Top Stories

USMNT 2, Panama 0: SBI Player Grades

USMNT Lineup vs. Panama 2015.jpg (USA TODAY Sports)


It may have been against an understrength Panama team featuring some younger prospects, but Sunday’s 2-0 victory by the U.S. Men’s National Team was still a much-needed one.

Not only did it help snap a five-match winless streak that had spanned five months, but the win also helped Jurgen Klinsmann get a closer look at some prospects he hadn’t had a chance to see before.

Of all the new faces, none did more with their opportunity than Gyasi Zardes, who made his first national team start a memorable one. His beautiful assist set up Clint Dempsey’s goal, and his speed and movement on the right flank caused problem’s for Panama’s defense all day.

Some familiar faces also impressed on the day as well, with Jermaine Jones easing some fears about his play in central defense by turning in a solid outing (while apparently playing through an injury that later required surgery).

After having a chance to re-watch the match, and soak in the stats from the match, here are the SBI Player Grades for the U.S. team’s win vs. Panama:


NICK RIMANDO (6). Made one very important first-half save, and put forth a steady 45 minutes before being replaced at halftime.

DEANDRE YEDLIN (5). Panama’s attackers had success unsettling Yedlin, endured his second shaky outing as a right back in a four-man defense.

JERMAINE JONES (7). Thwarted a plethora of Panama attacks, and avoided the mistakes that marred his outing vs. Chile. His passing was much sharper, even if he did take some risks in the second half that he didn’t need to.

MATT BESLER (6.5). On a day when he completed all but one pass in a stellar display of distribution, it was an ugly turnover that nearly led to a Blas Perez goal that will stand out to some. Still made several key defensive plays, and his passing out of the back was excellent.

BREK SHEA (6). Wasn’t tested a ton by Panama’s right flank, but put in a healthy amount of defensive work. His passing was much better than it was vs. Chile, and he even hit a very promising cross, only to have Chris Wondolowski waste the chance.

MICHAEL BRADLEY (8). Best U.S. player on Sunday, though that shouldn’t have come as a surprise given the fact he is now healthy and has dominated Panama in the past. His Olimpico was a goal for the ages, and his positioning and use of the space left by Panama was impressive.

MIX DISKERUD (6.5). It is clear Diskerud was tasked with deferring to Bradley, so he positioned himself well to cover for Bradley and support Bradley throughout the match. He did this well, and while he didn’t get as much of the ball as some of his teammates, he helped provide the U.S. with precious balance in midfield. The real test of Diskerud’s fit with Bradley should come in the March friendlies.

CLINT DEMPSEY (7). His passing was sloppy at times, but his movement is always on point and kept Panama’s defenders busy throughout. His run and finish on the second U.S. goal were trademark Dempsey.

GYASI ZARDES (7.5). For a player without much of a track record a a right winger, Zardes showed an excellent understanding of space and where to attack the defense. His speed and confidence on the ball were impressive, and while he won’t provide many crosses as a winger, he showed an ability to combine well and make smart decisions in the final third.

MIGUEL IBARRA (5.5). There is no denying his hustle and speed, and he made the safe play almost every time, but he offered very little beyond the simple and struggled whenever he tried to do more. Offered no crosses, but his defensive work and positioning were good enough to mark it as a useful appearance, though far from evidence that he would be useful against better competition.

JOZY ALTIDORE (6). The 4-5-1 suited Altidore well, and the presence of Zardes on the wing allowed Altidore to float around in a wider space. His passing was much more efficient than it was against Chile, and he was a handful in the area on corners, helping play a small part in Bradley’s Olimpico by occupying the defender on the back-post.

SEAN JOHNSON (6). Very little to do for Johnson in his 45 minutes.

CHRIS WONDOLOWSKI (4). Painful to watch at times. Botched a clear chance in front of goal, then followed it up by missing an open Ibarra in front of goal. Looked frustrated from the start, and this may have been his last significant minutes for the national team. It certainly looks like it should be.

MATT HEDGES (6). Slotted in at right back and put in a ton of work in just 18 minutes. Actually made more defensive plays than Yedlin did in 71 minutes. Would have liked to see him at his natural center back position, but still impressed with the poise he showed in his first national team match.

PERRY KITCHEN (5.5). Very efficient 18 minutes in place of Diskerud, completing all but one of his 16 passes.

