U.S. Men's National Team

USMNT 1, New Zealand 1: The SBI Breakdown


Once again, the U.S. Men’s National Team looked far from their best on Tuesday night and, with Mexico looming, the team faces several questions as the Hexagonal phase begins.

The U.S. sputtered to a 1-1 draw with New Zealand on Tuesday in what was another lackluster effort. Without many of the team’s key players, the U.S. rarely looked in sync. Sacha Kljestan, Julian Green and Matt Besler stood above the rest with impressive efforts, but the U.S. spent a chunk of the game on their heels against a New Zealand team that showed more motivation to attack as the game wore on.

With the Hexagonal just one month away, Jurgen Klinsmann now faces major decisions. While several newcomers shined, several familiar faces faltered, casting doubt over how the U.S. should lineup against El Tri.

Here’s a look at several takeaways from Tuesday’s match:


Tim Howard and Brad Guzan remain in a competition for the starting goalkeeping gig. This camp wasn’t about that. Klinsmann’s aim was to push one of his three young goalkeepers towards making that next step. One certainly did, making the goalkeeping picture a bit clearer.

Ethan Horvath was far and away the most impressive of the three goalkeepers called into camp. Against Cuba, the Molde starter generally looked confident and collected in maintaining a clean sheet. Was it against elite competition? No. However, the 21-year-old goalkeeper showed more than enough to justify further involvement.

William Yarbrough and David Bingham weren’t as good. The former, who earned the start on Tuesday, had some nervy early moments, even if one should have been called a foul. The latter let a goal slip through his legs, although he was screened, depriving the U.S. of the win. Neither looked like a goalkeeper ready to challenge Howard or Guzan, and neither looked like they were fully trustworthy enough to take the next step.

Yarbrough and Bingham will certainly get more chances as time goes on but, for now, Horvath looks to be the choice to join Howard and Guzan as the Hex begins.


Lynden Gooch had to sit patiently for more than a game-and-a-half, but his USMNT debut was worth the wait.

Gooch played 31 minutes in Tuesday’s friendly, and nearly made an immediate impact on a cross in from the right side. His crossing ability and work ethic served as two highlights for the 20-year-old midfielder, who showed well in his limited chances to get on the ball.

Overall, it was a positive first performance. There were no debut jitters or rookie mistakes. Gooch was consistent and composed, two characteristics that bode well for his future. His Premier League appearances no doubt helped with the acclimation process to the ever-changing international game.

It’s too soon to tell if Gooch will be a factor as the Hex begins. Several other wingers likely remain ahead of him, although standout performances over the next month with Sunderland could certainly go a long way. Still, Gooch showed why many believe he has a bright future in a successful USMNT debut.


The pair of friendlies provided a chance for several players to impress, but none did so more than Julian Green.

Two years have passed since Green’s famous goal against Belgium, and the 21-year-old winger spent a majority of that time far away from the picture for both club and country. After shining with Bayern Munich throughout the preseason, Green was somewhat of a surprise addition to the latest USMNT roster, but he more than justified Klinsmann’s faith.

After scoring and creating a goal against Cuba, Green was once again the USMNT’s most creative attacker on Tuesday night. His goal proved to be an impressive finish, even if the goalkeeping was poor to say the least. Green looked like an entirely new player, one that once again has the confidence to run at and beat his defender. His shooting also seems much improved. He’s clearly getting better.

Just how high Green’s stock has risen remains to be seen, but it is quite certain that Green has played himself into the conversation for a spot heading into the Hexagonal.


DeAndre Yedlin all but cemented himself as first choice right back during this summer’s Copa America. However, his spot is much less certain following several up-and-down performances.

Yedlin was played on the wing on Tuesday night, while Michael Orozco was given the start at the right back position. Pushed up the field for the first half, Yedlin’s pace was on display, while he did get a chance at goal. However, it still wasn’t enough to instill much confidence following a series of lackluster efforts. Since the Copa America, Yedlin hasn’t quite looked in-tune, and his push up the field could be a sign that the right back position is once again up for grabs.

Klinsmann hinted as much. The USMNT boss says its simply a reality that Yedlin “struggled” throughout the last two USMNT camps. With limited playtime on the club level since his move to Newcastle, Yedlin is under Klinsmann’s microscope heading into the Hex.

