By IVES GALARCEP
SAN FRANCISCO- It was by no means a pretty game, or one filled with highlights and reasons to get excite about the U.S. Men’s National Team’s chances at the World Cup.
That said, there were some bright spots, and some players who took advantage of the opportunity on a windy night at Candlestick Park to make their case for more playing time when the USMNT heads to Brazil.
Brad Davis helped his stock the most, coming into the match and making an immediate impact. Widely-criticized as one of the weak link selections by Klinsmann for the 23-man roster, Davis showed off his sharp crosses, corner kicks and set pieces and had a hand in both goals scored by the Americans.
Mix Diskerud also impressed with his quality on the ball, while Geoff Cameron was outstanding in central defense.
Here is a look at how all the Americans fared on Tuesday night against Azerbaijan:
USMNT 2, Azerbaijan 0: SBI PLAYER GRADES
Tim Howard- 6. Not an extremely busy night for him, but Howard made the saves he had to on his way to becoming the USMNT career wins leader.
Fabian Johnson- 5.5. Not his sharpest match. Wasn’t a liability, but didn’t offer as much getting forward as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing.
Geoff Cameron- 6.5. Extremely sharp, positioning was excellent and passing was top notch. Looks every bit a starting-caliber centerback.
Matt Besler- 6. Had some uncharacteristic shaky moments early but eventually settled down and had himself the kind of 90 minute match expected of a locked-in starter.
DaMarcus Beasley- 6. Handled himself well in 45 minutes of action, trying at times to get forward while facing defensive challenges with aplomb.
Alejandro Bedoya- 5.5. He was his usual active self, and had some encouraging moments, but consistentcy was lacking. Was deployed on both wings at times, though at times it seems clear he is placed wide for defensive purposes more than his attacking qualities on the flanks.
Jermaine Jones- 6. At times he showed his usual unwillingness to stay deep, but was a bit more disciplined than usual and provided a steady presence in the middle. Kept the ball circulating.
Michael Bradley- 5.5. Did well to impose himself in the attack early on, but couldn’t quite connect with teammates to break down Azerbaijan early. Committed some uncharacteristic turnovers.
Graham Zusi- 5.5. Flashed some good service, and put in his usual honest defensive work, but didn’t provide quite the impact you would hope from a presumptive starter. Might have cost himself some ground in the race for starting roles.
Chris Wondolowski- 5. You give him credit for putting himself in position for some chances, but he needed to do better with those chances. He also seemed a bit lost when the team was trying to combine in midfield, a sign of the technical deficiency he faces. Also had to be a bit unnerving to be thrown into the starting lineup just before kickoff in front of his home crowd.
Jozy Altidore- 5.5. No, he didn’t score, but Altidore put in a ton of dirty work, holding up the ball, drawing fouls and staying active throughout. He needs to sharpen up, no question, but for a first of four pre-World Cup friendlies (counting the Belgium one in Brazi), Altidore still has time to find the net and instill some confidence in a nervous U.S. fanbase.
Brad Davis- 7. Came off the bench and provided an immediate impact with his pin-point set pieces and a quality corner kick on Aron Johannsson’s goal. Showed the qualities that made Klinsmann add him to the 23, and may have even put some pressure on the starting wingers for minutes.
Mix Diskerud- 6.5. Smooth on the ball and creative as usual, Diskerud looked to press the issue in attack every time he got the ball. Was a bit fortunate on the goal, but still struck it well, and handled the pressure of the No. 10 shirt well.
Omar Gonzalez- 6. Didn’t hurt his cause with a solid 45 minutes. Wasn’t really asked to do a lot, but met every challenge that came his way.
Tim Chandler- 6. Extremely lively and showed off the speed he brings to the fullback position. Was more impressive than Beasley, though it did come in the second half.
Aron Johannsson- 6.5. Finished his header on the second goal very well, and was very active in his limited minutes. Continues to show well off the bench, and has the attacking qualities to push for a starting job before all is said and done.
DeAndre Yedlin- 4.5. Looked nervous and unsure, basically looked his age, but getting 28 minutes of international experience should help him settle down as the send-off series rolls along.
What did you think of the individual performances in the USMNT’s victory against Azerbaijan? Who impressed you? Who were you disappointed by?
Share your thoughts below.