Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
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.