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SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Joe Corona

Joe Corona


When the lineup was announced for Saturday’s U.S. Men’s National Team match vs. Cuba, the fact that Joe Corona’s name was in the squad came as somewhat of a surprise. While he did show better in the second half of last Tuesday’s win vs. Belize, Corona had gone two straight matches without delivering a complete performance.

Klinsmann chose to start Corona against Cuba anyway and the Club Tijuana midfielder rewarded him with his best USMNT match to date. Corona was one of the few players who played well from the very start of the match, and played his part in the strong second-half rally, scoring the eventual game-winning goal to cap a day that saw him earn SBI USMNT Man of the Match honors.

Corona was one of the team’s stabilizing forces in a shaky first half, then stepped his game up in the second half as the rest of the team elevated their game. Along with his beautiful go-ahead goal, Corona covered a ton of ground on the right side of the field, made key passes, and took the ball away from Cuban attackers.

Corona beat out a strong field of candidates for Man of the Match honors, including Kyle Beckerman, Chris Wondolowski and Landon Donovan.

Who was your pick for Man of the Match? Cast your vote after the jump:

  • Joe Corona
  • Kyle Beckerman
  • Chris Wondolowski
  • Landon Donovan
  • Jose Torres
  • Edgar Castillo
  • Mix Diskerud
  • Stuart Holden

Who did you vote for? What did you think of Corona’s game? What player surprised you the most?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Fantastic match from Corona. He passed well, played a tactical role with pressing, helped with his defending in wide positions, and scored a good goal. A complete performance.

  2. Seems like you’re defaulting the award to him. He had a lot of bad giveaways and he generally looks out of sorts. I thought he was nearly as bad in the first half as Shea was. The goal was nice but certainly unexpected given his play to that point. Honestly, Wondolowski played better than anyone else–nary a bad touch and was making smart runs from the moment he stepped on the field– but the temptation seems to be to give it to a player that started the match.

  3. Corona? Nice goal but not much otherwise not very noticeable don’t really remember him taking people on and blowing by them or anything special

  4. I’d like to know how many times Corona gave the ball away in the first half. There must be some stats on his performance. I can’t really remember anything positive from him in the first half. He almost stuffed Gomez on a clear-cut chance. Had a few bad give aways I remember, but his positive impact? I just don’t recall. Would like some empirical evidence.

  5. I gotta say Donavon showed why he is a player, he made lots of nice connecting p@sses and sent in some dangerous crosses. Also, he is a skilled player, maybe not able to pull off some of the special plays Adu can, but he displays the soccer brain to choose when to try something nifty and the good sense to recover and help his team, or make good simple plays when he could have tried something spectacular. I especially liked when his cross was grabbed by the keeper that he did not stand there admiring the play, but sprinted back 60 yards to stop a nascent counter.
    He is still slight and gets knocked to ground more often than I would like, but he is not a baby about it and gets back into the game with his head on straight.

    • Donovan is our playmaking forward. He would be paired nicely with a shooter or a forward who runs well off the ball. On the Galaxy, Robbie Keane is that shooter/runner off the ball kind of player. Donovan connects well on or off the ball with our midfielders and Holden and Mix show what can happen when we have midfielders who can make more than one type of pass. Holden and Mix simply work with the forwards with vertical ground/air passing.

  6. MOTM for me was Donovan. Actively involved the entire game, and the most consistently dangerous attacker.

    Honorable mention: Mix played lights out in my opinion. Moved the ball, controlled the tempo, switched the point of attack. Torres looked good, and the pass to Castillo to set up Wondo’s second was nice. Speaking of Wondo, two more goals and probably should’ve had 3. Beckerman did his thing today as well. Corona not bad, goal was very well taken. Castillo was an absolute menace going forward and was always willing to go at people. Love that. His defense was suspect though, not totally sure that’s what you want out of your left back. Left mid, yes.

    Ok: Stu, Beltran, Gooch, Orozco, Herc. Solid if uninspiring performances. Stu did play a couple pinpoint long passes though that made me stop and take notice.

