USA 3, Panama 2: SBI Player Grades

US Men's National team vs. Panama


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It wasn’t the prettiest game ever played, but the U.S. Men’s National Team’s stirring 3-2 comeback victory vs. Panama will certainly go down as one of the more memorable. Not only because it helped save Mexico’s World Cup hopes, but because it also showcased the heart and determination of a group of American World Cup hopefuls.

On that rainy night in Panama, it was players such as Brad Davis, Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson who helped boost their stock, delivering plays that shook up CONCACAF and helped the U.S. finish with its highest point total in history, matching the 22 points put up by the 2005 U.S. team.

So which players impressed the most on Tuesday night? Here is a rundown of the SBI Player Grades for the 3-2 win vs. Panama:

USMNT 3, Panama 2: SBI Player Grades

Brad Guzan (5.5). Not his best game, but did come up with a big save to keep Panama from taking a 2-0 lead.

Brad Evans (5,5). Defended well for much of the match, but began showing weaknesses later in the match,

Clarence Goodson (6.5). Was very sharp passing out of the back, while also winning a solid number of challenges.

Michael Orozco (6). Wasn’t as steady in the back as Goodson, but sees his grade boosted by his impressive goal. Continues to show a good passing eye out of the back, and remains a viable centerback option.

Edgar Castillo (5). Watching him at left back is like riding a roller coaster. You get moments of fun, and then moments of sheer terror. His poor pass directly led to Panama’s first goal, but then he also helped clear one shot off the line and provided some threats going forward, including the pass that helped eventually set up the equalizer from Graham Zusi.

Kyle Beckerman (5.5). Was clean with his passing, but it wasn’t as imposing a game in central midfield as some of his recent efforts. Also got caught ball-watching on Panama’s second goal.

Mix Diskerud (5.5). Showed a few fancy moments, but he floated in and out of the match and didn’t have quite the impact he had against Jamaica.

Graham Zusi (6.5). Put in a lot of defensive work on the flank, but didn’t really impose himself in the attack until he stormed forward for the equalizing header goal that saved Mexico’s World Cup hopes.

Sacha Kljestan (6). In some ways he had a quiet game, but he actually covered a lot of ground and did a lot of work in the middle of the field. Known more as an attack-minded player for his club team, he showed an ability to take on a more defensive role, which could help his chances going forward.


Alejandro Bedoya (5). Didn’t really do a ton in the attack, and then struggled when shifted into a right back role he took a while to get used to. One of his worst showings, but not enough to cost him a place going forward.

Jozy Altidore (6.5). Put in a good shift as the lone forward in a 4-5-1, laying off good passes and proving a handful for Panama’s centerbacks. Didn’t find the net but showed some really good qualities that suggests his rough time at Sunderland just might be helping sharpen his game.

Brad Davis (7). The U.S. team’s best player after coming in as a second-half substitute. His pin-point deliveries on the first two U.S. goals were impressive, and his overall work was that of a player who plans on putting up a good fight for a World Cup place.

Aron Johannsson (6.5). Scored his first U.S. goal with a late dagger that sealed the victory for the U.S. Took his chance well

Terrence Boyd (6). Played just 14 minutes, but was very involved and delivered the pass that led to Johannsson’s winner.


What did you think of the U.S. team’s performance on Tuesday? Which players impressed you the most? What grades do you think were too harsh? Which do you see as being too generous?

Share your thoughts below.

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63 Responses to USA 3, Panama 2: SBI Player Grades

  1. Bac says:

    When Evans got his 1st start at RB, I like most, was shocked at the move & skeptical of the logic. After several games, I changed my tune & thought he played well & improved each game….
    Until the last 2 games…
    I thought he looked slow & his play took a few steps back
    And the Panama game was his poorest and I thought he was the weakest player on the field..
    A grade of 3 at best

    • Marcello says:

      I agree.
      Evans is like a temporary beam in a house that is being constructed…. He’s not pretty nor the final piece but is there to help get the job done until the right piece comes along.
      That being said, I have a hard time seeing him make the trip to Brazil; unless he’s there as reward for his services.

    • swoopy says:

      Evans did his job, helped steady the U.S. during qualifications, came up with a goalline clearance or two, and chipped in offensively, but he is absolutely not going to work in Brazil. He isn’t even close to the best U.S.-born right back on Sounders.

