of more bad news, but as was the case with Yedlin, this was probably Mix Diskerud’s
least impressive national team performance. Handed the unenviable Michael-Bradley-in-the-World-Cup “Do Literally Everything” role that Klinsmann likes to demand of someone, Diskerud didn’t really do much of anything at all. He looked to be caught in between his attacking and defensive duties, and neither really came off for him.
The end result? A game that really bypassed him in both directions. This is not to say that Diskerud will never be up for this role, but he simply isn’t yet ready to dictate the tempo in a game against such quality opposition. Rating: 4.5
: In a game that doubtlessly meant quite a bit to the Colombian-American Alejandro Bedoya
, the FC Nantes midfielder did himself proud with a typically solid performance. The Yanks always seem a bit more defensively stable when he’s on the field, and he also provided one of the U.S.’s classiest attacking moments—he was unlucky to not get an assist on his lovely chip to Rubin.
Wherever Klinsmann deploys him, Bedoya seems to be up to the task. Expect him to have a huge role in the upcoming cycle.
: Nearly every time Fabian Johnson
takes the field for the U.S., he is one of the absolute best players on the pitch. But very occasionally, he delivers an absolute clunker. The last one was in September 2013 against Mexico, and this performance belongs right there with it. First on the left side of midfield and then at right back, Johnson just didn’t get it done, delivering none of the nifty attacking play we’re so accustomed to seeing and far too many poor turnovers.
Also, his failure to track Bacca on Colombia’s goal was desperately poor defending. The ASN No. 3 ranked player will surely bounce back, but this was a shocking performance.
: For the sake of all things hype machine, it’s probably for the best that the speedy Oregonian didn’t score one (or both) of his very presentable headed chances. Many will focus on the missed chances, but let us not discount the fact that an 18-year-old kid’s movement was so sharp that he twice found himself open right in front of goal against one of the world’s best teams.
Also, an element of Rubio Rubin’s
game that I sure didn’t know he had: strength. We saw it on the physical battle that won the U.S. an early penalty, but just as relevantly moving forward, we saw it throughout the game as he drew a series of pressure-relieving fouls when the U.S. was parked deep in its defensive third. Well done, Mr. Rubin.
: Jozy Altidore
took his penalty reasonably well, but aside from that he didn’t muster too many positive moments in an “Altidore at Sunderland” special, which refers more to his lack of service than any fault of his own. He did pretty well in some physical challenges, but he hardly saw the ball as Colombia utterly dominated the proceedings after the U.S.’s goal. Rating: 5.5
: Morales looked a little bit more out of his depth against Colombia than he has in recent appearances, but he still played well enough as the late onslaught really ratcheted up. We also saw some attacking quality for the first time in Morales’s U.S. career, as his perfect one-touch through ball to Bobby Wood nearly gave the U.S. a late (and undeserved) lead.
: You just get the feeling that one of these games it’s all going to come together for Wood. He’s got a very intriguing combination of size and speed, which enables him to get into good spots in front of goal with impressive frequency. His near-post rocket from a tight angle showed he is not lacking confidence and he nearly scored a late go-ahead goal with a surging run through the middle. Rating: 5.5
: Beasley came on after Garza took a knock and didn’t get a chance to do too much other than defend deep. Rating: 5.5
: MVLee came on to the field for the national team for the first time in seven years and wasted no time in doing something special. His brilliant back heeled flick to Morales nearly set up Wood’s goal, and he looked comfortable on each one of his touches. He needed to make a splash, and he did. Expect him back in the fold over the coming months. Rating: 6
: Green played just a few minutes and had the unfortunate task of marking Teo Gutierrez on the back post for the Colombian striker’s late winner. Rating: Incomplete
: This game was eerily reminiscent of the Belgium game in the World Cup, and that is not remotely a good thing. Klinsmann deserves credit for setting up an ostensibly attacking team, but there was very little attacking whatsoever, just a steady stream of Colombian attacks that could have resulted in a lopsided score line had Colombia been more clinical.
Klinsmann tried to push a narrative after the game about how the U.S. played in an entertaining manner and should have had a draw, but neither claim is remotely true. Rating: 5
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