By FRANCO PANIZO
A young U.S. Men’s National Team went into the Czech Republic and came out with a shutout victory, and there were plenty of impressive individual performances along the way.
From veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando to debuting youngster Joe Gyau to midfielder Mix Diskerud, there was no shortage of strong outings from American players in Wednesday’s 1-0 victory in Prague. Efforts like those combined with an Alejandro Bedoya goal in the first half paved the way for a U.S. win on European soil, and Jurgen Klinsmann likely took away many positives from the first match of the new four-year cycle.
It was not all good, however. Brek Shea’s accumulated rust was apparent during his second-half cameo and Joe Corona failed to make his presence felt despite starting the friendly.
Here is a look at how all the Americans fared on Wednesday vs. the Czech Republic:
USMNT 1, Czech Republic 0: SBI PLAYER GRADES
Brad Guzan – 6. Did not have too much to deal with, but was solid when tested from afar.
Fabian Johnson – 6.5. Got forward well to provide an outlet for teammates, pressed high when the U.S. didn’t have the ball and showed his usual silkiness on the ball. Still, there were a couple of occasions where he got away with some casual defending.
Michael Orozco – 5.5. The Puebla centerback put forth a defensively-sturdy 45 minutes in the first half and also helped the U.S. build out of the back with his passing before making way for Tim Ream at halftime.
John Brooks – 7.5. At the front and center of several key defensive plays, Brooks stood out as a cut above the rest of the U.S. defenders. He made a number of timely interventions, showed plenty of composure on the ball and looked confident, even taking an early shot from distance in the first half. He was part of a U.S. back line that surrendered a number of chances in the second half, but the flurry of substitutions played a key role in that.
Timmy Chandler – 5.5. Like Johnson, Chandler did a good job of joining in on the attack and showed some nice ideas in the final third. His final balls from the left flank were a bit of a letdown, however.
Mix Diskerud – 7. Started slowly, but settled into the game and came away with a strong shift that showed he can play deeper and cover for marauding fullbacks if need be. Diskerud came off in the second half, but only after pouncing on a loose ball that helped set up the Americans’ winner and showing he can serve as the link between the back line and the attack.
Joe Corona – 4.5. Had a chance to make a serious claim for more looks going forward, but was not able to capitalize. He looked lost in an ineffective three-man midfield deployed by Klinsmann before being subbed off in the 63rd minute.
Alejandro Bedoya – 6.5. Was in the right place at the right time to score the 39th-minute winner off a rebound, and put forth his usual blue-collared effort by making plenty of runs into space in the opening half.
Joe Gyau – 7. Gyau enjoyed quite a debut. The 21-year-old winger was fearless and not overcome by the moment, using his explosive speed and craft dribbling moves to motor down the right flank. He faded a bit in the second half, but still was one of the better U.S. players in this one.
Julian Green – 4.5. The teenage sensation showed a willingness to go at defenders but was not able to successfully pull off any moves. He looked lost during large stretches of the match, and hit a poor pass in the first half that the Czechs almost capitalized on. Additionally, his corner kicks were not well taken.
Jozy Altidore – 5.5. Serving as the point of the attack, Altidore was forced to hustle and use his hold-up play in order to make an impact. He also used his body well to draw fouls and ward off defenders, but he had no real scoring chances on goal because he was starved of service.
Nick Rimando – 8. The U.S. hero. He came on to start the second half and made a string of stunning saves to thwart several promising Czech Republic attacks. His customary quality distribution was also spot on.
Tim Ream – 5.5. Ream looked good in his return to the U.S. fold, but had a tougher 45 minutes to deal with than Orozco given that the Americans lost their rhythm a bit following the slew of substitutions made by Klinsmann.
Brek Shea – 3. Struggled make an impact after coming off the bench, which is not surprising when considering the lack of playing time he has had this entire year. The sharpness just was not there and neither was his decision-making.
Greg Garza – 5.5. Earned his first cap with the U.S. as a substitute and held his own defensively at left back, though he looked to have some trouble when challenged for pace.
Alfredo Morales – 5.5. Provided some much-needed bite in the midfield and connected his passes. Was shown a late yellow card for a smart foul near the sideline that killed a Czech attack that could’ve proven dangerous.
Emerson Hyndman – 6. Another debuting player who showed promise, the 18-year-old Hyndman showed some of the smoothness on the ball that has seen him start some games for Fulham this season. He had one bad pass at midfield that he shouldn’t have played, but showed tremendous poise to hustle and win the ball back shortly after.
What did you think of the individual performances in the USMNT’s victory against the Czech Republic? Who impressed you? Who were you disappointed by?
Share your thoughts below.