    • scott47a says:

      I’m a Sounders supporter and really want Brad to do well, but he looked pretty poor by the time he was taken off and I was glad to see him come off before someone slipped by him for goals.
      I just can’t imagine starting him at right back in the World Cup. I love the guy, but he’s out-of-position and outclassed. I might buy it if he was playing every game for Sounders at RB and getting a chance to learn, practice and improve. But that will not happen.
      Bedoya wasn’t much better. Team has a real weakness at that spot. FJ, Beas and Castillo can all make at least a decent argument at LB. But who is the right back?

      • Herschel skywalker says:

        Dolo, Lichaj, Spector, Cameron, Chandler, Yedlin, Etc, in order. RB is one of the US’s deepest positions. You may not like the overall quality, and apparently JK doesn’t, but we have a lot of guys in good leagues with plenty of either experience or talent who have played that position or actively play it every week. What JK wants is wing backs, or winger/midfield types with some attack as FB and our guys aren’t really that type. I also believe that JK wants converted defensive midfielders as center backs so that everyone on the field is more of a total footballer or at least has passing chops, but we don’t really have the guys for it, and I don’t think it works anyway. At some point you have to bring the wood, and a bunch of midfielders playing every position on the field (including forward) can’t do that. I miss Onyewu for that reason alone.

        • bryan says:

          have to slightly disagree. Lichaj, Chandler, Spector and Yedlin are absolutely those types of fullbacks. Spector less so but like we saw in the Confeds Cup, he can be more than capable getting forward from RB.

          Yedlin is clearly the perfect match for what JK likes, but he is very inexperienced obviously. Lichaj, well, we are all aware of the mystery surrounding JK ignoring him. Would love to see that change. And of course Chandler who is more than comfortable playing RM or RB. problem is, he had all his commitment issues and then terrible form. hopefully he gets back into it.

          and of course Dolo is more than capable…if healthy and in form.

          • KingGoogleyEye says:

            And Dolo gets forward plenty for the national team. His crosses are usually spot on, and he can drop them in the box from the half or from the corner. He’s not a wingback that will attack the goal himself, but he certainly will make overlapping runs down the wing.

  2. James says:

    I’ve actually been pretty impressed with Castillo in the last few games. As you mention, he’s a mixed bag, and prone to errors, but he adds a different dimension to our game. I really hope we don’t need to turn to him for significant playing time in the WQ, but I think he’s improved his standing this week.

    • sef-one says:

      I don’t know. Haven’t been all that impressed. I like what he brings going forward and thing his effort is there, but also think that Beasley has been sharper defensively as good at making timely/ dangerous moves forward. The run to the box in the Jamaica game is a good example.

      That being said there is something about Castillo’s demeanor that I like a lot and he took the elbow to his chest like a champ during the Panama game.

    • panchomiguelmoralesdeconejo says:

      Note that the offense in the last couple of games have all come from Castillo’s side. He had 62 successful passes in the Panama game, only Sacha with 58 had anywhere near as many. His ability o transition quickly into 3rd gear with the ball is impressive. It’s Castillo who SHOWS for a great ball by Sacha and then slides a ice ball to Davis for the Zusi Goal. Till then, I thought Zusi was really poor game – and no way would give him a 6.5 for that game, even with the goal.

    • bryan says:

      absolutely. Castillo was actually really good going forward. even his defensive stats were pretty good. problem is he made that mistake on the 1st goal which was bad. i don’t think he is a viable LB (and neither does he) but at LM, i think he could be a terror.

  3. Marcello says:

    I tend to agree with Ives’ Player grades. Especially with Castillo’s grade which seems fair. I thought he was good but quickly made a horrible error or two. Most sites have him as the worst player in the game. I agree that Castillo is so erratic in his performances. He just seems to lack the discipline and size of a pure full back but at the same time seems to also lack the offensive skills/speed to be used as a pure winger. I wonder if he were to make a move to MLS or to a mid-level European league would help his discipline a bit. But he seems to have a strange upside to his game.

    • Ben says:

      He is fast and can dribble, and you could almost gamble and live with the defensive mistake if he didn’t often create them by dribbling into trouble or errant passes.

      • David M says:

        You can live with that against the likes of Panama and Jamaica, not the competition in Brazil next year.

    • David M says:

      Castillo is a decent and at times creative attacker and a very poor defender, which should mean that he can’t play left back. He might be a good option coming off the bench as a winger .

