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USMNT Player Ratings: Pepi dazzles, Dest rebounds, Musah impresses, and more

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There were several standout performances from the U.S. men’s national team’s 2-0 win against Jamaica on Thursday, and while Ricardo Pepi’s two-goal effort was the headliner, he was not alone in helping deliver another precious three points in World Cup qualifying.

Tyler Adams was excellent once again, as he anchored the USMNT midfield wearing the captain’s armband, while Brenden Aaronson continued his run of productive performances. There were also the impressive efforts of veterans Walker Zimmerman and Paul Arriola, who did their best to quiet the complaints about their inclusion in Gregg Berhalter’s starting lineup.

We saw Sergiño Dest rebound from his disappointing September, and Weston McKennie take the first step toward putting his forgettable September behind him. There was also Matt Turner, growing more confident in his solidifying role as starting goalkeeper, and Yunus Musah playing his first World Cup qualifier like it was his 50th.

Overall, what we saw was a more composed 90-minute performance from a team that had clearly grown from the experience gained in September’s qualifying window, a young squad gaining confidence as it becomes familiar with all the different kinds of challenges that Concacaf can present.

With all that in mind, here are the player ratings for the USMNT’s 4-1 win vs. Honduras:


Matt Turner (7)


Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos

Made just one official save, but it was an excellent diving stop, and something else that stood out was Turner’s throwing the ball to spark USMNT attacks, as he did on the sequence that led to the first Pepi goal.


Sergino Dest (7.5)


A much better showing from Dest after his lackluster performances in September. The Barcelona fullback completed 93 percent of his passes, including his excellent cross on the first USMNT goal, and defensively he contributed nine duels and five recoveries.


Miles Robinson (6.5)


A notch below the elite level we have seen from Robinson in recent months, though he still stood up to most challenges. He needed Matt Turner to make a save on one sequence he was involved in, and he wasn’t quite as active defensively as we have grown used to him being.


Walker Zimmerman (7.5)


Very strong performance from Zimmerman, who was seen as one of the surprising starting choices when the USMNT lineup was first revealed. The Nashville SC defender finished with a team-high 12 duels won (tied with Tyler Adams) and a team-high 11 recoveries and four clearances.


Antonee Robinson (7)


The match was a tale of two very different halves for the USMNT, and Robinson’s performance was the perfect microcosm of that. He struggled in the first half, both offensively and defensively, but in the second half he was much sharper, and helped set up up the second goal. Robinson finished with four key passes and was one of two American players to finish with at least six duels won and six recoveries (Zimmerman was the other).


Tyler Adams (8)


A true force in the middle of the field, Adams helped keep Jamaica from finding much success working through the middle, with his game-high 12 duels won to go with a team-high three tackles. It was his excellent line-breaking pass that sprang Antonee Robinson on the second USMNT goal, and he was sharp with his long passing as well.


Yunus Musah (7)


Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos

Another player who clearly stepped it up another gear in the second half, Musah’s impressive work on the first USMNT goal was one of the more eye-catching moments of the match. His strength on the ball and effortless runs make him a strong candidate to become a regular starter in Berhalter’s midfield.


Weston McKennie (6.5)


There was plenty of attention on McKennie in his first match back from his September suspension and he put together a quiet and composed performance, and though he wasn’t quite the imposing and dominant figure he has been in some past outings, McKennie still turned in a good shift. He won four duels, added five recoveries and completed 92 percent of his 63 passes.


Paul Arriola (7)


Berhalter’s decision to start Arriola over Tim Weah was a surprising one, but the D.C. United winger rewarded his coaches faith with a tireless and fearless shift. He nearly drew a red card in the very first minute, and it was his excellent pass that sprang Brenden Aaronson on a play that could have produced another red card. He could have been more accurate with his crosses, and more clinical at times, but his energy and fight helped set a great tone for the night.


Ricardo Pepi (9)


Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos

Another outstanding display for the teenage striker, who made an impact from the start, delivering the dangerous first-minute pass that should have drawn a red card on Jamaica.


Brenden Aaronson (7)


Another strong performance for the Red Bull Salzburg midfielder, who set up Pepi’s second goal, and almost drew a red card on a Damion Lowe challenge. His attacking contributions were important, but it was once again his two-way work, and consistent pressing, that is an underrated part of his game.


Gyasi Zardes (5)


A busy 22-minute shift that included three shots, but it was probably the one shot he didn’t get to take, when he whiffed on a perfect Tim Weah cross, that stood out among the three big chances he missed.


