Player ratings: USA 2-0 Panama — Bradley and Dempsey steal the show
The U.S. national team enjoyed a fairly comfortable 2-0 victory over Panama at StubHub Center on Sunday, and — surprise, surprise — it was two USMNT stars who stole the show.
But how did everyone else from the MLS-heavy January camp fare? Player ratings for the 13 players who saw 30 minutes or more:
Nick Rimando — 6: Forced to make one huge save in the first half, which he did, but Matt Besler’s slip which results in Blas Perez racing in one-on-one was due to Rimando’s poor pass out of the back. Made way for Sean Johnson at halftime.
[ THREE THINGS: What we learned from USA 2-0 Panama ]
DeAndre Yedlin — 6: Dangerous going forward and relatively untested defensively before going off injured in the 72nd minute. In other words, we didn’t really learn anything new about Yedlin today. Fingers crossed that he misses little or no time with the injury and continues regular training and U-21 games at Tottenham.
Jermaine Jones — 6: Aside from the why’s he playing center back in the first place question, Jones was just fine against Panama. There wasn’t a ton for either of the center backs to do (Panama took just six shots, one on target), so the need to rush back and make wild, last-ditch tackles was non-existent.
Matt Besler — 6: The only glaring defensive “mistake” of the day was, again, the fault of Rimando, so it’d be tough to hound Jones or Besler for anything they did. Again, though, there wasn’t a ton to do, but the pair did a nice job of building out of the back, often opting for more difficult, dangerous forward passes. That part of Klinsmann’s instruction has been a huge facet of the game.
Brek Shea — 6: Much better defensively — though, again, which far less to do — than against Chile. Probably benefitted greatly from the structure of being told, “you’re an out-and-out defender in the 4-2-3-1,” thus he was much more mindful of his defensive duties. A long-term answer at left back? There’s still no way.
[ FULL RECAP: USA 2-0 Panama as the winless streak comes to an end ]
Michael Bradley — 8: Scored the game’s opening goal, provided quality service on most every one of his set-piece deliveries, was sound in possession but a little off defensively, playing alongside the less disciplined Mix Diskerud. With Diskerud playing deep in midfield, his partner has to know the responsibility to stay at home rests almost solely on him. That need was not catered to in the second half, which caused the midfield to become stretched at times.
Mix Diskerud — 6.5: Someone else described Diskerud’s current role with the USMNT quite perfectly: “Mix has figured out that winning the ball and passing it right to Bradley is usually a good bet.” Bradley was very good against Panama, in part because Diskerud not only got him the ball often, but did so quickly. The quicker Diskerud gets rid of it, the less time the other team has to react and scramble back defensively.
Gyasi Zardes — 7: Played extremely well at his home stadium in the first half. Not only provided the perfect through ball for Clint Dempsey’s goal, but kept things simple in the final third. Became a bit of a ghost in the second half, but then again, so did the entire attack once Jozy Altidore was subbed off. Please, Klinsmann, give Chris Wondolowski’s ever-present place as last man on the roster to Zardes going forward.
Clint Dempsey — 7: Completely uninvolved the first 35 minutes of the game, but was totally composed in taking his goal and threw in a bit of fancy footwork for good measure. Looks to be in mid-season form already.
Miguel Ibarra — 6.5: Extremely tidy and efficient in possession (just four misplaced passes), which is rare in a player’s first international start. There’s obviously a massive amount of talent in Ibarra, but will he continue to garner call-ups while playing in the NASL? I hope so.
Jozy Altidore — 6: Subbed off at halftime with hamstring discomfort. Was pretty OK in his 45 minutes. Playing more alongside Dempsey allowed him to stay higher up the field than he did in the loss to Chile, which is good news for Altidore. Linked up well with Dempsey, as expected.
Sean Johnson — 6: Zero shots on target from Panama (just one in total) during Johnson’s 45-minute spell means, once again, very little to do. He looked assured in commanding the penalty area and claim balls in the air, which is something he often struggles with for the Chicago Fire.
Chris Wondolowski — 4: The chance he whiffed on from five yards out, with an open goal ahead of him, undoubtedly brought back nightmares of the infamous World Cup sitter against Belgium. It’s been a while since Wondo’s done anything to help his USMNT stock, so one has to wonder how long he keeps getting that phone call with Zardes — and others — hot on his trail.
All other substitutes had too little time to have much effect on a game that, by that point, had creeped to a snail’s pace and lost any semblance of cohesive play.