      • McQ says:

        Tend to agree with you but if a solid defender first is what Klinnsman is looking for – Cameron would have been penciled in at right back long agoi

    • bryan says:

      agree with everything except the comment about him not having the skill set for LM or LW. he absolutely does. and that run he made cutting through the Panama midfield in the 2nd half showed it. as well as his hockey assist on the US 2nd goal. he caused a lot of problems for them.

  4. Ben says:

    Seems about right, except for Kljestan and Beckerman, who are rated too high for me. The center of the midfield struggled both defensively and linking up. I thought Kljestan in particular took way too much time on the ball and struggled to link up with the attack. Again, not enough to take him out of contention, but both of them looked poor to average against a middling, at best, Panama midfield.

  5. Ben says:

    I also though Bedoya might be a shade lower. He just isn’t a good enough when passing for me. I like the other aspect of his game, but when he has to make anything more than a simple pass, I get very worried.

    • Chicago Josh says:

      Too many attacks died with Bedoya: either too slow or poor dribbling and passing. It was infuriating to watch.

  6. Garth says:

    I see a lot of options all over the field with the exception of right and left back. I’m happier with Beasley than either Castillo or Evans, but first class attackers will eat them all up.

  7. ATX_Colin says:

    I thought Sacha had a terrible game, to weak on the ball for me.

  8. nic d "the tx 2 stepper" says:

    IVES (and company) Stop hating on “El Homie”!

    He is certainly a roller coaster but in the end no one was made to barf. We had a few ups and downs, some excitement and ultimately we will take another ride because for all of the terror the thrill is worth it.

  9. Scott e Dio93 says:

    The ratings are too high.

  10. Eurosnob says:

    Mexican TV announcers for their reaction to Zusi goal get a 10.

  11. Mark says:

    Ives, your ratings are consistently even-keeled. Every single rating is between 5 and 7. This is the equivalent of giving every player a 3/5 stars. We learn nothing. Use the 10 point scale to your advantage and inject some variability into your ratings!

    • Chicago Josh says:

      Mark, Ives helped me crack the code on the low end. Some of the worst performances we’ve seen in recent memory – think Shea against Cuba or Williams vs. Russia – were both rated a 3. To get a 2 or 1, you also have to get a red card or score an own goal.

  12. divers suck says:

    Since JK inexplicably didn’t call in Lichaj, Spector or Chandler, I’m hoping Dolo will be back for one last time at another World Cup. A 80-90% Dolo is better than anyone else that’s been out there at RB for the last WC cycle. Yes, that includes Cameron.

  13. Umlaut says:

    I thought it was interesting Klinnsman gave Bedoya a run at RB, it shows he’s still searching. What I don’t get is why he is beginning that search with Bedoya… Cameron, Lichaj and Chandler would all seem to be more logical choices, to name three. Of course if Dolo comes back in good form all this is solved.

    • ManicMessiah says:

      I’m not saying you’re wrong, but we were losing and had nothing to lose by losing more, so no reason not to go for the win by putting on another attacker.

    • bryan says:

      that was just a quick decision in that game with what he had available. i doubt he had any intent on playing Bedoya at RB unless something came up. in this case, JK needed someone on the left who knew how to use their left foot (Zusi and Bedoya were both awful on the left) but didn’t want to take away from the attack. i doubt we see it again.

  14. dude says:

    Castillo deserves a 3, up from a 2 for a few runs in the second half. Let Panama do whatever they wanted on the flank, culpable on both goals.

  15. Amru says:

    Can someone explain to me what kljestan does that so many of you rank him so poorly. Yes he lost the ball a couple of times but no more than say Jones when he plays, hell even MB90 loses the ball every now and then. Even then he won the ball back a few times as well and and spreads the ball around pretty well. I thought he played much better then Zusi overall

    • rainORshine says:

      the persistent disdain for kljestan – really for the last 5 years or so – is rather inexplicable. certainly was not great against panama, lost the ball a couple times, but he was very much involved on both sides of the ball the entire game and was ultimately a net positive.

      think Ives summed it up pretty well, gave a fair grade, and gave a summary and a grade that seems to be consistent with what i have seen from a few other reputable sources.

      hope to see him get some more minutes, with more of the starters, in november – get a better sense of how he might work with the full “A” team…

    • ATX_Colin says:

      Hes a turn over machine, more so than any of the others you mentioned. He tries silly things in the middle of the pitch that are not nescassary. He is very weak on the ball and gets pushed off it when doing said silly things. He is a weak defender. That being said I do recognize his good vision but it doesnt mean squat when you get over run with the ball more times than not.