Timothy Weah (6.5)


If Weah is in line to start against Panama, then his cameo against Jamaica was a delicious preview, as the Lille speedster produced a pair of key passes by torching the Jamaican defense.


Luca De La Torre (NR)


A tidy 13-minute shift that featured a perfect eight completed passes and two recoveries.


Shaq Moore (NR)


Replaced the hobbled Sergino Dest for 13 minutes.


Kellyn Acosta (NR)


Played just seven minutes but did deliver one key pass.


What did you think of the USMNT individual performances? Who impressed you? Who disappointed you the most?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. I’ve been wondering if McKennie wouldn’t be a good 6 for those times when Adams needs to rest and our top attacking talent is available. There is no doubt he’s gritty enough, has the speed and the motor. His skills are a clear step up from Acosta.

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  2. Adams McKennie and Musah as strong a midfield as the USMNT has ever fielded. The depth behind them will be on display in Panama. Pretty cool seeing the USMNT consistently win the battle in midfield, we’ll see if the group in Panama get it done again

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  3. It may be that one of the most tangible aspects to this November cycle is through the various injuries, we have confirmation of a legitimate building roster depth, and the options it gives the US team going forward.

    If the minimum objective is to secure a point, then you can feel confident leaving McKennie behind, because you now have Serie A, La Liga and Eredivisie talent available, as well as MLSers who were picked because they understand the strategy of how to secure a result in away WCQ. It isn’t just about who starts tomorrow, but planning for 5 subs against Panama, and roster rotation for Wednesday.

    I’d expect some of tomorrow’s starters will be given a role and objective, with the strategy being to have the US positioned so that the 2nd half subs can impact the game, and hopefully provide a break for the game on Wednesday.

    It seems the US got the short end of the stick with travel, which makes roster depth and rotation so important in this WCQ format.

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  4. I don’t think Dest will play against Panama due to the knock he took at end of game. I think backline will be

    Moore-Zimmerman-Robinson-Bello. I think A Robsinson and Dest will be saved for Costa Rica at home where getting less than 3 is considered a failure whereas 1 point on the road is considered good. I would expect Richards to play about the last 30 minutes to give one of Zimmerman and M Robinson some rest so both can start against CR.

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    • It’s called squad rotation. Few players are going to go all 270 minutes. Especially guys with muscle injury history like Tim.

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  5. If if if if if USMNT ever actually manages to get Pulisic, Pepi, Aaronson, Reyna, Musah, Adams and McKennie healthy at the same time, McKennie might be on the bench, as the odd man out. It hasn’t happened yet, but he was a lock based on form a year ago and now he’s clearly slipping a bit at Juve and with USMNT.

    Musah is just so much more incisive with the ball, cutting up the middle of the field and creating gaps to thread dangerous passes through like the key pass to Dest for the Pepi assist. I would not want to send him to the bench…

    A good problem to have when it comes about. Weah may also force his way into the conversation barring injuries … unfortunately Pulisic is also extremely injury prone, with Reyna, Adams, Musah, McKennie probe to frequent time off so the depth will absolutely come in handy

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    • The USMNT has never had the kind of depth we are developing right now. In the past we’ve basically had to rely on the same 12-13 players for every game. This was often a detriment as players tiered or picked up knocks during tournaments.
      Having 6 attacking players (Pulisic, Aaronson, Reyna, McKennie, Musah, & Weah) as legitimate options to be in the starting XI is a huge step forwards for us.
      It provides player rotation, flexibility of tactics/line-ups to exploit opponent weaknesses, or maximize our strengths. And this doesn’t even take into consideration others like KDF, LDT, Busio, etc…that are right there on the fringe of the team. Pepi has the inside track right now at the Striker position (Hot Hand)…but Sargent, Hoppe, & Pefok are all still in the picture.
      Defensively we’re building a nice stable of young outside backs (Dest, Scally, Robinson, Reynolds, & Cannon)…again this should help insure depth for rotation & tactics. We also appear to have 3 capable (if not stand-out) Keepers in Steffen, Turner, & Horvath. All three of them have stepped in and shown well when used for the USMNT.
      The only areas I still have some concern with are:
      CDM: Besides Adams the quality of the depth is a little lacking at the moment. There are some options, but they aren’t nearly the same caliber.
      CB: We have some good pieces/options but nothing really solidified. We’ve enough for CONCACAF opponents, but I have some concerns once we start facing higher level competition. Can Brooks get back to the level he was during the COPA America where he was a stand-out CB? Can the young guys (Robinson, McKenzie & Richards) prove themselves & achieve consistency? Can jobbers (Zimmerman, Miazga, CCV, EPB) handle higher level of competition?

