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USMNT Player Ratings: Robinson, Turner and Acosta deliver gems to close strong Gold Cup

Sunday’s Concacaf Gold Cup final was one for the ages, and one of the most significant victories by the U.S. men’s national team in the history of its rivalry with Mexico.

That victory came on the strength of a plethora of inspired individual performances, and as much as the collective effort of the group is what helped the Americans overcome a more talented Mexico side, there were clearly players who were at the forefront and others who endured challenging nights.

Miles Robinson and Matt Turner were excellent yet again, as they have been all tournament, while Kelly Acosta put in another dominant shift in the defensive midfield role

We also saw the team’s youngest players shine, as both George Bello and James Sands were excellent and Gianluca Busio played with confidence and purpose off the bench.

Bello was one of Berhalter’s lineup surprises and he rewarded his coach’s faith with a strong shift, as did Eryk Williamson, who earned the start and did his part to help neutralize Mexico’s vaunted midfield.

Who were the top performers for the USMNT on Sunday, and who was left struggling? Here are the SBI USMNT Player Ratings for the 1-0 win vs. Mexico:


Matt Turner (8)


Made multiple saves on Rogelio Funes Mori and was once again supremely steady, and his long balls to Gyasi Zardes helped alleviate pressure from Mexico.


Reggie Cannon (6.5)


Didn’t have the best night passing the ball, and he had his hands full trying to deal with Jesus Corona, who produced five key passes on the night.


James Sands (7.5)


Another strong shift for the young defender, who produced a whopping 12 clearances along with seven recoveries. His passing was sharp as usual, as he completed 60 passes.


Miles Robinson (8.5)


You name it, Robinson did it. The Atlanta United defender delivered 11 recoveries and won seven duels, making things difficult for Rogelio Funes Mori before capping the night with the winning goal.


George Bello (7.5)


The surprise starter at left back, Bello was a revelation, helping contain Mexico’s right flank with his speed and aggressiveness. The 19-year-old won seven duels and was a persistent pest for the Mexico attack.


Kellyn Acosta (8)


Saved his best match for the final, where he was everywhere. Acosta finished with a jaw-dropping seven interceptions, seven duels won, eight recoveries and three clearances. Offensively, he delivered the game-winning assist.


Eryk Williamson (7)


Berhalter brought in Williamson to give the midfield some bite and the Timbers standout delivered it, winning eight duels and adding nine recoveries. Didn’t have as much of the ball as you would expect, but still a strong overall shift.


Sebastian Lletget (7)


Deserved an assist with the beautiful setup that Paul Arriola missed, but Lletget had much more to offer, both offensively and defensively.


Paul Arriola (6)


The missed chances are what people are going to remember, but that does a disservice to his overall contributions and ability to keep putting himself into dangerous spots to unsettle Mexico’s defense. Arriola also did a ton of defensive work, pressing all over the field.


Gyasi Zardes (6.5)


He wasn’t able to score a goal, but Zardes put in a ton of work, but in terms of pressing and winning long balls up the field as Turner and the USMNT defense tried releasing pressure by finding Zardes.


Matthew Hoppe (6)


Another active showing for Hoppe, who finished with six shots, including one miss he’d like to have back, and played all but one of the 120 minutes.


Sam Vines (5.5)


Came on in the 65th minute and turned in a solid stint, although he wasn’t as effective getting forward.


Cristian Roldan (6)


A tidy shift, though it was fairly quiet compared to some of his other performances off the bench.


Shaq Moore (6)


Came on in the 65th minute and helped bring some fresh legs and defensive intensity. He finished with five recoveries and was involved in 10 duels.


Gianluca Busio (6.5)


Came on in the 87th minute and gave the USMNT some precious possession and even delivered some promising passes to unlock the Mexico defense. To see someone just 19 come into a tight game like that and look so comfortable was impressive to see.


