The United States would face its toughest competition yet in the Gold Cup. Who knew when the night started that it would get chippy as it did, but CONCACAF gonna CONCACAF.
Bruce Arena made several changes to the starting XI from the team that faced Nicaragua. As we figured he would, putting to work some of the six men that he called in after the group stage wrapped up.
Despite the back line being pants (except for Justin Morrow), the boys in red, white and blue picked up a 2-0 win. Which to me is amazing that a team that played as bad as the USMNT did, they could still walk away with the win. This means they will face the Ticos in the semi-finals on Saturday.
Tim Howard: 6.0
What can you say about a guy that picked up his 40th International clean-sheet? Not hard when he only recorded one save on the night. That came in the fourth minute with an outstretched paw to stop a bad back pass by Lichaj.
Justin Morrow: 7.0
To me he was the best defender on the field for the United States. Whether it was getting back on defense to be able to clear a ball to rushing up the wing to join the attack. He did what the USA really needed him to do, get up on the wing and provide crosses into the box. He was the lone bright spot on a dismal defensive unit.
Omar Gonzalez: 5.5
The only bright spot for Omar was his third international goal and second of the tournament. Matter of fact all of his international goals have come in the Gold Cup. Lets face it outside the goal he hasn’t had the best tournament. He doesn’t seem to want to take control of the back line, like say Geoff Cameron. I think with him being the ‘vet’ on the back line he should have stepped up to take a leadership role.
Matt Hedges: 5.0
I’m not even sure where to start with Hedges. I had hope going into this match that he’d turn himself around after Nicaragua, but alas it wasn’t to be. Early on he had a shot on goal but that was about it. His distribution was dismal, and he was beat and dispossessed several times. Over all he looked way out of place at the international level tonight. Matt Besler would have been a better option here.
Eric Lichaj: 5.5
His goal a lot like Omar’s can’t gloss over a terrible night. It’s good to see Arena giving him a chance. Maybe it was an off night, though I hope it doesn’t hurt him too much. Tonight he didn’t look like a guy that could replace the Graham Zusi experiment at right-back. This is a time to impress, and he did not.
Michael Bradley: 7.0
For the most part el capitan had a decent night - nothing to write home about, yet not as terrible as some of the others were on the pitch tonight. I thought that he and Nagbe worked will together, with Bradley playing deeper and Nagbe just ahead of him. He had a beautiful cross in on a set piece that Omar Gonzalez got his head to in the 41st minute to put the USA up 1-0. He showed again tonight why he will the the starter in the 2018 World Cup.
Darlington Nagbe: 7.0
This just in, Nagbe still good at soccer.
He started the night playing a bit more centrally than he’s used to for both Club and Country. Before the starting lineups came out I was sure he’d start on the wing. Didn’t expect Arriola to get the start, but we’ll talk about that later. Nagbe played just a bit ahead of Michael Bradley and acted as the fulcrum. He may not have showed up on the score sheet but he put in a solid night of work.
Paul Arriola: 6.5
I wasn’t expecting him to get the start, but apparently Arena see something in him. And in all honesty he had a decent night. In the first half it seemed like he was always getting into position on the attack and had a couple chances. You can that he was frustrating the El Salvador defense. He made some good cuts inside, and overall solid night. I think he had one of his better games of the tournament.
Clint Dempsey: 7.0
Landon Donovan’s scoring record is still in tact.....for now. Deuce was Deuce all night. He was giving El Salvador’s defense fits here and there with his off the ball movement. It was hard for SLV to concentrate on both Altidore and Dempsey. He had a shot on goal in the early going but it was easily saved. It wouldn’t be until stoppage time in the first half that he got himself on the score sheet. He had a sweet pass to Eric Lichaj for the second and final goal of the match.
Gyasi Zardes: 6.0
I seemed to be one of the few (if not the only one) that though he had a decent night. Zardes just wasn’t that bad guys. Yes, we know he has a crap first touch but he was getting down the wing crossing balls like it was his job. Of course not a lot of them connected with intended targets. When I mean ‘not bad’, still not all that impressive. We’ve seen better and we’ve seen worse Zardes. For whatever reason I’ll never figure out why Bruce Arena loves him so. And I’m sure we’ll see more of him.
Jozy Altidore: 6.5
What a night Jozy had, especially in the second half. I saw two things I had never seen before in soccer, 1. A player getting a nipple twist and 2. getting bit. Don’t get me started on the tactics El Salvador employed most of the night. While he didn’t show up on the score sheet - like Dempsey, Jozy was making life difficult for the El Salvadoran defense. Though the bad part about the night is he is now scoreless in his last 10 international matches. Which is surprising the way he’s tearing it up at TFC.
Jordan Morris (for Paul Arriola 66th min): 5.0
He came on for Arriola on the wing providing a bit more pace down the wing. He didn’t really have a major impact on the match in his 24 minutes.
Though he did pick up a foul.
Kellyn Acosta (for Gyasi Zardes 70th min): 6.0
While he didn’t have a great match against Nicaragua, he did well in his 20 minute cameo. Had several crisp passes and was pressing the SLV offense well. He was brought on as an extra defensive insurance and played his role to a tee.
Chris Pontius (for Darlington Nagbe 86th): N/A
Not enough time on the pitch to give a rating too.
How would you rate the USMNT tonight? Let us know in the comments!