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    • McKennie has been nothing short of excellent in the uni…when he’s in it and not suspended that is. He’s the best option at the 8 on the team, you disagree?

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  6. I really thought Musah deserved an 8. Imagine when he and Pulisic are both running directly at defenses together? That should be fun to watch.

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    • Musah was fairly anonymous in the first half, had the one good run that split the CBs but then got little brothered off the ball. Keep in mind I said last week he’s the key opening up our offense by driving the ball thru midfield. Of course Pepi hardly did anything in the first half either so.

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      • Everyone talks about how we didn’t do much in the first half, which is the way it looked. On the other hand, we should have had 2 red cards called on Jamaica which puts a whole different slant on the game. We kind of forgot that part. With a lot of teams, not getting those calls could have really deflated them and led to a different outcome. I think it’s heartening how well we overcame that. Thus, the first half wasn’t that bad, we just got screwed.

      • I’m with Gary Page. the first half may have been 0-0, but we dominated the ball and made the Jamaicans run and chase us. We looked like a real soccer team that can take the game to its opponents for once. There was movement, possession, passing, etc. It was rewarded in the second half after people looked at what happened during the 1st half and made some minor adjustments.

        When teams play defensive bunker, the 1st half is often a slog as the attacking team keeps trying different strategies to break them down. then eventually, you hope they figure it out… the coach makes a tactical sub, or guidance at halftime… and you pop one or 2 in. Anyway, I was impressed by the 1st half as much as by the second.

        Now let’s see it happen against Panama on the road…

    • Same. He was an absolute difference maker in the center of the field. McKennie flicked the ball on about with no urgency or threat, Adams did his destroyed thing but Musah proved crucial in my mind to create attacks from the middle. The wings won’t always get it done by themselves

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    • Regarding McKennie, when he was with Schalke he was often playing like Musah did against Jamaica. McKennie would run at defenses in the Buindesliga and cause all sorts of problems. I don’t think it was lack of effort by McKennie, but he just didn’t seem as effective as he used to be. Let’s hope he can return to being that kind of player he was.

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      • There’s only one ball.

        McKennie did not look as effective because he didn’t need to be as effective.

        If you’re out there with Lletget and Yueill partnering you, it’s different when you instead have Tyler and Musah partnering you.

  7. While I thought Zardes could have done better, when I saw the replay I don’t think he whiffed on the cross. As I saw it he went sliding in and the ball bounced over his legs at the last second. It wasn’t a big bounce, but it was big enough to go over his legs by a couple of inches. Maybe others saw it differently, that’s what it looked like to me. I think Weah should have gotten a bit higher rating albeit he was there for a short while. He looks like a real impact player to me. I think both he and Konrad DLF can become real game changers.

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    • Its been a few years since I’ve been on here but very happy to see your name (and a couple others) in the comments.

      Im excited for tonight!

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  8. All is good now with US at top on goal differential and 8 points but things can change fast. 135 minutes ago Mexico had 2 wins and US looked like it was going to come out of the first window with just 2 points. They need to finish the window strong and get 7 points for this window to match the outcome of last window in terms of winning at home and tying on the road. 180 minutes to go.

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      • Aaahhh!!! That isn’t good news. I would have rated him higher than Ives. I think he won alot of balls and was good at keeping posession and an important player. Being in the minority, I still look at road draws as good results .. If you can win at home that is. I expect no McKennie on the road probably means Acosta on the field. I know that Adams probably should not play all three games again but he more than anybody I think improves the team so probably pretty hard not to try to play him in all three. I think Busio will play against CR at home in some role or maybe a sub in Panama but I dont see him starting.

    • Fortunately Adams was able to get subbed off and not go the full 90. Kudos on that- GB IS learning. Adams is SUCH a steadying influence protecting our back line/ snuffing out trouble before it gets started. I’d start him and look to do the same thing- sub in Acosta again. Hoping we get to see DLT and Musah in the midfield- but pretty sure it will be Lletget and Musah. Aaronson and Weah on the wings stretching the defense- creating space- pingin’ in crosses to Pepi. Really curious to see what GB does with the backline. Think we’ll see Dest at LB, Yedlin RB. No clue who he brings in at CB as he tends to surprise us there, but I suspect he’ll feel safe bet is to run with Robinson Zimmerman again.

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      • Yeah, a different team with Adams, aren’t they. A lot more fun to watch. I’m pretty sure I consider him to he the best American player.

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