In the final tune-up before the big start to the Hexagonal against Mexico, the USMNT tied 1-1 against an interesting New Zealand side. I say interesting because many of the All Whites as New Zealand’s national team are called play outside of their country as the national league is semi-professional.
This leads to a difficult time for New Zealand to really build up a deep player pool, meaning you will see substitutes that play in the depths of minor league soccer. For example, the starting goalkeeper plays in the German fourth division, while at the same time captain Winston Reid is an established English Premier League central defender for West Ham.
With all of this in mind, the United States put in a very uneven performance last night. Quite clearly the sum of the New Zealand parts equaled much more than the individual as they created opportunities in the attack and rarely seemed overwhelmed. The narrow 2-1 loss for New Zealand against Mexico was another indication that they might just be another difficult out should they make it to Russia in 2018.
Enough talk, here are the ratings:
GK: William Yarbrough: 5
Yarbrough did nothing to indicate that he should break into the USMNT goalkeeping hierarchy once again. He seemed unsure of himself at different times and while he kept a clean sheet during his half of play he made a few curious decisions, namely punching a ball clear when it should have been caught.
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GK: David Bingham: 4.5
Bingham was given an opportunity in the second half and while he didn’t make any egregious errors has to penalized for the goal especially with it going between his legs.
LB: Kellyn Acosta: 5.5
Playing outside of his typical club position, Acosta failed to even get mentioned much. Defensively he was solid and prevented any major attacks from his flank, but offered very little going forward. That was likely a part of his instructions however as flank mate Julian Green isn’t known for tracking back.
CB: Matt Besler: 5
Another fairly average performance from Besler. Against top competition, his lack of athleticism can be exposed but against the likes of New Zealand Besler can show off his strengths. He was very good passing the ball from the back and at times carrying the ball into the midfield, but on the goal, one could make an argument that Besler was caught napping.
CB: Omar Gonzalez: 4.5
Gonzalez didn’t do much to make a case for him starting in competitive matches as his play defensively could be described as shaky at best. New Zealand striker Chris Wood, who is their best attacking threat, was frequently allowed too much space on the ball and fired several dangerous shots.
RB: Michael Orozco: 5.5
Orozco put in a very reassuring performance. He is obviously not the first choice at outside back, but he was able to prove himself to not be a liability. While Orozco didn’t offer much, if anything, going forward he was very capable in defense.
DMF: Perry Kitchen: 5
Kitchen had a mixed game last night. Defensively he was very good and was a capable shield in front of the back line. It might be a coincidence, but New Zealand didn’t score their goal until Kitchen had left the match. With the ball, Kitchen was another story as he took much of the match to create a working partnership with Michael Bradley. In a game that the USMNT should have dominated the midfield, Kitchen didn’t contribute to retaining possession and didn’t really launch any attacks.
DMF: Michael Bradley: 5.5
Perhaps my expectations are too high for Bradley, but he didn’t have a match that stood out. Captain America was extremely ordinary and lacked the killer pass that takes defenders out of the game.
RW: DeAndre Yedlin: 5.5
As is now typical of Yedlin, last night was a very uneven performance. Be it confusing offside calls against him or misplayed touches, Yedlin did himself no favors for the overall match ratings. On a positive note, Yedlin did have a few dangerous crosses and he worked well with Orozco. Late in the second half, Yedlin moved back to the right back and defended fairly well.
CAM: Sacha Kljestan: 7
Kljestan was able to showcase the kind of passing that has seen him top the MLS assist tables so frequently. While not boasting an abundance of pure athletic ability, Kljestan consistently picked out dangerous passes and worked very well with both wingers and Jozy Altidore. With this performance, Kljestan should have earned himself the start against Mexico.
LW: Julian Green: 7.5
Aside from scoring the lone USMNT goal, Green was willing and able to take on defenders all night. He was able to showcase what makes him an exciting part of this young generation of attacking talent in the USMNT player pool. All night long, Green could be seen taking on defenders and playing in quality crosses. There are obviously parts of his game that need to be improved upon, but this was the second solid outing in a row for Julian Green.
ST: Jozy Altidore: 4.5
This was a disappointing performance for Altidore in my opinion. The holdup play, in particular, was poor, as Altidore consistently had poor touches that led to turnovers. That wasn’t his only problem, when Altidore was readying for a shot, he took unneeded touches that led to the defense catching up and blocking the shot.
Lynden Gooch: 5.5
The Sunderland youngster was able to show in his brief time on the field as a second-half substitute why he is so highly thought of. A speedy winger, Gooch is another player capable of taking players on and had two particularly nice crosses. His speed and effort also nearly dispossessed the New Zealand goalkeeper for an easy goal.
Danny Williams: N/A
Juan Agudelo: N/A
Terrence Boyd: N/A