LEE NGUYEN (NR). Needed just a few seconds to show off his impressive skill, though apparently he didn’t do enough in camp to merit more than his 11-minute cameo. Completed every one of his eight passes, though none were forward.

LUIS GIL (NR). Tried to be aggressive and make the most of his nine-minute cameo, but didn’t make much of a mark.


What did you think of the match? Which player’s grade do you find too generous? Which player do you feel deserved a higher grade?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. OK a lot of first timers because its a non FIFA break and we got a Landon lover commenting. The USA has a lot of talent coming through just be patient and stop hating so early on in cycle.

  2. People who question what positions players play do yall realize that that the usmnt has a pretty strong nucleus with Bradley mix Emerson corona zelahem and Morales. So when jk takes central midfielders and plays them in the back four it because he wants to play out of the back and they don’t have very many defenders that have the skill to do that

    • Okay, if you want to play out of the back, you need to tell the players HOW you want them to play out of the back. Also, you might not want to put poor passers like Yedlin and Shea on the outside. Mostly though, you have to spend a lot of time practicing it and going through patterns. I question whether Klinsmann spends time on the how (tactical) part of the game.

      • You can teach them. You can show them as a world class player and IMO JK was world class. See goal v. US in 1998 WC…Anyway, it’s always up to the players to execute. Rimando botching that pass to Besler was tragic. A good team would bury that. Mexico would bury it. Panama is a middling team w/ two alright players. Better than Antigua, Barbados, Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, T & T. Belize, Haiti, and Cuba. Did I forget anyone? Probably.

      • That is exactly why I said above that I do not put the blame on Klinsmann for the poor possession in this game. It appeared to me to simply be poor execution.

        That said, in many, many of the other games during his tenure, however, I would say that it looked like Klinsmann should take a lot of the responsibility.

        Finally, how do you know that Klinsmann is teaching them? They do not seem to have a clear picture of how to play with each other. The rare moments where the teamed has attacked with any sort of dynamism have been with Landon Donovan on the field leading the way.

  3. The US looked absolutely horrible the first 30 minutes. Panama was probably the better team before Bradley’s goal on the corner, and that is not saying much. We still could not string more than three passes together, but this time Klinsmann does not deserve any of the blame. If you think the US looked better than 2-0 in their favor, I disagree.

    • How is it not Klinsmann’s fault if the US can’t string passes together? The inability to string passes together is a result of poor team shape and disorganization, both of which are coaching issues.

      • I kind of agree with you, but I think that is hard to say after this game. The team was in a traditional formation with most players playing in their natural positions. They simply did not pass the ball well.

        If you want to blame Klinsmann for this one (which I think you could, but it would just take a lot of speculating about things I don’t know about), you would have to say that the US players were poor with the ball because they were either fatigued from too much fitness and/or that they do not spend enough time with the ball at their feet in training.

        Both of these reasons fit in to the Klinsmann over training and fitness narratives, so it might not be that big of a stretch, but I feel like the players should have been able to overcome that given the formations and familiarity of their positions.

        Either way, it was not a great game from the US, and we desperately need to be able to possess the ball more effectively.

  4. Klinsmann got most of it right this time. I think he had the team prepared well. Outside of Zardes, the US was fairly pedestrian and lucky to win 2-0. Not a great game for the US by any means, but at least something they can build on.

    • Lucky to win 2-0? They had at least 3 or 4 chances besides the goals that should have been finished. It could have easily been 5-1, despite their lack of killer instinct in the second half.

      • I think we drew them and they only lost on PKs in 2005 and a Shea tap in last year. They gave us a game for 92 minutes but that game in Panama City was 94 minutes.

  5. I know he’s kind of a polarizing figure but I’ll be interested to see what Brek does this season. All things considered he showed better then most probably thought he would. Just getting minutes should help him read the game a little faster. Could still factors as a back up or late game sub in the Gold Cup.

    • read somewhere that he may even play LB for OC. I hope he does not, let him get his “mojo” back (lol) at LM/LW and try to stay in the NT picture…

    • I agree. Ive watched this guy all last year and he is far better than he showed in both games. In the Chile game, the team played most balls over his head. In Panama…11 friggin minutes? Did we really need to see Dempsey for so long? I think JK is not giving him a fair shot at all so far.