Nicholas Gioacchini (6)


Came on and delivered the same kind of energy and effort that has made him such a useful option off the bench.


Henry Kessler (NR)


Came on for the last minute.

Comments

  1. For me the biggest pleasant surprise was Bello. I thought he struggled in his only other appearance. In this game he performed very well.

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  2. Hoppe should get some time as a # 9 for the USMNT. He is clearly not a target striker but he constantly shows up in the box ready to shoot at the goal. I don’t have the team stats to look at but I would bet he is # one or two in shots for the GP as well as shots on goal. He can hit it hard with both feet and would be an excellent second striker in a two-striker formation like a 4-4-2 or a 3-5-2.

    Hopefully, he will get some time as a 9 when we play lesser teams in qualifying or friendlies.

    It makes more sense to see what he s=can do as a 9 where there is no real standout now than to continue to use him outside where we have great depth.

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  3. I agree with Ives ratings all except Sands, who seemed to play very nervy and looked shaky with the ball. A 80% pass completion percentage for a CB (who usually runs closer to 88-80) isn’t a particularly good game.

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    • @GABE, I’d like to inject a different idea on Sands. There’s a huge difference in how James Sands plays the CB role vs 95% of the CBs in our player pool, except John Brooks. Sands distributes the ball from his CB position like a high level holding midfield “6”, without a whole lot of lateral or back passes, and in the final due to Berhalter’s tactical adjustments, Sands attempted way more long passes than usual. All these traits can attribute to 80% pass completion that showed up in the final stat sheet. Just my two cents.

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      • Good god. The concern over David Ochoa is the product of pure FOMO. Dude very obviously has shown his preference for Mexico and why not? He won’t get a competitive game for 5+ years with us after Turner’s performance. Not to mention…. Who cares? Dude gave up a clown goal in a critical Olympics qualifying match and seems more concerned with teasing his “decision” on Instagram than anything else. Dude feels Mexican… so let him go rep Mexico. Will be fun when we put 5 past him in a few years.

    • i don’t care about the numbers, i see mexico games as quality tests and he started getting beat a little and making passing mistakes. the precise metrics are besides the point. robinson looked a lot better and the real question would be something like, with how bad ream miazga brooks suck, are sands or a healthy zimmermann better than that? i’m inclined to say, yes, but i doubt GB sees it that way. so i anticipate brooks mckenzie robinson miazga central. i think regardless whether it’s metrics or eyeballs sands had momentum but then hit the last hurdle hard, and it’ll be the first thing the coach thinks of when composing a quali roster.

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      • Saying Brooks is bad is ridiculous. He is average in exactly one aspect, 1 vs 1 defending against an attacker with pace in space. He is great in the air, reads the game well, really good with his feet, good on tracking runners. There is a reason he is an everyday starter in a top 4 league for a team that auto-qualified for champions league.

        I think this is likely Brook’s last cycle as I’d expect the young prospects to pass him by 2026 but he will be a key player for US through QATAR.

      • @THE IMPERATIVE VOICE, You lost me completely whenever you brought up Brooks sucks. Really??? I’m not sure what soccer games you have been watching. I totally agreed with Clover362’s assessments on Brooks. If “Brooks’ average 1v1 against a speedy attacker in the open” is unacceptable to you, your personal pick “Zimmerman” is twice as bad against an attacker with pace in space. Brooks did have a forgettable WCQ game against Costa Rica at home during JK’s last moments back in 2017. You just can’t hold that against Brooks forever. The same as Antonee Robinson was beaten and took to school by Douglas Costa during a friendly against Brazil years ago, and I see that you still harshly criticize Antonee Robinson up to now.

      • brooks is bad at the one thing he is hired first and foremost to do. suggesting otherwise is silly. if you need a reminder go watch the US-Costa Rica away game highlights and re-educate yourself. or find highlights where elis from honduras goes by him like nothing for an almost equalizer this summer. it’s like listening to people say forwards are out there to press. whatever dude. you couldn’t have ever played defense. ask a defender. the dude marks air. when you play france, england, italy, that will not suffice.

