The United States came into their game against Martinique needing a win. After a lifeless draw against Panama, everyone knew that the USMNT had to play better. What we saw was a little better, but it was still a long way from a performance that is going to bring home the Gold Cup.
Bruce Arena made full use of his squad by changing eight of his eleven starters from the Panama game, giving them all a chance to prove themselves. Unfortunately, it meant that fans did not get to see more of Kelyn Rowe or Dom Dwyer, the breakout stars of the team so far.
In the end, the boys pulled out a 3-2 win, and here is how everyone played:
Brad Guzan - 5
For most of the game, Brad Guzan did his job. He made some solid saves, like a header from inside the 6 and a good punch on an 18-yard shot late in the first half. Unfortunately, he is the main person responsible for Martinique’s first goal. It was a shot from range that skipped under his outstretched arm. Nobody is going to deny he should have saved that. On the second goal, there was nothing he could really do, and he even made a solid save on the initial shot.
Eric Lichaj - 7
Eric Lichaj is a player that has not gotten many caps in exchange for his solid club career. It looks like he might finally be getting a real chance from Arena. Overall, he played very well and may have made a strong case to pass Graham Zusi on the depth chart. He was very solid on defense, and he made a great play to get an assist on the second goal of the game. The one real mistake he made was a bad first touch in the defensive end that led to a half chance, and while that docs his grade a bit, it probably won’t be a reoccurring mistake.
Omar Gonzalez - 7
Omar Gonzalez looked much better on Wednesday than he did against Panama. It may be helped that the competition was not as good, but he did much better tracking his men and winning his duels. He even scored his second international goal. Overall, it was a pretty good game by one of the vets of the squad.
Matt Hedges - 6
Matt Hedges looks pretty solid overall, but he did make a few slip ups. The biggest one was the play that led to the second goal for Martinique. He let himself get beat by the initial through ball that really sprung the attack that eventually led to the goal. Otherwise, he did a serviceable job.
Justin Morrow - 6.5
Justin Morrow did for the USA exactly what he has been known to do for Toronto, get up the field and make crosses. He did a wonderful job getting himself into position to provided some services to the likes of Juan Agudelo and Jordan Morris. Unfortunately, none of them materialized into much, so he gets a slightly above average score.
Paul Arriola - 7
Paul Arriola did a great job getting himself into position to make something happen, and things just never quite did. Some of those were his fault, like hitting the crossbar and hitting a fairly weak shot on-on-one with the goalie shortly after. Others, like the cross that was the right ball and just barely missed Gyasi Zardes late in the first half, were just plays that didn’t materialize. He did play a major factor in the first goal, however, with a good shot through traffic off a corner in which Gonzalez jumped on the rebound.
Kellyn Acosta - 6
Kellyn Acosta gave us a pretty typical performance Wednesday night. He didn’t really do much wrong, but he also didn’t really do much that was spectacular. He controlled the midfield with Cristian Roldan and managed to get up the field a bit. Overall, he didn’t do much to raise his stock, but it won’t drop after this game either.
Christian Roldan - 6
Cristian Roldan made his international debut Wednesday night, and he played a solid game. He did a good job keeping pressure off his back line, and he made a number of steals and interceptions in the middle of the park. He also hit some good passes and switched the field smartly a few times. Overall, this is a performance to build on in the future.
Gyasi Zardes - 6.5
Gyasi Zardes gave energy and showed his athleticism throughout the match, but his soccer skills let him down a bit as per usual. He skied a good opportunity in the first half, and he lost possession a number of times after taking a bad touch or passing to a spot where there was not a USA shirt. Finally, one of his opportunities was turned into something when he put a smart layoff back to Morris who finished for his second of the night. He gets a pretty good grade for now, but he will need to bring more than athleticism to make the World Cup.
Juan Agudelo - 6.5
Juan Agudelo gets credit for have a pretty sneakily good game. No, he didn’t score. No, he didn’t create a goal. What did do, however, is influence the game. Especially in the first half, he made a number of hustle plays and was constantly stretching the back line so that Jordan Morris could take advantage. He doesn’t get a lot of credit on the stat sheet, but he showed a lot of hustle and took up space well.
Jordan Morris - 8.5
Jordan Morris looked dangerous all night, there is not doubt about that. Even in the scoreless first half, he was making half chances look like they might they go in, and you could just get a feeling that he was going to have a good night. Then, he popped in two goals in the second half. Both came from smart runs and smart finished, and you gotta give a forward credit for those. The only reason he isn’t higher is because he got a little selfish going for a hat-trick and missed Zardes in on goal late in the game.
Alejandro Bedoya (in for Acosta in the 62’) - 5
Alejandro Bedoya came on and really did not have much of an effect on the game. He didn’t do anything bad, but the only “good” thing he did was get in position to sky a shot off of a great Morrow cross. Overall, Bedoya hasn’t been a game changer, even on the B-squad.
Chris Pontius (in for Arriola in the 73’) - 4
Chris Pontius had almost no effect on the game once he came on. He didn’t find a whole bunch of the ball, and he didn’t make much happen when he did. Maybe he can do more if he is given a chance to start against Nicaragua on Saturday.
Dax McCarty (in for Agudelo in the 86’) - N/A
Dax McCarty didn’t play long enough to warrant a rating.
How did you rate the USMNT against Martinique? Hit the comments and let us know!