      • ATX_Colin says:

        Also Jones and MB90 have the heart of Lion. Sacha reminds me of a doe out there, always prancing around.

  16. AlexH says:

    The defense got a combined average of 5.75 which seems a bit high for giving up 2 goals, especially because neither of them were “goal of the week” quality.

    • rainORshine says:

      agree. id put all but goodson down a notch or 2 (castillo). castillo for more of train wreck than a roller coaster. defending is an afterthought for that guy.

      as for his attacking… got to defend first, attack 2nd. and if you put that guy on a wing (like against guatamala in GC tuneup) he is going to look ordinary – like a defender trying to play offense.

      chris klute!

  17. Jeff says:

    Thanks for providing a fair & balanced view on things Ives. I can’t say I always agree with your ratings, but I respect them – and I especially look forward to your grades following matches (sometimes the anticipation is too much). I like reading yours a day or so after the match to let some of the snap opinions wear off and take an honest look at things. Keep it up!

  18. SanFran415 says:

    I think the last game clearly demonstrated that my boy Aron Jóhannsson should either be starting up top or our main option as a number 10. His passing, creativity, defensive pressure, and offensive abilities are a notch above Bradley. Also, he has hair.

    • John says:

      Perhaps he could play in a 2 striker system but he really has no hold up play making it difficult to see him a lone striker. Most likely I see him as a 10 underneath the striker. Also Bradley is a strange comparrison considering they don’t play the same position.

    • Solly says:

      We’re you in Alabama 23 years ago? Do you have blond hair?

      I think Mr. Johansen may want to have a word with you.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      so…are these the only comments you post anymore?

  19. jbfour says:

    Said with respect, because I really do appreciate the work you put into this site: I agree with Mark. Silly to call it a 10-point scale and have every single player between 5 and 7. Hope you don’t have that much trouble with commitment in the rest of your endeavors!

  20. Kingsly Alexander - Man Rey - Plotinus - Sankt Pauli! says:

    @Ives Concerning Castillo and our flank play,

    Castillo had 1 unsuccessful dribble the whole night to 4 successful dribbles.

    Do you know how many successful dribbles Zusi, Bedoya, Davis and Evans had combined? ZERO. Unsuccessful? 6. 1 for each besides Zusi who had 2.

    Castillo had 6 errant passes, 3 in his own half, to his 66 successful passes. Bedoya had 12 bad passes w/ 2 in his own half, to his 44 good passes. Brad Davis had 4 bad passes, non in his own half, to his 20 good passes. Brad Evans had 12 bad passes, 2 of which were in his own half to his 28 good passes. Zusi had 8 unsuccessful passes none of which were in his own half compared to his 46 good passes.

    Statistically, He was our best flank player on the night and our seemingly only player capable of creating for himself, something the US doesn’t have in abundance A, B or C team.

    He had errant passes, one which directly lead to a goal, but it wasn’t as if it was a daring misguided pass. It was directly into Beckermans path, he just didn’t go forward.

  21. UclaBruinGreat says:

    While Edgar Castillo might not be the best defender out there, I think he is our best TRUE LEFT-WINGER. He should start on the left-wing. Yes, better than F. Johnson and all the rest. Let me qualify this by saying that I don’t consider Donovan, Zusi, Bedoya or E. Johnson as true left-wingers, JK plays them out of position for the sake of getting as many of them on the field as he can. F. Johnson for me should be our starting left-back since he is better there than at left-wing.

    Left-Wing Ranking:

    1. E. Castillo
    2. F. Johnson/D. Beasley
    3. B Davis
    4. B Shea (in a perfect world; a fit and healthy Shea, that is actually getting playing time in the EPL, would be our clear cut #1)

    Jurgen Bizarro World Left-Wing Rankings:

    1. F. Johnson
    2. Donovan
    3. Zusi
    4. Dempsey/E. Johnson tie (Johnson has more speed. Clint is the captain, and played left-mid at Fulham, sometimes Tottenham, and under B Bradley, but JK sees him as withdrawn forward. This might change with the arrival of Iceman though)
    5. E Castillo
    6. B Shea (a healthy Shea is an automatic call-up for JK. He must like the hair)

  22. Kingsly Alexander - Man Rey - Plotinus - Sankt Pauli! says:

    Omg Brad Evans a 5.5 and Castillo a 5.