      • they both cannot play individual defense and at the world class level you have to do that. they are the last line. there is no one else to pass the buck to. if you are confused go back and watch the swiss make us look bad. i cannot believe people just watched an exercise in what stout defense can do and are back to pimping no-defense backs.

        fwiw not only does robinson cheat up and get beat back, the gold cup backs and cannon are better than him at actually getting goals and assists from their efforts. so it’s not justified as defense, and the offense involves a sort of statistical amnesia where we ignore how little comes of his approach to run to the flag and cross offense.

        and go ahead and pretend it happened once. on both players plus dest it’s baked into the cake. they can pass. they cannot defend. you are not seeing something i miss. you are giving them a pass on the end of the field they actually play. i can see where they will be the reason we get sent home next fall.

      • @IV, Just curious, what are your personal choices of the USMNT’s starting 11 in Qatar next fall, so we will not be sent home early? Please enlighten me.

      • since you asked

        pefok
        aaronson pulisic reyna musah/weah
        adams
        vines robinson CCV moore
        turner

        give or take a couple players it’s basically NL offense plus GC defense. attackers who can attack, defenders who can defend, formation that tactically CYA. drop the possession crap and just get after opponents.

      • fwiw i left off zimmerman because he went off with a muscle pull and we play in less than a month. i like sands but due to the coach’s delay he has glitches that need to be sandpapered off and time is run out. CCV will stay with his man and tackle anything that moves. he was on the 2018 teams with moore and zimmerman that kept the GA down and had some upset results. since we seem to be rediscovering what existed before this coach.

  4. i would like to keep the whole defense but then i like more balanced soccer than the A team played. i think a lot of people are neglecting that unless B tactics become A tactics the A team was designed around offense at the expense of defense. this will likely limit B defensive adds up to A to robinson – for sheer dominance — and perhaps moore and cannon fight for a backup job. acosta slides across at yeuill’s expense, but he was already A. the A forwards are maybe zardes and hoppe, that’s it, and i’m not sure it’s more than zardes — and it shouldn’t be him. then turner joins horvath behind steffen. other than that, i think a lot of the others either fizzled out or play busy positions with plenty of A competition people forgot about since june. and people also have to remember the A team and B team were designed to do different things. how do a bunch of hustle players fit the A squad unless it brings over the whole back 4. and personally i’m for balance — the front 5 should be ballerinas and the back 6 should be mercs. but i’m not the coach, he wants passing and crossing backs. so, like i said, how much of this tournament translates and how much was he took a pile of players and after haiti rebooted it as bradley or empty bucket ball.

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    • I think you are both mischaracterizing the shift in tactics from NL to GC and also dismissing the importance. In NL we wanted to play in possession and send our backs high up the pitch to overlap with CP and Reyna. When we couldn’t do that against Mexico they went to a bunker and counter style. In GC against Mexico, we went with a high press to generate turnovers in the offensive 3rd and midfield. We never truly bunkered against Mexico in GC. The question is can CP Sargent and Reyna press like Zardes Hoppe and Arriola did? Frankly, I’d like us to play more like Chelsea in a 3-4-2-1 but I’m not sure we have a Center forward who can stretch lines like Werner.

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      • i am not mischaracterizing a thing. the A team played end to end ball and was content running out backs who cannot defend. as a result they played mexico 3-2. the B team played defense, but at the expense of offense. their backs could defend. as a result they played mexico 1-0. to be clear, my “third way” is hmmm put the A offense and the B defense together and try to get 3-0. god forbid we tried to give up fewer goals after watching italy. shocker.

  5. interesting question is how long 5-sub pandemic style games last. the ability to do a half shift change benefits a grinder team by allowing attacking subs. if this shifts back to 3 subs a grinder team starts expending its subs just to grind 90 successfully. we subbed in 2 backs and a DM. plus some forwards. all tolled 6 people.

    can you do that with 3 subs and still get your late decider?

