By IVES GALARCEP
The U.S. Men’s National Team’s 1-1 tie with Ecuador last Friday will forever be remembered as Landon Donovan’s national team farewell, but what was overshadowed a bit was the other purpose of the match.
Jurgen Klinsmann had his chance to look at several new faces, as well as some familiar faces in new roles. While Donovan flashed his quality one final time, there was a new generation of talent also showing off the skills that could help them one day try and rival Donovan’s unmatched national team career.
As a result, the 1-1 draw was a disappointment, but there were positives to be had. From Mix Diskerud’s second straight Man of the Match-caliber effort, to DeAndre Yedlin’s confident display in his first national team start, there were some good things to take away from the first of two October friendlies.
With a few days to reflect on the match, here is a look back at how the USMNT players fared vs. Ecuador:
USA 1, Ecuador 1: SBI Player Grades
Brad Guzan (6). Made some key saves in the first half to keep the Americans ahead, and stood little chance on the Ecuador equalizer given the speed and movement of the shot.
Timmy Chandler (6.5). Steady defensively, and ambitious getting forward. Hit some good crosses and had one memorable foray into the penalty area that ended with him going to ground.
John Brooks (4.5). Had some very shaky moments in the first half, which shouldn’t come as a shock given his lack of playing time at Hertha Berlin. Brad Guzan bailed him out on at least one occasion, though Brooks finished his appearance looking a bit more settled.
Michael Orozco (6). The steadier of the two starting central defenders, Orozco was tough, read the game well and was rarely caught out of position.
Greg Garza (7). Did everything you want a left back to do. He defended very well, provided a threat getting forward, and was there to support his teammates all over the left side of the field.
Mix Diskerud (8). His excellent finish on the U.S. goal was outstanding, but it was his play during the rest of the game that made you come away feeling like he is really blossoming into a starting-caliber player.
Alejandro Bedoya (5). Put in the usual defensive work, but didn’t have much of an impact on the attack in the first half. That improved to some degree in the second half, but overall it was a relatively tame performance.
DeAndre Yedlin (7.5). Played with confidence and purpose, and with the sharpness of someone who looked completely comfortable as a winger. He, along with Diskerud, were the U.S. team’s standouts.
Joe Gyau (INC). Showed some glimpses of his speed and attacking quality before suffering a knee injury that cut short his night early.
Landon Donovan (6.5). For a player playing in his finale, Donovan sure looked like someone who could still play for a few more years. His movement was excellent and he put himself in position for several chances. Saw one chance hit the post, one saved well and another go just wide. A goal would have been ideal to cap his finale, but overall it was still a positive performance to signal the end of an era.
Jozy Altidore (6). His combination play with Donovan had to make some U.S. fans sad at the thought of what might have been in Brazil, but Altidore was active, circulated the ball well and played the target forward role about as well as we’ve seen him play it in a while. Still not as sharp as he can be, but encouraging.
Bobby Wood (4.5). Was tempted to give him a lower grade given the wasted opportunities, but to create so many in what was his first significant national minutes is something. He’s still a bit raw, but you can see the qualities that have made him a prospect on Jurgen Klinsmann’s radar.
Omar Gonzalez (6.5). Came in and showed why he will probably be a regular starter in the coming cycle.
Tim Ream (5.5). Steady outing in limited minutes, though he might have wanted to close down Ecuadorian goal-scorer Enner Valencia a bit better on the equalizer.
Alfredo Morales (6). Buzzed around in midfield, putting good pressure on Ecuador in his cameo. A player who plays in a high-pressing 4-3-3 system in Germany, Morales should push for national team minutes in the future, and this appearance is a positive one in his development.
Joe Corona (5). Started off well, but eventually settled into a quiet night that was his second national team appearance that left something to be desired. Whereas Mix Diskerud has stepped up his game recently, Corona has almost looked timid.
Chris Wondolowski (INC). Not enough time to give him a grade.