Orozco, meanwhile, didn’t exactly shine either. The defender had several mistouches and several poor sequences in the attacking half throughout Tuesday’s action. He remains a valuable defensive option due to his versatility, but Orozco’s performance on Tuesday did not offer many signs that he was ready to stop or threaten a team like Mexico.

With a majority of his club minutes coming off the bench or higher up the field, Yedlin’s time with the USMNT is even more valuable. He needs to step up his efforts with the USMNT or risk losing his spot as a fixture in the starting XI.

  • Gary Page

    Several options at RB. Chandler instead of Yedlin is one. I thought he looked okay vs. Cuba and even though that isn’t much of a test, he has been playing regularly for Frankfurt, so that’s a plus. Second possibility is to move Cameron to RB and then use Gonzales, Besler or Birnbaum in the middle. Another possibility is FJ at RB and then move Besler or Acosta to LB. Can’t say I’m thrilled with these options, but at least they exist.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Jack

    This is the 88th rank team we’re playing at home, so honestly not much to take from an average performance. Why are we playing scared that Yedln is an attacking player? I like Jozy but he if you get into his head early he just complains for 90 minutes. The midfield play wasn’t great and didn’t think Kitchen played all that well. Not all that impressed with anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnnyrazor

      Canada played in Morocco, which would have been blocked for us if we had tried to schedule that after the Cuba match. They had played Mauritania in Morocco on Friday.


  • milkshake of despair

    The SBI breakdown should discuss how we looked terrible for the second game in a row. Even if it was our B or C team, we should have shown better than we did. Just my 2 cents.


  • Brain Guy

    The game recap could well have been wrapped up after a mention of Yedlin in the midfield. That’s not his position. It’s going to affect the attack, and have ripple effects.

    Did I mention that Yedlin is not a midfielder?


    • Jack

      I agree, with all of Klinsmann’s talk about wanting the US to play more proactive, attacking soccer. He puts out such a scared lineup against the 88th ranked team in the world.


  • AMPhibian

    We aren’t actually playing this 433/451 against Mexico, are we?

    I think this was more of a smokescreen/exercise, and we’re actually going to look a lot closer to the team that played Cuba. Like this was to give Mexico a little more to consider, and to test the versatility and acumen of a few of the players.

    “Don’t even watch that Cuba game amigos, you can’t take anything away it because of the crumby pitch.”


  • AMPhibian

    GK: Howard, Guzan, Horvath,

    D: Johnson, Brooks, Cameron, Yedlin, Acosta, Besler, Orozco,

    M: Bradley, Kljestan, Pulisic, Gooch, Bedoya, Beckerman,

    F: Jozy, Wood, Green, Morris,

    Those are the players that we should definitely take to the next two games… but we’re still missing three.

    Chandler, Wondo, Zusi, Kitchen?


  • USfan123

    I have no hope in MNT under JK. I do not blame on idiot JK but Gulati. This guy is totally dumb-shit he hired an idiot.


    • chad

      He has the highest win pct of any US coach in history. I don’t agree with all of his decisions, but don’t be blind.


  • Buster

    I find it interesting that the article makes no mention on:

    1) How bad Bradley actually is these days. Not only is he a poor choice, he kills the career of those around him. He’s killed Mixx, Lee N, Nagbe and is now working on Sacha and Kitchen. He makes everybody look bad and insists on being in the middle of everything. Time to moive on JK… if you have the guts to do it. Give him a “landon”

    2) Jozy – How bad was he? Wll he did was whine all night. Cant dribble, pass, has no skill and isnt fast either. All he can do is finish others work once in a while. Not enough for my money and hes making Wood look bad


    • chad

      Yea, Bradley is struggling…though I don’t see many alternatives considering his experience. Jozy has skill, but has emotion/attitude issues. Once he starts whining like he does…it’s over for him.


      • chad

        Bradley gets the ball, turns in a confused circle…passes the ball backwards.


  • Ron M

    The US simply did not win second balls. NZ played with much more drive and grit. Very disappointing.


    • johnnyrazor

      Yeah I don’t know if it was the revamping of the roster halfway through the week, the long MLS season coming to a close, or the change of formation, but the whole group minus Green and Gooch seemed uninspired for much of the match, especially after halftime.


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