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USA 2, South Korea 0: SBI Player Grades

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The U.S. Men’s National Team’s first match of 2014 produced a victory, and some goals, but the overall sense after the match was that there were as many question marks as questions answered from the match, which was much closer than the scoreline would indicate.

South Korea gave the U.S. fits on the counter, and poor finishing for the visitors had as much to do with the shutout as the American defense did.

There were clearly bright spots though, including the performances of Graham Zusi, Chris Wondolowski and Kyle Beckerman. The showing by Michael Parkhurst at left back may have been the most encouraging showing of the bunch, especially given the few left back options in the pool.

There were also some forgettable outings, including Brad Evans’ poor outing at right back, which has to have Jurgen Klinsmann reconsidering his options at the position.

Here are the SBI Player Grades for the USMNT win vs. South Korea:

USA 2, SOUTH KOREA 0: SBI Player Grades

NICK RIMANDO– 6. Made some key stops and was active in the area.

BRAD EVANS- 4. Struggled the entire match. Beaten defensively and ineffective getting forward.

OMAR GONZALEZ- 6. Dominant in the air, and was responsible for a heavy amount of distribution. Some passes were sloppy, but overall a solid effort.

MATT BESLER- 5.5. Made some important interventions, but also had some uncharacteristically bad passes and wasn’t as involved as Gonzalez.

MICHAEL PARKHURST- 6.5. Very steady showing for Parkhurst at left back. Defended well and moved the ball well offensively. Encouraging outing.

KYLE BECKERMAN- 7. Really commanded the middle of the park. Circulated the ball well and made some important tackles to slow down South Korea’s dangerous counterattack.

MIX DISKERUD- 5.5. Started the match very well, making some key tackles and passing well, but eventually faded into the background and failed to truly stand out in a game that was tailor-made for him to shine.

BRAD DAVIS- 4.5. No denying that Davis was active, and covered a lot of ground, but he was way too sloppy with the ball, committing some awful turnovers that left the U.S. defense in bad positions.

LANDON DONOVAN- 5.5. Active day for the U.S. captain, helping set up the second goal with a nice layoff touch. Looked comfortable in his playmaking role, and his captain’s role.

GRAHAM ZUSI- 7. Played a key role in both goals, looking very strong on the right wing. Covered ground well and turned in yet another stellar performance.

CHRIS WONDOLOWSKI- 7. Opportunistic on his first goal, clinical on his second goal. Wondolowski wasn’t extremely active beyond those two plays, but you can’t argue with two goals.

EDDIE JOHNSON- 5. Came in and got his share of touches, but couldn’t really put anything on goal.

BENNY FEILHABER- 5. Showed some good quality, but didn’t really threaten.

CLARENCE GOODSON- 5.5. Had more clearances in his cameo than Besler had as a starter. Solid outing in his 28 minutes.

LUIS GIL- NR. First cap for the RSL midfielder. Some decent touches.

DEANDRE YEDLIN- NR. Very active 16 minutes for the Seattle fullback


  1. Did anyone else get the impression that JK told Rimando, “Every chance you get, pass the ball directly to a defender near the top of the box and see if he can start a play from the back”? I saw what I thought to be an inordinate number of dangerous exchanges back there when Rimando probably could/should have tried a longer kick or throw.

  2. Will someone please tell me if there will be schedule games in May preparing for the World Cup. The starting team , as far as I know , have not played together. How is that possible ? Most of our games were used to find new talent. When will the first team play together ? Ghana ?

    • Expect 80-90% of the final roster to be present during the March Friendly in Europe.
      Then there will be 2-3 pre World Cup tune up matches in the US, with up to 30 players called in, and likely 1 in Brazil before we have to face Ghana.

  3. Part of me wishes that the january camp could be an all in-house affair. Bring EVERYONE in and showcase everyone three strings deep (call them the Red White and Blue squads). The month long camp can be for out of season or prospect guys as well as lion in winter types who can offer locker room leadership and great war stories.

    Then have a round robin mini tournament of games/scrimmages with those three teams. The best players of the those three teams them get selected to play against our A side (Called the Stars Squad — see what I did there?) that only flies in two or three days before the match. That way, guys earn their “stripes” going toe to toe against the person ahead of them on the ladder.

    Save the internationals here on out for the 23 projected to go to Brazil.

    We’d talk about those matches for months.

  4. DEANDRE YEDLIN- NR. Very active 16 minutes for the Seattle fullback


    16 minutes is more than enough time for a rating. And if all you can say is “active,” then the grade should be low. Very low in fact because he was active for all the wrong reasons.

    • I’d say Yedlin was so out of place that he made the awful Brads, Brad Evans and Brad Davis, look merely mediocre by comparison. Of course one is a young kid and the other two are seasoned veterans. Let’s hope to not hear Yedlin’s name again until 2015, and to never hear about Evans or Davis again.

