There wasn't a lot of good in the United States' loss to Jamaica last night. It was an ugly 90 minutes and the U.S. deservedly lost, but there is still a Man of the Match award to hand out and it goes to Michael Parkhurst.
Parkhurst only got the start because Steve Cherundolo picked up a late injury and could not go. He was relatively untested at the international level. He had just 12 caps to his name entering the match and many of those came in January friendlies, where the competition is not near top international quality.
Working in Parkhurst's favor was the fantastic form he's been in for Nordsjaelland, helping them qualify for the Champions League. Could he carry that over and put in a good shift at right back against Jamaica's speed? I don't think anyone, Jurgen Klinsmann included, really knew, but with Cherundolo out there wasn't another option.
Probably knowing the question mark that Parkhurst was, Jamaica tried to use the left flank and test him, but the 28-year-old was up to the challenge. When the Reggae Boyz tried the right, Parkhurst pinched in and helped cover the back post. When the midfield got caught out, he stepped up to cut out the attack before it became too dangerous.
Even in the attack, where the former centerback was expected to be deficient, Parkhurst was able to push forward upon occasion. He put in a good cross for Dempsey once and on the rare occasions that the U.S. did have width, it came on the right with Parkhurst moving up. Nobody is going to confuse Parkhurst for an attacking wizard and he did look too hesitant at times going forward, but he didn't hurt the team even with his mistaks in the attacking half.
In a match like the one in Kingston, it is tough to find a Man of the Match for the U.S., but Parkhurst performed admirably. He was hung out to dry on the wing with little cover in front of him and it was never a problem for the U.S. While some might ask for more going forward, merely keeping the ball, which he did, was important. Considering the situation, could anyone have really asked for more from him?
Parkhurt may have been the big question mark when the lineups came out and it may have looked like a bad match-up, but he was up to the challenge on Friday night. That's something that can't be said of many Americans.
Herculez Gomez- He created the lone American goal with some industrious work on the right. Dempsey got the goal, but it was only possible because of Gomez's work. Gomez was very active up top and while starved for service, he made the best of the little he had.
Clint Dempsey- The goalscorer for the U.S. was a lot like the rest of the American attackers -- starved for service. he did well to move around in the box and cause some problems for Jamaica, but he didn't have enough opportunities.
Geoff Cameron- Despite playing in the midfield for Stoke, Cameron turned in a solid shift for the U.S. in defense. It wasn't as good as the show he put on in Mexico, but he certainly helped his case to be the Americans' first choice centerback going forward.