    Un-MOTM: Shea. What was that? Wynalda said it well on the broadcast – if you can’t get it going against Cuba, who are you going to get it going against? Shea looked timid, his touch was off and his crosses were…. well, they kept the fans behind the goal entertained.

    • A team playing so far in there own half really doesn’t play to Shea’s strengths at all. Shea is best when perhaps the other team has a bit of possession. Then he can make those runs and find space. We saw a few flashes of it against Guatemala. No doubt he needs to get sharper on his touch and crosses but he still has skills we could use.

  7. Wondo, Donovan, Corona, and Diskurud are all contenders in my opinion, but I gave my vote to Beckerman simply because he has _so_many_haters_ yet he put in a solid performance, including the assist on Wondo’s first goal and several other dangerous, precise passes that coulda-shoulda been converted.

    • Yes. Any player who commits a turnover anywhere on the field during the course of the game should be disqualified from MotM consideration.

      • I’m just saying… Corona strike was a game changer and by far the best goal of the night. Everyone had a rough first half tho.

  8. Gooch was barely adequate. Orozco was ok. Beltran was ok. Castillo forgot what position he was playing sometimes.

    • I hope this apparently shaky defense is just a consequence of them getting so little defending time so far. Maybe once they really get tested they will gel…?

  9. Going into the next set of qualifying games I see Donovan, Holden, Diskerud, and Onyewu for sure. Could it be possible Wondolowski is included in that group? I hope so.

    • Wow. Sounds crazy to me. It can actually be hard to figure exactly how Donovan will fit — where he will go and who he will push out, etc — on the side used for qualifying. So to say that no only LD but also Holden, Diskerud, Onyewu & possibly Wondolowski are going to join him there… Have you forgotten that there is a limit on roster size?

    • Not so sure on Onyewu. Probably only one of Diskerud or Holden since they are up against Bradley, Jones, and probably Edu, hard to see 6 central mids on the team. (Of course, Bradley and Holden have and can play outside mids, but neither is really a great wing player).

      JK will have to decide between forwards as well, Altidore,Donavon, Gomez, Wondolowski, E Johnson and Boyd are all in the mix (Boyd’s most recent performance was uninspiring, but he is young, big, strong and will get better.) Of course Donavon could be considered an outside mid and he did a good job of that in the last 30 minutes today.

      • You may be forgetting Dempsey.

        Then again if MikeG has cancelled all need to decide between different players, it may not matter.

      • Let me know how long it takes you to hit your head on the wall before you decide it hurts? Before you do try to figure out if you want Eddie Johnson in midfield or Holden? Otherwise peace to you and happy trails.

      • Was responding to Dennis on that, you know, but from your comment here, you do seem to be getting the problem I pointed out with your original post. So that’s good.

  10. I think JK gets it! Envy is oozing through these comments. The USMNT has been on a tear (scoring wise) and people continue to not see what is behind the fast-pace attacking football. Diversity. The influx of Corona, Castillo, Rimando, Orozco, and Torres w/ Donovan, Wondo, and Co. has produced an aesthetically beautiful brand of football. If I were Mexico, I’d be on my toes.

    • Why not point out Diskerud and Holden as well? The biggest difference I am seeing is movement off the ball to support the player on the ball. The player on the ball is seeing more passing options. Pass and move (while trying to think one or two steps ahead). Also, we are seeing more variety passing from Diskerud and Holden..much more vertical through balls on the ground and air. Seen more chip passing from Holden and Diskerud. I love it. Tired of seeing Beckerman playing back passes when possession is not threatened. Beckerman needs to dribble more and find a more forward placed player. Not picking on Beckerman but add a few more weapons to your arsenal. Be a threat going forward.

      • Mix and Stu are great together, but Stu and Donovan share a brain. Hopefully we’ll get to see Stu, Donovan, and Bradley together (sympathies to Mix, but I don’t see how he takes a spot on that 2014 A team except as a sub).

      • Picture Stu, Donovan, Bradley, Dempsey, Altidore together. We finally have a group of players that combine well in close quarters.