    Your fu****g loosing it. But in your defense everyone in the American soccer media soccer landscape is giving him really low grades.

    Galarcep, you know that scene from Boyz n the Hood with that black cop hassling that black kid telling he’s a such and such…yeah

  23. KingGoogleyEye says:

    That team photo looks like they were Photoshopped in. I expected to see the Tower of Pisa in the background.

    Oh, and Brad Guzan, Brad Evans, and Brad Davis? No, you can’t have three Brads. One or two maximum. (And with Michael Bradley as well, make that just one Brad.)

  24. PD says:

    The one grade that’s missing:

    The “new” US soccer logo on the jersey:

    Please, uniform Gods, DO NOT go back to the old badge for the next kit design…

  25. shuttlehead says:

    No No No No.
    Castillo was not culpable on that goal. I’ve watched that play 30 times at least. Beckerman shows he’s going to make the run. Castillo lays it out for him into space perfectly…and then Beckerman pulls up short. If that were Bradley or Jones (or any slightly offense-minded Mid) they make that run and have the ball in space and the break is on.

    That turnover was 100% on Beckerman, but it is Castillo is getting the blame.

    • Smacking says:

      Castillo’s pass is to far out in front of Beckerman, that’s why he stops his run. Beckerman doesn’t help the play by not immediately squaring up to the attacker, but Castillo is again at fault when he doesn’t react when Beckerman pulls up and the turnover occurs. Instead he watches as his mark moves in front of him. Not staying goal-side of your man is defending 101.

      On the second goal he is slow to close down the wide attacker, giving him time to get in a couple of settling touches and assess options.

      Don’t get me wrong Castillo generally adds to the attack, but he has liabilities defensively both with marking and with higher risk play out of the back. Appreciate that he brings something different to the table, but he’s not a complete player. Few outside backs are.

      • Kingsly Alexander - Man Rey - Plotinus - Sankt Pauli! says:

        He doesn’t close him down because he more focused on pinching in and getting in sync with the line. Then he goes at the defender. Lol, it’s Beckermans mans that get past him for the goal when he isn’t looking anyways so wif.

        Also on the first. He’s played that ball into space. Beckerman doesn’t go after it, because once he realized it’s played his reaction to it is too late to then he chooses not to, not because it was too out in front of him. If he would of pushed forward right after he would of had it in his feet.

  26. Just the Facts says:

    I have re-watched and taken notes of every defensive mistake in 2013. I will list the defenders with the least mistakes in 2013 if anyone is interested.

    • Dennis says:

      Will that be mistakes per 90 minutes? It would be interesting to see, it is at least an attempt to uncover the facts and facts are such stubborn things.

      Of course, in some situations whose mistake was costly, whose mistake was overlooked, whose mistake was not a defensive mistake, but a turnover at a bad time or place and whose mistake was trivial are things that can come under the heading of opinion.

      Still it would be nice to see your compilation.

    • Ben Davidson says:

      very interested…
      what qualifies as a mistake? Does clearing the ball when a pass was available qualify?
      not sure of the basis of your analysis but I would guess it would go something like this
      1. Besler
      2. Evans
      3. Beasley
      4. Evans
      5. Goodson
      6. Orozco
      7. Castillo

    • Just the Facts says:

      I analyzed every defensive mistake in 2013. A defensive mistake is defined as an action or inaction on the player’s part that was the root cause of the opponent’s ability to potentially create a goal scoring opportunity. Sometimes a goal was allowed, but most of the time it was a scoring threat.
      Least defensive mistakes:
      1. F. Johnson 0.10 mistakes per 90 minutes
      2. Parkhurst. 0.10
      3. Goodson. 0.15
      4. Besler 0.35
      5. Beasley 0.66
      6. Cameron 0.66
      7. Gonzo 1.00

  27. Nathaniel says:

    I think we are all forgetting one major factor in the US team’s play: Panama. Panama was fighting for their life, playing their absolute hardest, and the US team, while not dormant, simply did not have that kind of raw motivation to win the game. I think most of the team did a solid, not spectacular, job, but that if the roles had been reversed we would have seen a much more aggressive and goal-hungry US side.