Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
It wasn’t pretty, and you could argue it was tougher than it needed to be, but the U.S. Men’s National Team still came through with a thrilling last-minute victory that not only gives the team three precious HEX points, but also a major boost of confidence heading into two home qualifiers.
Brad Evans stole the show with his stoppage-time winner, turning in another strong effort at right back to quiet concerns about him being unable to handle the role. Graham Zusi also rewarded Jurgen Klinsmann’s faith another quality outing.
Not all of the U.S. performances were strong though. Fabian Johnson was surprisingly ineffective despite being matched up with Jamaica’s least-experienced defender, while Omar Gonzalez still had some jitters despite finishing the match well and dominating in the air.
Here are the SBI USMNT Player Grades vs. Jamaica:
USMNT PLAYER GRADES (vs. Jamaica)
TIM HOWARD (5)
It can be argued that Howard could have done better on Jamaica’s goal, and there wasn’t much more for Howard to do on the night.
BRAD EVANS (6.5)
Struggled at times with the speed of Garath McCleary, but Evans kept him contained for the most part with the help of Graham Zusi. Capped a steady showing with the game-winning goal to strengthen his hold on the right back spot. Now he’s poised to start in front of his home fans in Seattle on Tuesday.
OMAR GONZALEZ (5.5)
Had some uneasy moments, and looked early on like he still wasn’t completely comfortable, but he eventually became a dominating force, delivering a team-best 14 clearances and seven interceptions. Did enough to keep the job.
MATT BESLER (6.5)
Quietly emerging as the best centerback on the team, Besler delivered several vital interventions and covered well for Gonzalez when necessary. In a back-line that is still finding a rhythm, Besler provides a poise that is sorely needed.
DAMARCUS BEASLEY (6)
Tested by the speedy Jermaine Johnson all night, Beasley had some struggles but never allowed Johnson the freedom to deliver truly dangerous service from the flank.
FABIAN JOHNSON (5.5)
From an offensive standpoint, Johnson’s night was disappointing. He was expected to run wild against Jamaica teenage fullback Alvas Powell, but didn’t have any key contributions to the attack. Where he did help was in tracking back to assist Beasley in containing Jamaica’s speedy wingers.
JERMAINE JONES (6)
Was enjoying a strong outing in central midfield, but was forced to leave in the 59th with a concussion. Before that he partnered with Michael Bradley well in trying to contain Jamaica’s central playmakers.
MICHAEL BRADLEY (7)
Hit the post with a shot just two minutes in the match, then delivered the game-winning assist in second-half stoppage time. In the 90 minutes between those two plays, Bradley covered more ground than any U.S. player and made a case for Man of the Match consideration, particularly with the way he finished the match strongly.
GRAHAM ZUSI (7)
Gave a performance that showed why Klinsmann rates him so highly. Not only did he show off a quick step to free himself and deliver the opening assist, Zusi also turned in a boatload of defensive work to help out Brad Evans.
CLINT DEMPSEY (5.5)
No, Dempsey didn’t find the net this time around, but he turned in plenty of defensive work and also tried to find gaps in the Jamaica defense.
JOZY ALTIDORE (7)
Another strong game from the target striker, who did well to finish Graham Zusi’s perfect cross, while also putting in a respectable amount of off-the-ball work. His confidence keeps growing and he’s poised to continue scoring if the service keeps coming.
GEOFF CAMERON (6)
Not many would have expected Cameron to be the first choice off the bench to deputize in a central midfield role, but those who remember his time in MLS know he has played all over the field and could handle the role. His length and athleticism made him perfectly-suited for the task of trying to break up Jamaica’s central forays.
EDGAR CASTILLO (5.5)
Deployed as a left winger to replace Fabian Johnson, Castillo was effectively active in putting pressure on the Jamaica defense when given the chance. Had one sequence where he could have done better and delivered a pass that could have sparked a scoring chance, but was still much improved from his shaky showing vs. Germany.
EDDIE JOHNSON (NR)
Didn’t get major minutes, but was active and aggressive and he looks like a good bet to start vs. Panama in Seattle on Tuesday. Did appear to lose his mark on Jamaica’s goal, something he will want to improve if he is going to handle set-piece defending assignments.
What did you think of our grades? Who would you have given a higher grade? How about a lower grade? Who impressed you the most vs. Jamaica? Who surprised you? Who disappointed you?
Share your thoughts below.