  5. I thought Yedlin looked like frantic boloney out there. There are plenty of right backs that should have gotten the chance over him, in my opinion

    • Kyle, come on, go easy on the kid. First cap… adrenaline probably cascading through his veins… I’ve seen enough of him as a Sounder to think he, at least, deserves a second chance… I’ll bet that he comes back more comfortable and poised if he gets it.

    • Hes 20 and this is a friendly, I’m not sure what the harm is at all in giving him the cap, also who are these other options you speak of? We can’t pull people from Europe (excluding Scandinavia) because its not a FIFA date so all of those players are ruled out. I’d take seeing an exciting young talent (gil or yedlin) over the same recycled players who are just mediocre.

    • he was fine. nervous for sure, but it’s his first cap. he’ll likely get a bigger role in the Mexico game. then we can see how he matches up.

    • I got an up-close view of him, my seat was very close to where he played for his 15 minutes or so. You could see him bouncing around in warm ups. He was excited and nervous. He was definitely timid on a few plays. Had a chance to be aggressive going forward on one play and instead chose to be safe and cover his defensive responsibility. He really hesitated too long to step up on the Korean LW a couple times and paid for it when he did try to engage. He isn’t going to be ready for 2014 World Cup. He has too much to learn, but I like giving him a shot in a January friendly to get a taste of International soccer. Good luck to him!

  6. IMO Evans, Parkhurst, & Davis had the worst performances of any of the US squad. To give Parkhurst a higher rating than Donovan (who did more defensive work that Parkhurst, and contributed to the attack more) seems to me that someone had rose colored glasses on…or graded Parkhurst on a curve due to his gameday rust.

    • I was wondering the same thing. Both Mix and Besler got 5.5 and mixed reviews while Donovan got a 5.5 and a positive review. Is that just because more expected from Donovan?

      • If more was expected of Donovan, at 5.5 he would be roasted. Donovan played poorly. He was our captain and supposed to be the creative outlet for our wingers and forward. He played better as a defender than he did an attacker. I still think he starts in the hole come June, but by then he’ll be in mid-season form and ready to take it to Ghana.

      • LD is ill suited to play in the hole against organized defenses

        the data on this over his career is pretty clear

      • You guys realize that he set up both goals right?

        He was basically playing a box to box forward because Mix was back so far.

      • I’m hopeful he can step up and continue to evolve right thru to the end of his career and do it in whatever role Klinnsman deploys him in on the grand stage this summer

  7. “Had more clearances in his cameo than Besler had as a starter. Solid outing in his 28 minutes.”

    that is from above. this is from mlssoccer:

    “Clarence Goodson (6.5) – As soon as he came on, the US defense calmed down. Goodson notched more clearances in 28 minutes than Gonzalez did in 90.”

    so basically you all are saying Goodson was better than both in his 28 minutes?

    • Gonzo and Besler were shaky in terms of give aways.

      Which is ironic given that that is exactly what JK said he wanted defenders who were calm on the ball and would do intelligent things with it as soon as they got possession.

      • how many of those giveaways are on the midfield for not aggressively showing for the ball in the first half? if Klinnsman announces to the world before the match that we intend to play on the ground out of the back then the midfield needs to show up wanting the ball every single possession. it took 35 minutes before they started doing it, and Klinnsman was up off the bench pointing and directing them

      • Before MBTFC went to Italy a lot of y’all were saying how he could not pass the ball to save his life. This was news to me. I saw him do quite well in that department when he was at BMG.

        Mikey has served up his share of hospital balls on USMNT duty but his bad rep in that area before Italy seemed to me to were at least partly due to a lack of good options.

        Bearing in mind that I don’t believe in mind reading, is a “bad attempted pass result” the fault of the passer or the player who is receiving the pass?

        I’ve seen Gonzo and Besler make their share of bad passes. I think the label of “bad passer” or “bad at showing for the ball” is for the most part, a popularity contest. Completing a pass successfully is primarily a team effort requiring a good performance by at least two if not more parties.

  8. Evans and Davis struggled which put too much pressure on Besler and Gonzalez. Put Chandler /Cameron on the right and FJ on the left. Klinsy will never put Evans and Beasley/Davis against a side like Portugal as starters. Chandler faces the best in the German league. He and Cameron can frustrate Cristiano, especially Chandler; also, others like MB and JJ. Chandler is a tank and fast as heck. If Chandler is healthy and on form, I give the U.S. a good shot against Portugal.
    Like to see LD and Zusi start together with the full MNT and see how it goes. i also want to see an on form Parkhurst. He did well for riding the pine for so long for club.

    • “Chandler…Chandler…Chandler…If Chandler…” Chandler isn’t in the picture, and I highly doubt that he is or ever will be the linchpin in Klinsman’s plans for success against Portugal.