      I don’t know what they did to him in camp but he looked like a kicked puppy, afraid he would make a mistake. Maybe some time with his club will bring his MoJo back

    • Nguyen has done nothing in his limited minutes but show that he deserves more. His attacking creativity is tantalizing and it’s incredibly frustrating that Jurgen isn’t giving him more minutes.

  6. Glad Hedges got such a high rating considering only getting about 20 minutes and not scoring from a set piece…hopefully Klinsy saw enough to keep him in the plans for the pre-GC friendlies and the summer tourneys.

  7. Not only can Zardes cross, he can do it from both sides and do it as well as anybody in the lineup.

    We need somebody besides Dempsey to head the ball in. Wenger ain’t half bad.

    • Exactly this! That Besler turnover sits squarely at Rimando’s feet. He seems to be good for one boneheaded distribution per game that should be and probably would be punished by better opposition.

      On top of that I’m terrified every corner kick when he’s in goal. He just looks shaky. He may get on the end of the cross but it’s rarely a clean clearance or catch (see the punch that barely he barely got his fist on that only made it to the top of the 18 vs Panama)

    • Rimando did not look himself for either friendly match. Very shaky, poor distribution, and some bad decisions (beat near post on that Chile goal). I wasn’t sold on the high grade for Jones, but then I’m not sold on him as a CB. Yedlin’s grade was kind. Agree with the rest.

    • There were a number of very good chances created that on a different day could have made it 4 or More to Zero. Bradley nearly had one off Zardes chest pass, Wondo wiffed off a very nice Shea cross, and Jones got a clear header off a fee-kick that he hit right into the keepers hands. If this was a mid-season match or someone other than Wondo these would have likely been goals. Ratings were fairly valid except for Wondo and maybe Ibarra & Yedlin who were not very impressive.

      • Ratings are too high.

        Rimando and defenders were not really tested should drop .5, there was mistake by Rimando and Besler should drop at .5.

        Dempsey just score and Dempsey wasn’t the “hustle and muscle” like Altidore or that creative. Also, Dempsey got into that sally shove with Panama’s defender. So it’s more like a 6.

        Bradley did control the midfield but Bradley wasn’t that amazing. More like 7.5.

        Zardes did have an assist and dangerous, but at times he was headless chicken. Zardes was more like 6 or 6.5.

        Ibarra was slightly average performance, so his ratings is more like 6.

    • its been painful to watch him post world cup. Unfortunately, as good as he’s been in MLS i think most Americans will remember him as the guy who can’t finish, whether that’s fair or not

      • Well probably true on the finishing because most Americans should watch more MLS.

        I feel for him a bit, but I see it completely differently, I think he overachieved most of his career. Maybe even to the point of getting a call up for the World Cup that many in his shoes probably don’t get.

        If it is the end of the line, he is replaceable, but that is a good thing because US soccer is moving up very rapidly.

      • He’ll be remembered for his misses because they occurred in Tournaments that actually matter or could have made impacts to really help the Team. IE….The Gold Cup where he missed over the bar from 6 ft away, and the WC during the dying minutes of regulation in the round of 16.
        When you look at Wondo’s National Team history you see that he’s scored 9 goals in 27 matches, 0.33 goals per game. Nice statistic. But when you take 3 games out of the equation….3 Goals in 90 M against Belize (2013), 2 Goals in 31 Min against Cuba, and 2 Goals in 61 Min against S. Korea….his strike rate drops significantly to 0.08 Goals per game. 0.08 is the same approximate average as J. Jones, Onyewu, Evans, Kljestan, and Ricardo Clark.
        Compared to the numbers put up by other forwards/attacking Mids (Dempsey 0.36, Jozy 0.33, Donovan, 0.36, EJ 0.30, Gomez 0.25, Buddle 0.27) it shows tat other than 2 games against extremely weak CONCACAF teams and 1 Domestic S. Korea match Wondo has not produced at the International Level.

      • couldn’t have put it better myself, sir.

        the Wondo debate is over. congrats on a great MLS career, but the USMNT no longer needs your services…

      • you’re missing the point. He’s only taking out 3 of his 27 games (11%) away. In statistics these are called outliers, and often skew data. Lost in Space’s in-depth analysis accurately and fairly worked through the data to come up with an educated conclusion.

      • This stat means nothing unless you remove the easiest 11% of everyone’s games. And who really wants to do that?

Leave a Comment