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    • also, while i love the result, two OT wins at home, how does that bode for quali? there is no OT in the ocho. half the games are road games. i like results but neither of these was a regulation result.

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      • In what way was either of the finals a home game? Those venues were picked by Mexico and crowds were vast majority El Tri. I think Ives estimated 85% Pro-Mexico, Denver was maybe 70/30. If the crowd is throwing bottles at you it’s not a home game.
        ———————————
        Cincy should be a home game, smaller stadium US controls ticket sales, Midwest whether and with the results this Summer I’m cautiously optimistic it will be a pro-US crowd but it will 55/45 or 50/50.

      • Hilarious. “Home games”. I was at the game last night. Also the Nations League final. I can confirm that it was about a 4-1 home advantage for Mexico In the Nations League final, and about a 10-1 advantage last night. The USSF does not select the venues, CONCACAF does. Neither venue was familiar to either team or any of the players (actually incorrect, since Mexico had previously played at Mile High during the 2019 Gold Cup group stage). A third grade geography student might call these cup finals “home games”.

      • you can quibble with me all you want, my point is not the qualitative or numerical categorization of game types, it’s that these games are probably close to the best case scenario. now go on the road where it’s 100% against you. or, wait, i should be pedantic, 99.99%, i forgot some traveling fan in the rafters. anyways, my point is, it only gets harder than this.

        all due respect but half the reason we routinely skate to the finals in gold cup is we never have to travel and have a home crowd, whether you want to recast some of them as nominal or what.

        i also think y’all miss that once we’re talking about a significant portion each side you’re getting loud cheering your way. half curious if you’ve been to a US-Mexico venue if you’re acting like even 30% of 60-70k isn’t pretty loud for its side.

    • I think IV’s posts sound a lot like the film flam man. Paraphrasing him, he predicted at best disastrous results from, GB’s disastrous tactics and poor player selection. Now he is claiming those poor selections are better than the Euro based players he previously said were superior. Then he questions the tactics that worked while claiming those used in the Nation’s League were different (maybe, but they worked there as well). I do not think anyone would claim Tata out coached GB, but IV apparently does. Perhaps he is just the reincarnation of Andy Capp’s cartoon character who was forever under cloud. Don’t trust your lying eyes or the final scores, trust IV the US dailed miserably.

      Seriously, take a breath and revel a bit in the victories before you start tearing down all things US Soccer. I am sure the US will lose a couple gains in WC qualifying, you can rant then and maybe someone will believe you.

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      • Like how he claims Klinsmann was such a great talent evaluator but then claims Brooks is terrible and that Berhalter either only plays him because of pecking order or to appease “Euro snobs”. Brooks played 29 times under Klinsmann almost all of them starts.

      • JR in case your revisionist history forgets he also helped get JK fired so that is not a feather in either’s cap. or do you forget that 4-0 travesty in costa rica??

      • i enjoyed the games. it made me happy. i am not a silly person who lets a hot streak get in the way of calm analysis. calm analysis is go back and watch what the swiss did to us. you have to fix that if you want to progress beyond regional success to the world cup success people claimed they wanted. half the problem with the program is roughly about here we get fat, dumb, and happy every time. you have to keep looking at weaknesses and where we can improve. we are good at x y z. the A team defense sucked. the A team 6 play sucked. it is still not clear who plays 9 for us.

      • the part you’re confused about is i was actually the one suggesting reyna moore horvath etc. i even suggested hoppe wide before the tournament. don’t pretend otherwise.

  6. I don’t see any way that Arriola, who missed a wide open chance in the first half and got himself into the net instead of the ball and was wasteful and mostly quiet outside of whiffing on two chances, deserves the same grade as Hoppe or Gioachinni.

    Those two were more impactful. He was more like a 4.5 or 5.

