Zardes and Klinsmann Have Tough Day at the Office
November 17, 2015
THE UNITED STATES men’s national team finished off a bad year with a dull, scoreless draw against Trinidad & Tobago in Port of Spain on Tuesday. The result may ultimately bode well for the team’s chances of advancing to the 2017 Hexagonal, but it was not a step in the right direction.
The U.S. began the match with much of its 2014 World Cup core: Tim Howard in goal; Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler in central defense; and Fabian Johnson, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Jozy Altidore, and DeAndre Yedlin elsewhere in the first XI. When the final whistle sounded, the Americans had the positive takeaway of having been the better team against a decent opponent for the first time in months.
The problem, however, is that the Yanks still could not put its opponent away.
For now, the U.S. focus will shift to the summer, when the Copa America Centenario—the biggest soccer event in the United States since the 1994 World Cup—awaits.
The Starting Lineup
Tim Howard: In his first meaningful game for the U.S. team since the 2014 World Cup, Howard made a few saves but none that were too difficult. His distribution was decent. Rating: 5.5
Tim Ream: The Fulham defender occasionally struggled to handle the speed of Trinidad & Tobago in the first half, but his passing was solid in an overall decent game. Rating: 5.5
Matt Besler: It was a very solid game for the Sporting Kansas City center back, who rarely made any defensive mistakes. His distribution out of the back was part of a strong second half in which the U.S. team was by far more dangerous. Rating: 7
Geoff Cameron: Had a tough time with former Stoke City teammate Kenwyne Jones, who broke free from Cameron for a shot in the 13th minute. Cameron improved as the game went on, though, and Trinidad & Tobago had few chances in the final hour. Rating: 6.5
Michael Orozco: The Club Tijuana defender is primarily a center back but earned the start at right back on Tuesday. As expected, he did not offer much getting forward, but he also was not beaten defensively on the evening. He allowed Yedlin ahead of him to push forward aggressively. Rating: 5.5
Fabian Johnson: Trinidad & Tobago came out strong, but Johnson woke up the U.S. team with its first shot in the 20th minute. From there it was a mediocre game from one of the most talented American players, who did spark the offense despite being given another start in his preferred midfield position. Rating: 5
Jermaine Jones: The out-of-contract midfielder did a lot of dirty work and had a strong second half with his passing. He forced a huge save in the 78th minute on a shot from over 30 yards out in what was one of the best scoring opportunities of the game. Rating: 6
Michael Bradley: It was a mixed night for the U.S. captain, who was just off in his passing, particularly in the first half. Bradley improved after the break, but he still wasn’t able to execute the dangerous passes required to get his forwards into dangerous positions. Rating: 4.5
DeAndre Yedlin: The speedy Sunderland player earned the start at right wing, and his speed was useful, although he disappeared in the final third—like most of his teammates. Rating: 5
Gyasi Zardes: The Galaxy forward had a tough outing, his first touch letting him down on multiple occasions. His miss off Altidore’s cross early in the second half, when he had the whole net at which to shoot, cost the Americans a result. Rating: 4
Jozy Altidore: The Toronto FC forward had a strong game and deserved better. He worked hard on both sides of the ball and set up Zardes in the 48th with a perfect cross for an inexcusable miss, in what was the best offensive play from either team all game. Altidore tracked back to win possession, too, and his hold-up play was effective. Rating: 6.5
Darlington Nagbe: The Portland Timbers midfielder showed both vision and control on the ball after coming on. His ambitious passes in the attacking third just missed, but it was a promising second cap. It’s only a matter of time, it’d seem, before Nagbee pays dividends. Rating: 6
Bobby Wood: It had been a year in which Wood made a strong impression, scoring big goals against opponents such as the Netherlands, Germany, and Mexico. But there were no heroics this time for Wood, who was rarely involved after replacing Zardes. Rating: NA
Jurgen Klinsmann: Going to Trinidad & Tobago and getting a draw is acceptable, although it’s probably not enough to halt the growing skepticism among fans over Klinsmann’s performance. The United States was the better team on the night but lacked ideas in the final third, casting doubt upon Klinsmann’s decision to leave Dempsey off this squad. On the other hand, the continuation of the Besler-Cameron pairing in central defense was the right call. In short, there was some good and some bad in an entirely forgettable performance—a fitting way to end a year many U.S. fans will indeed be hoping to forget. Rating: 4.5