By IVES GALARCEP
It was a tale of two midfields on Friday night as the U.S. Men’s National Team overcame a disappointing start to turn in a dominating second-half effort in demolishing Guatemala, 6-0, in a Gold Cup tune-up match in San Diego.
Halftime subs Stuart Holden and Mix Diskerud helped drive the U.S. attack into a new gear, and helped Landon Donovan deliver in a strong return to the national team with a two goal effort.
There were plenty of positives all over the field for the Americans. DaMarcus Beasley continued to impress at left back, Brek Shea showed encouraging signs late in the match, and Herculez Gomez reminded us just how good he is at finding the net.
It’s tough to find many negatives from a 6-0 victory, but if there were any, it was in the shaky early play of the U.S. defense, which had more trouble with Guatemala’s one-forward attack in the first 30 minutes of the match than most would have expected them to have.
Here is a rundown of how all the USMNT players fared on Friday night, with the SBI USMNT Player Grades vs. Guatemala:
USMNT PLAYER GRADES vs. GUATEMALA
NICK RIMANDO (5)
Didn’t have much to do on the night, though there were some uncharacteristically shaky moments.
MICHAEL PARKHURST (6)
Did very well defensively, stepping in to help clean up messes on a handful of occasions. Didn’t offer much getting forward, though he did try to join the attack, particularly in the second half.
OGUCHI ONYEWU (5)
Looked unsure on the ball, and while he did clean up aerial challenges, he still looks rusty in space, and in possession.
CLARENCE GOODSON (5.5)
First half was shaky, and some decisions were real head-scratchers, but he improved in the second half (under less pressure) and scored an impressive goal.
DAMARCUS BEASLEY (6.5)
The best U.S. player in the first half, Beasley looked dangerous getting forward and handled his defensive duties well. Was solid throughout the match.
KYLE BECKERMAN (5)
Struggled to control the middle of the park in the first half, though part of that was down to the lack of movement in the U.S. attack.
LANDON DONOVAN (7.5)
Invisible in the first 30 minutes, Donovan looked like he was deferring to his teammates. In the second half he became much more aggressive and played a key role in the blowout, scoring a pair of goals and setting up a third.
JOE CORONA (5.5)
Never really could get going as he tried impressing his hometown fans. Did make a good run on the opening goal that freed up Herculez Gomez, and showed a few glimpses in possession, but just didn’t take advantage of his chance to impress.
JOSE TORRES (5.5)
Not his best performance, but he did set up the opening goal with a good pass. Struggled to really get the attack going in the early part of the match, committing several turnovers. Didn’t exactly cement his place on a starting Gold Cup role.
EDGAR CASTILLO (5.5)
Very active on the left wing, though it was definitely a case of feast or famine. Lost the ball far too often, but when he was effective he could really pressure the Guatemala defense.
HERCULEZ GOMEZ (6)
Scored the opening goal with a timely run, and his movement up top helped free up space for his teammates. He also delivered the cross that helped draw a penalty. Set piece deliver left a lot to be desired though, and he may want to defer to his teammates going forward.
STUART HOLDEN (8)
A virtuoso performance from the Bolton midfielder. Set up Donovan’s second goal with a perfect cross, and sparked the sequence that led to the final goal of the match with a perfect long pass. His distribution was stellar and he looked like he has fully recovered from the injury ordeal that has cost him the better part of the past two years.
MIX DISKERUD (7)
Was a perfect complement to Holden, moving well and making himself available for passing channels and showing a good passing eye. Played a part in the build-up on Donovan’s second goal and Wondolowski’s goal. Not sure he did enough to grab a starting role at the Gold Cup, but definitely turned in a confidence-building effort.
CHRIS WONDOLOWKSI (6.5)
Quietly had a solid match. Not only scored his first international goal with a clean finish, he also worked a give-and-go with Holden on Donovan’s second goal, and made a good run to free space for Alejandro Bedoya’s goal.
ALEJANDRO BEDOYA (5.5)
Scored the final goal of the night, and played the right wing role well in his 31 minutes.
BREK SHEA (6)
Very aggressive getting forward, and looked like he is over the foot ailments that cost him much of the first half of 2013. Did commit his share of turnovers, and some of his passes showed signs of rust, but it was his most encouraging USMNT performance in some time and his good cross helped set up Bedoya’s match-capping goal.
WILL BRUIN (NR)
Didn’t have much to do during his 17-minue cameo. Was on the receiving end of a quality Holden pass, but couldn’t control it enough to have a legit chance on goal.
JURGEN KLINSMANN (7)
The starting lineup left something to be desired in terms of effectiveness, but the group Klinsmann trotted out for the second half was very effective and now the USMNT heads into the Gold Cup riding high off a confidence-building performance. Suddenly, Klinsmann’s decision to leave Landon Donovan out of the June qualifiers is looking like a stroke of genius.
What do you think of these grades? Any players you feel were graded too generously? Anybody you feel deserved a higher grade?
Share your thoughts below.