    If US had lost, he’d the scapegoat.

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    • 100%. Constantly gave the ball away the entire tournament. Did not make a case for himself to be on the qualifying roster.

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      • Missing basically the last two seasons due to injury he seemed off. I wouldn’t rule him out if he can regain his rhythm with DCU but he’s got a way to go if Pulisic, Reyna, and Aaronson continue to play wide. Throw in Weah, Hoppe, and Konrad and I’m not sure how many minutes are available.

    • I’d rate him, LLetget and Sands much lower; Vines, Hoppe and Moore higher. He DOES have a high work rate, and he is a pest, so there’s that, but I’ve converted more difficult shots than the one he missed. Also, couldn’t he have taken it with his left foot where he had most of the goal to shoot at as opposed to beating Talavera near post?

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      • i don’t understand comparing players to people who don’t play their position. this makes sense only as who was the best at GC. it makes no sense as roster-thought. roster-thought is more straightforward, at least nominally. who plays your A team role? did you look better or worse? sorry to burst bubbles but for most attackers, even hoppe, i would say worse. it might be enough to make the bench as one of the last in the 23.

        the questions will be 9, 6, and back. yeuill looked pitiful and got benched. is he done? dike was on NL and struggled in GC. is he swapped out? i think zardes takes that by default, wise or not. and back the coach basically has to make the identity decision. do i want an actual defense or not. the B team was clearly superior at defense and it’s just a matter what he wants out of his backs. i think he likes his cute passing backs so i think only robinson and moore emerge. but those are the three places i could see some change. that and turner makes the roster at keeper with horvath if the coach has a clue. the rest is all people talking up mixed bags they preferred when mixed bag play is not getting you minutes at the expense of the A team mids or wings. you had to dominate or your A team guy had to suck. dike sucked. yeuill sucked. arguably some A team backs sucked. those are actual openings. acosta played well. the backs played well. he has to give someone a last 9 spot. those changes will actually happen. the rest is people getting over-excited last shiny thing they saw.

    • based on how the games were played i think the prime directive was chase the ball. which they did. i do agree that having been relegated to “B” he needed to look good and didn’t look good enough to change A vs B. that being said, if these “B” tactics were anything other than one-off pragmatism you need a chaser or two to play this way. you can’t have reyna out there and run a full court press. which is why i think this was an isolated one-off that won’t translate much back to the A squad.

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      • I disagree re. Reyna, and as evidenc I point all to the Nations final against Mexico, when Reyna put in the defensive shift of his Nats career, chasing all the way back over and over, so much so he gassed and was subbed, but what a defensive shift it was

    • arriola is done. this is a waste of breath. he was in the rotation before the injury. post-injury he got dumped down to the B side. he didn’t stand out on the B side. QED. this is only a debate because we know berhalter is a flake.

      even with a flake coach, based on this last tournament he’d be 3rd or 4th wide either side behind pulisic/aaronson left and reyna/weah right, and then hoppe is in there someplace as well now. there is no reason to change the A unit wide except hoppe. for that matter, musah could also play wide. the only scenario i see arriola called is an injury rash.

      the real discussion is who emerges at back, 6, and 9 from this. or watch this dingbat and make sure he doesn’t deviate back at keeper.

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  7. Ives your scores are way too high on a lot of these guys. James Sands made a few mistakes and 2 of them could have lead to goals. Thats not a 7.5, 5 at best. 7s for Williamson and Lledget are also high. More like 6s. Acostas is really the only midfielder that had a very good game. The rest were solid but couldn’t hold the ball. Also you can’t give 7s if these guys can’t get any good service to our forwards. Very sloppy game but fun. Very workhourse type of game but our midfield in this whole tourney were bleh on offense

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    • Agree is Sands. Was shaky in a McKenzie like way a few times back there. Pretty much everyone was wasteful with the ball at one time or other, but Williamson was definitely tidy in the middle and gave US a chance to catch its breath in between unrelenting Mexican attacks

