Though it took a while for the US national team to warm up on Wednesday night, there wasn’t a whole lot to complain about in the aftermath of a 2-0 friendly win over archrivals Mexico in San Antonio.
Facing a Mexico squad that was easily more inexperienced than his own, US boss Jurgen Klinsmann got a solid defensive display to back up goals from Jordan Morris and Juan Agudelo.
Nick Rimando (6) – There wasn’t a whole lot for the Real Salt Lake mainstay to do in 45 minutes, but he did notch a save and flash some fancy footwork.
DeAndre Yedlin (7.5) – The Spurs right back was present if not deadly moving into attack, but the real story was his defensive dominance before sliding up the flank late. Yedlin succeeded on all four of his tackle attempts, notched seven clearances, picked off three Mexico passes, blocked an area shot and made too many help plays to count.
Omar Gonzalez (7) – A slide tackle attempt that came up short and allowed El Tri a dangerous rush was his main gaffe, though the Galaxy star did require a few help plays. For most of the night, he kept busy by coolly racking up a dozen clearances and steering several dribblers toward the sideline.
Ventura Alvarado (6.5) – The green center back had a few issues in the first half, most notably involving an early low cross allowed past and a stray back pass that granted Mexico a free corner kick near the break. But Alvarado finally settled during his third cap, working a smooth second half. Impressively, he led the team by swiping six Mexico passes, with each theft coming in the defensive third.
Greg Garza (6) – It was a fairly quiet first half shift for Garza, especially on the ball. He is becoming quietly adept at stabbing away clearances as a help defender, though.
Kyle Beckerman (6.5) – The opening half hour was mixed bag for the veteran midfielder, who got away with a couple of early turnovers in the US end. So Beckerman jump-started his performance with a few rough tackles and suddenly he went back to safely moving the ball in possession for most of his final 33 minutes on the field.
Mix Diskerud (7.5) – A few times on the night, the NYCFC midfielder looked like he was at least two levels above everyone else not named Bradley when it comes to vision and dictating the proper rhythm in attack. In 81 minutes, he completed no less than 13 positive passes in the final third. On top of that, you can add that this was easily the toughest tackling shift of Mix’s USMNT career to date. A couple of his successful lunges in were downright viperous.
Joe Corona (5) – Apart from a terrible giveaway in his own end, Corona worked a fairly unmemorable outing.
Michael Bradley (8) – It was a splendid night for the captain, who initiated both goal plays, showed plenty of elusiveness under pressure and contributed about a half-bajillion recovery helps all around central park. Still, the debate about his best position should continue loudly until he is used correctly. The relevant news is not that Bradley completed eight fewer positive attacking-third passes than Mix during the run of play; it’s that he completed 13 positive, mileage-eating passes from the middle third to the final third, including a delicious assist feed to Agudelo.
Gyasi Zardes (5.5) – The LA Galaxy forward had pretty much all the little things covered. Unfortunately, Zardes did not add a great deal more against an opponent ripe to pick on.
Jordan Morris (7) – There is no getting around the fact that Morris is an unnerving presence for opposing defenses. There should also be no argument with the opinion that he ruthlessly pounced on the defender carom to score his first US goal.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (6.5) – As is often the case, the Klinsi equation is tricky. Naturally, his dice rolls paid off on this night, but then one isn’t always going to face an El Tri side where 10 of the players combine for just 53 caps prior to kick-off.
In other words, let’s not go overboard about any tactics or personnel moves that worked. The first half was still weak, the team was still out-possessed, still out-shot. At the same time, getting his own rather green crew ready to fight the way they did counts for a good bit when “Dos a cero” is on the line.
William Yarbrough (6) – The back-up netminder came up with a punch and a save, but boy, he really needs to watch it with those shorter boots up the middle.
Miguel Ibarra (6) – Certainly more helpful moving the ball along than Corona, who he replaced at halftime, and Ibarra also pitched in with a key cross block to end a broken-but-still-dangerous restart sequence.
Brek Shea (6) – Like Ibarra, Shea out-shined the left-sider he replaced enough for everyone to notice, but not so much as to draw raves.
Perry Kitchen (6.5) – The D.C. United man was highly engaged in his 27 minutes. Playing quite physically, Kitchen stuffed seven forward passes in or into the attacking end, a pair of big tackles and even a couple of tries at goal. This space wants to see more, please.
Juan Agudelo (7) – While he essentially did nothing else in 25 minutes, the goal alone was worth a round of cheers. It all starts with the first touch, and Agudelo’s was so good before he fired the second goal that it verged on the gaudy.
Brad Evans (6.5) – We do not always give grades for such short shifts, but Evans executed a magnificent tackle at the gate to the US area to kill a Mexico threat.