Photo by Jane Gershovich/Jane G. Photography
By IVES GALARCEP
It was easily the best World Cup qualifying performance by the U.S. Men’s National Team during the Jurgen Klinsmann era, and the list of players who stepped up to deliver Tuesday night’s 2-0 victory vs. Panama is a long one.
From the intricate passing all over the field, to Jozy Altidore’s stellar work up top, to Michael Bradley’s dominant work in central midfield, to Fabian Johnson’s breakout game for the national team, Tuesday night was everything Jurgen Klinsmann could hope for.
No, it wasn’t all perfect. Brad Evans had his share of struggles, and Omar Gonzalez continued to work out the kinks as an international centerback, but there was very little to really complain about from the U.S. team against Panama.
Here are SBI’s USMNT Player Grades for the team’s 2-0 victory vs. Panama:
USMNT 2, Panama 0: SBI Player Grades
TIM HOWARD (6)
Quiet night for the U.S. goalkeeper. Panama never really threatened him until the very end, when he stepped up with a quality save to preserve the shutout.
BRAD EVANS (5)
Struggled all night long with speedy Alberto Quintero, but his teammates helped him out and he kept battling before eventually settling down.
MATT BESLER (6.5)
Another steady showing from Besler, who made the necessary interventions and provided a consistent passing outlet while circulating the ball well. Remains the best centerback in the pool.
OMAR GONZALEZ (6)
Improved on his passing and made plenty of strong tackles, though at times you do still see nervy moments. Panama playing with one striker made things a bit easier for him, but overall a match to build on for the Galaxy centerback.
DAMARCUS BEASLEY (6.5)
Panama generally stayed away from his side of the field, choosing to pick on Brad Evans more often, but Beasley met every defensive challenge and partnered perfectly with Fabian Johnson on the left side of the field. Even flashed his attacking qualities with some well-timed runs. The late yellow card rules him out of the Honduras match, but he has done enough lately to remain a key option for Klinsmann.
FABIAN JOHNSON (7)
Enjoyed his best game in a USMNT uniform. Joined the attack excellently, delivered a perfect cross on Jozy Altidore’s goal, and turned in some good defensive work. A complete effort and the type of quality we’ve been expecting from him since he joined the national team setup.
GEOFF CAMERON (7)
Another player who arguably enjoyed his best USMNT performance of the year. Cameron was omnipresent in midfield, making tackles all over the field and delivering the pass of the night to set up Eddie Johnson’s goal.
MICHAEL BRADLEY (7.5)
Absolutely dominant, Bradley turned his game up to a new level against Panama, driving the attack and joining with Cameron to not only stifle Panama’s offense, but spark the U.S. attack as well. Bradley completed 78 of 85 passes, just three fewer completed passes than Panama’s three starting central midfielders combined. You can make a strong argument for him being the best midfielder in CONCACAF.
CLINT DEMPSEY (6)
A quiet night by his standards, but he did keep the ball moving and helped put pressure on the Panama defense.
EDDIE JOHNSON (6.5)
Had a quiet first half, but stepped it up in the second half and scored a beautiful goal to secure the victory and give the Seattle fans in attendance a perfect cap to a dream night.
JOZY ALTIDORE (7.5)
Continues to erase the memories of his 18-month USMNT goal drought with his third straight game with a goal. More than the goal, Altidore really turned on the aggressiveness and movement and put the Panamanian defense under pressure for the better part of 70 minutes. One of his more complete national team performances.
BRAD DAVIS (NR)
JOE CORONA (NR)
STUART HOLDEN (NR)
JURGEN KLINSMANN (8)
Picked a perfect lineup, and watched the team play its most impressive match of his tenure as head coach.
SEATTLE CROWD (10)
Michael Bradley isn’t someone who spends a lot of time spouting hyperbole, and doesn’t give praise easily, so when he calls the atmosphere at CenturyLink Field the best he has ever seen for a U.S. national team game, it says quite a bit. The large and fervent Seattle Sounders fan base not only formed the foundation for an outstanding crowd, the city’s reputation as a great soccer town made this match a must-visit for fans from all over the country. The recipe delivered a night for the ages, and you can rest assured Seattle will be hosting important USMNT matches again in the future.
What did you think of the ratings? Who do you think received too low a great? Who didn’t receive a strong enough grade? Who impressed you the most on Tuesday night?
Share your thoughts below.