      • The only thing that group is missing is strong wing play. It might get clogged centrally, especially when you add Jones to the mix. It would place a big premium on the outside backs getting forward to supply service from the flanks. In CONCACAF that might work well, but I do not know if the US has quite the talent to pull that off in Brazil.

      • Zzzzzzzzz. Attacking wing play is the only way those 5 will have any space in the middle. Fjohnson as lb or lm and whoever he pairs with will be the key to any WC relevance.

  11. The guy that made the biggest difference was Jose Torres, coming in for Brek Shea at Halftime. The US couldn’t find any rhythm or utilize that flank at all because Brek wasn’t sharp. If Klinsmann had left Brek in there, the US was looking at a draw.

    Jose Torres is my Man of the Match. Landon Donovan put in a full game of solid work making space happen for his teammates, but Torres changed the face of the American attack.

    The US center mids were very poor in playing the US’s up-tempo style today. Many times they lacked the awareness on the pitch to see the outlet pass or the long-through ball. Both wingers in the 2nd half were making great runs that the US middies wasted. Same goes for Wondo and Landon in the 2nd half. So many times they made a beautiful run into space only for Becks/Mix to pull up lame and turn their back to the goal rather than play the through ball.

    Mark my words, Clarence Goodsen will be playing the #6 role against Costa Rica.

  12. I don’t get all the comments here. Corona was a little sloppy the first 15 minutes but was awesome the rest of the way. Donovan was also very impactful and deserves consideration. Wondo had two great finishes but didnt do much else (still important, but he didnt do anything a number of the other strikers couldn’t). Beckerman was really solid in the 2nd half but struggled in the 1st. Diskerud really impressed me but didnt play enough minutes to be MOTM.

    • Wondo did a lot of running that pulled what was left of the Cuban defense out of shape. Too often, the midfielders did not reward his runs (or Donavon’s runs for that matter) with even an attempt at service. I am not sold on Diskerud, Beckerman or Holden being able to see teammates making good runs soon enough to provide the service they deserve, I think the jury is out on Torres in that regard as well, but he was less guilty of stranding the forwards.

      • I think your perspective is probably a little skewed from Wynalda’s commentary. He’s interesting sometimes but as a former striker himself, tends to be biased. There were several times when he screamed out, “great run! You have to get him the ball!” when it was pretty clear the midfielders were not in a position to make that pass or sometimes even in possession of the ball. I think if Wynalda had his way, his team would just be launching long balls at the strikers all day.

  13. All respect to Wondo for his 2 ruthless finishes, but the fact he should have had at least 1 more (probably 2 ) puts his success in a bit more appropriate perspective.

    Form what I saw the most influential player was Diskerud. He showed REALLY well, we’re Holden struggled a bit ( nerves is my guess). I think Mix benefitted from a waning Cuba, but the fact he came and immediately exploited that and started spraying the ball around the field like an old Tom Cat, changed the entire look of the US from meandering possession to lethal intent.

    To saying he was man of the match, but the fact he’s barely been mentioned I find disappointing.

    Torres played pretty well once Mix came in as well, no offense.

  14. Corona to me was underwhelming in the first half and felt that both he and Shea should have been taken off at halftime. Glad Corona had a better 2nd half yet I still am not seeing what all the positive buzz is about him. He doesn’t seem to be a great technical player and he doesn’t have the speed to get him separation from his opponents. MOTM for the whole game was Donovan but Diskerud really impressed me by moving the ball forward and getting the team to attack while also fulfilling his defensive responsibilities.

  15. I thought Wondo played fine but for me we were already winning and he came in and added some insurance goals. I’m fine with the Corona pick but I went with Donovan because I thought he was everywhere and made everyone else better today.

  16. Usually find myself agreeing with your picks, but this one feels off.

    I would’ve gone with Landon myself. He has just been immense in these two games (against minnows we should be thrashing, to be fair). Can’t see how he doesn’t make his way back into the full starting lineup.

    Today he was all over the place, the center of much of the attack, should have had a couple assists off set pieces if we hadn’t messed up the finish. He created the play that earned the penalty… I could go on. He was massive.

    • I completely disagree. He was awful in the first half, missing on just about everything. Corona served point blank opportunities to him on a plate on two separate occasions and he missed a third as well, all of which he just inexplicably whiffed on.