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    • When Sands was used as a hybrid CB/CDM (3 in the back) I thought he had his best showing of the tournament. If we’d had another viable CB once Zimmerman went down, I’d have liked to see him tried at the CDM as a possible back-up to Adams.
      M. Robinson showed very well all tournament. He should be in contention for WCQ as a back-up to Brooks or as his partner. I still believe C. Richards is a better overall option, but Robinson should provide good depth.
      Turner solidified himself as part of the 3 Keepers needed for the 23 (Steffens, Horvath, & Turner). Where in the pecking order he’ll end up will depend on the other 2s club form. But at least we’ve seen the end of Guzan.
      Moore & Bello are viable depth options for the outside backs. Hoppe has added himself into discussion as winger depth (but may not be enough to challenge for the 23 once everyone else’s seasons start).
      From the perspective of finding depth the tournament was a success. Winning the tournament was a cherry topper. But I still have issues with Gregg’s player evaluations (Lewis, Roldan, etc…).

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      • Sands was better in 3 man backline the 2 games we were able to use it. I’m not sure athletically he can do what Acosta did in those knockout rounds as a DM, just hunting sideline to sideline like Adams does. We have to see where Richards ends up, if he’s sitting on the Bayern bench I think Robinson gets the nod if he’s starting either at Bayern or Hoffenheim then Richards. With 3 games per window both should get chances. Hoppe has some growing to do which is why I hope he leaves Schalke, get him with a good not great team where he’ll play but have vets to teach him. Honestly, outside of Lewis and Yueill anyone of the other field players could slot in with the first 11 and do a job, not many of them are close to being a regular starter but as rotation or injury replacements they’d do adequately.

      • Disagree. The ceiling for Hoppe is pretty high. He was very streaky in his debut season for Schalke and there was as a large block of time where he wasn’t playing (presumably the result of his slump and other factors). Should he either get loaned to midlevel league, (France’s League 1; Eredivisie; Jupiler; etc or a Championship side), or play in B2 with Schalke, he should get more playing time and experience.

        Depending on injuries, suspensions, and form he could make the squad and see the pitch in WCQs. I rate him way ahead of Boyd. KDLF and Weah are probably his competition.

      • I don’t think there is enough of a sample size to say with any confidence that Richards would be a better fill in next to John Brooks right now, maybe down the road, but for right now Robinson has shown a lot in this GC and looks the part. I get it, people like to lean on a players club to determine who is better than another, so granted Richards is on Bayern’s roster and had some good performances for Hoffenheim on loan last season, I still think Robinson has to be in front of him as this point!

    • SNC: I think we can stop even worrying about where someone rates compared to Boyd. If he makes a move to the US he’d probably get some camps just to fill out camps but he’s so far down. I’d agree Hoppe is probably in that 2nd tier as a winger I’d say Weah then Konrad and Hoppe on the same level. Konrad has looked really good in preseason (which doesn’t always mean much) but Hoppe has the confidence and swagger if maybe he isn’t as skilled as Konrad. I think Hoppe probably needs more work to play as 9 for Berhalter. I know people are going to be like “he started as a 9 in the Bundesliga!”, but Schalke were a A desperate and B really seemed to not have any coordinated offensive strategy. Guys like Reyna, Pulisic, and Dest depend on their #9 to be in the right place to not be in their place which I’m not sure Matthew has the tactical discipline for right now. He’s only been a striker for a few years I believe he was a CM at LAG Academy. I hope he finds a move to a club with a detail oriented manager to help him learn.

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      • agree with all re. Sands was best in 3 back where his skills as a 6 were most supported and evident and effective, and though he was certainly imperfect in the 4 back, he wasn’t incompetent and was actually well positioned to make plays consistently over and over again. I just like his skill set, versatility, and ability to step up when opportunity knocked even with some shaky moments

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