      • With the way that Cameron and Chandler are playing, it is criminal to think that JK will start Brad Evans in front of them at the WC.

        Cameron just had a good showing against Manchester United. Chandler just made the Bundesliga XI of the week.

        If Chandler keeps killing it until March, you have to give him a call. I don’t care if he’s not JK’s buddy-buddy. Work it out and get him in.

      • Chandler is very much back into the picture. he will be called up in March. the guy is in great form right now in a pain-position for us.

    • +1. Felt extremely unimpressive, Evans was horrible, sloppy in the back, lack of ideas in the final third…but yet the US won comfortably 2-0.

      This is a what a good team does, even when they unimpress, win easily against a mismatched opponent.

  9. Seemed to me (I was at the game) that Mix was playing either beside or behind Beckerman, when I’d thought he’d do better playng higher up the field. Anyone else think the same thing? Admit I’m big fan of Mix as he reminds me of my sons when they playing/that age,

    • I agree…Mix was playing way too withdrawn, I know he was trying to link the game play, but, he would have been better served staying more forward, generally I think that Beckerman would be his ideal partnership because, KB can pick a pass and that would allow Mix to float.

      • I’ll respectfully disagree with that

        the US couldn’t initiate and build their attack until Mix started dropping back to facilitate, around the 35th minute 1st half; before that the US mids were hanging the backline out to dry by not showing for the ball at all

      • Agreed, Mix is a a facilitator, and he can’t do that if the ball doesn’t go beyond the midfield. Over all, I think these grades are fair. We have to keep in mind that JK is still trying to find his 23.. Lets Go You Yanks!!!

    • Beckerman was playing the DM role. Mix was trying to play the Carrick/Pirlo role of sitting back and pulling strings. Unfortunately for Mix, he doesn’t yet know how to do that. He’ll figure it out; he has all the right talents. He needs to work on his long passing though.

      Mix wants to play a quick passing, possession game – which is also what Klinsi wants to play. However, most of the guys he was playing with don’t understand that. What I saw from Mix was quick passes and him moving into space, only to be ignored for the long ball which ended up back in South Korea’s possession.

      In order for a player like Mix to be successful, he needs to have players who think and move as fast as he does. Mix barely gets caught with the ball at his feet; he’s always looking around and knows where he wants to pass before it gets to him.

      Alongside Bradley, I think Mix would perform better than Jones. Next cycle, I expect those two to anchor our midfield. For now, Jones and Bradley will be our starters – and that’s fine because the two of them are starting to figure each other out.

      I wouldn’t judge Mix on this game. I’d blame those around him more, who either hugged the endline or didn’t provide him with a smart target. Here’s looking right at you Landon!

      • I think after the 2015 Gold Cup the US Team will switch to more of a
        4-3-3 formation….
        F. Johnson——Besler——-Gonzalez—–Chandler
        Gatt, Gyau, Shea, Boyd, Lichaj, Klute, Brooks, Packwood, Corona, Gil

      • As much as I like Bedoya….I think you youth coming up will likely push him out of discussion come 2018. He’ll likely be one of the last players taken or cut from the squad since he’ll be 31 by then.

      • I’d say Gyau & Gatt are on equal footing. Both are young (21) and have talent. Gyau has showed well with youth national teams, and was/is doing well in the German 2nd division. I still have hopes he’ll turn into a good player.

  10. Evans was particularly bad, but Parkhurst was not a wonderful as Ives has rated him here. It was an “okay” performance. I was sitting on his sideline in the first half and he had some good moments but his lack of a strong left foot really showed. He has a great opportunity flubbed by that lack of a left foot. Playing left back without the ability to cross with the left is a major problem.

      • I was sitting in the stands on his side at the start of the match. Wasn’t impressed. Was owned mostly in the first half. Wasn’t tracking back quick enough. Not paying attention on a few occasions caused turnovers. Mediocre at best IMHO.

    • Not to defend either Evans or Parkhurst, but Davis and Zusi didn’t really help them out too much. Both Davis and Zusi left the outside backs exposed quite often. Part of a good defense is the MF helping out. IMO they didn’t do a lot to help out the backline.

    • He was so impressive in his 5 minutes or so that Ives completely forgot to include him.

      Most likely he would get an NR as he didn’t play enough to get a rating.

  11. I appreciate the solid contributions Evans gave the squad in qualifying, particularly the gamewinner in Jamaica, but I think it is clear that he will not be able to get it done as a starter in Brazil. I would rather him not even be in the squad, but I think he will because Klinsmann still trusts him, despite a few shaky performances in a row now.

    • I really hope Klinsmann starts Cameron at RB when he’s on the roster. I think he is the only option we have at the position that even has a slim chance of slowing Ronaldo down. Not stop him, but hold him to 1 or 0 goals that is.


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