  17. The person that had the best, most complete game was Landon. Corona scored a goal, but Landon was active throughout and created lots of chances. Wondo should have had a had trick on a pa$$ from Landon late in the 2nd half

  18. Landon was clearly more influential in all areas today. from great runs, his trademark cheeky passes, clean PK, and even backtracking on occasion. Not taking anything away from Corona who had a great mini volley but Landon’s fingerprint was all over this game.

    • In that case, I vote for Altidore because he was the last USMNT player to dominate against a solid team (Panama), thus he is MOTM for the USA:Cuba match.

  19. To me, apart from Landon Donovan, I think Mixx Diskerud, when he came in for Stuart Holden, he stabilized the midfield by spraying balls with accurate passes (something Stuart couldn’t do in the 1st half). Most of the passes that Mixx made was forward, rather than backwards (at least 75% of his passes) & I think that is why Jurgen brought him in because Stuart couldn’t do it hence the tie game at halftime. Jurgen wanted an attack minded midfield so Mixx was his answer, he stabilized the midfield & that helped Kyle Berkerman have a better game in the second half because he sorta sucked in the first half. To me, Mixx was the man of the match for the second half but for the whole match, I’ll pick Landon.

  20. Corona was better today than the last 2 games, but MOTM?
    Prob gotta give it to Wondow, LD had most complete game for full 90

  21. Other than his goal, which was great, I barely noticed he was playing. He only seemed to give the ball away, more than complete p@sses to teammates.

    • Made a ton of fantastic crosses and was excellent in the air. Not sure how you didn’t notice him. Maybe the announcers were a bit lax in calling out the crosses.

  22. Wait, what?

    Corona was solid, but take away the wonder goal and there were several others who contributed much more impactfully.

    • But that’s just it, you don’t get to just ignore a goal when talking about the impact someone had on a game. If you care to argue that others were more impactful despite the goal, have at it, but don’t argue based on a hypothetical.

      • It’s not a hypothetical.

        Someone else scored 2 goals and was more than active the rest of the game. Donovan contributed much more through his constant pressure, smart play and p@ssing.

        Corona scored one goal–as many as 2 other players–and did less than them elsewhere.

      • By definition it is a hypothetical. Can’t judge a guys performance by ignoring his game-winning tally. If you do, then you’re invoking a hypothetical condition. For the record Wondo’s got my vote.

      • It absolutely is a hypothetical when someone says “Take away the goal and there were other people that were better”, because the goal happened, so evaluating the performance as if it didn’t is silly. Its man of the match, not man of the 89 minutes + stoppage time that exclude the minute where he scored.

        Your argument about who is deserving is fine, because it doesn’t attempt to ignore a goal that actually happened. I’m not saying that Corona was or wasn’t the MoM, just saying that you can’t just ignore the goal as part of the evaluation, which is exactly what “take away the wonder goal” attempts to do. Like I said, make the argument about how even with the goal, he’s not deserving, that’s fine. But you don’t get to “take away” a goal when evaluating the whole performance.

      • “It’s man of the match, not man of the 89 minutes + stoppage time that exclude the minute where he scored.”

        LOL. Spot on.

      • Donovan completely whiffed on three easy chances in the first half. Two of them on great pa$$es from Corona.

  23. I know I lose any twitter hipster cred, but give me Wondo. Came in an immediately picked up where he left off and gave us he cushion we needed

    • Yes. As Ives said, he’s really the only guy who played welll from the start of the match. LD had a great last 50 minutes but was really poor for the first 40. He missed a bucketful of easy chances including two from Corona that he completely whiffed on. He was very dynamic in the last 50 but you can’t ignore almost the whole first half. You could certainly give it to Wond who changed the game but personally, I’d rather give a MOTM to the guy who put in the best all around shift. I’m very impressed with JCs ability to cross the ball. Many of hismvpballs were inch perfect. Im also stunned by how good he is in the air despite notmbeing a big guy. He’s got a really nice all around game. He needs to work on his first touch but that should come with time and games.


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