Earning points on the road in Concacaf World Cup qualifying is never easy, and the U.S. men’s national team was reminded of this on Tuesday after a largely forgettable 1-1 draw with Jamaica. The match only produced one goal for the Americans, and one point in the Octagonal standings, but it also provided plenty of valuable lessons for a young team still learning how to play together.
Tuesday’s draw wasn’t so much about the Americans being outplayed by an inspired opponent, though the Jamaicans are clearly in better form now than they were when the Octagonal began. It was more about how a young team handled the emotional dip following a monumental victory, and the gut-punch aftermath of a stunning goal like the one scored by Michail Antonio.
The bumpy pitch in Kingston didn’t lend itself to clean passing and sharp buildup, but you can’t really blame the poor field for the lack of energy from the Americans, who went from being relentless against Mexico to being lackluster against the Reggae Boyz.
Weston McKennie’s absence played a part, as his infectious energy can help even the most lethargic of teams find a spark (see Juventus), but his absence alone didn’t account for the collective funk the Americans found themselves in after Antonio’s long-range rocket tied the score.
Here is a closer look at how the USMNT performed individually in Tuesday’s draw in Jamaica:
Zack Steffen – 5
Was caught flat-footed on Michail Antonio’s wonder striker, and as much as the shot was a stunner, it did feel like the rangy Steffen could have stopped it if he was locked in and read the play properly.
DeAndre Yedlin – 6
Did well to limit Leon Bailey’s impact in the match, but didn’t provide much in the attack and wasn’t as active as he was against Mexico.
Walker Zimmerman – 6.5
Won seven of 10 duels and added six aerials won, and while some might say he was lucky to have a fouled called on Damion Lowe on a potential Jamaica winner, Zimmerman’s positioning on the play was solid and replays showed he was fouled.
Chris Richards – 6
Two duels won and six recoveries to go with 63 touches was a modest amount of output for Richards, who was starting in his first road qualifier. He looked like a player still finding his footing on the international level.
Antonee Robinson – 6
Failed to connect on a single cross and converted just three of his nine long passes on a night when the USMNT attack could have used more effective service from the wings. Defensively, Robinson was serviceable, but hardly dominant.
Tyler Adams – 6
Normally one of the team’s most reliable energizers, Adams had a much lower output against Jamaica than he had in the win against Mexico. In the win against El Tri, Adams finished with a combined 20 duels won and recoveries, while that number was just seven against Jamaica.
Yunus Musah – 7
One of the few bright spots for the USMNT, Musah hit on four of five long passes and looked comfortable on the ball.
Gianluca Busio – 6
The Venezia midfielder’s first start in World Cup qualifying was a modest start, but he did have the understandable jitters and flat showing for stretches that you might expect in a road qualifying debut.
Tim Weah – 7
Started off very well, and his goal was beautiful, but he did fade badly as the match went on and his departure in the 66th minute confirmed that Berhalter saw him running out of gas relatively early.
Ricardo Pepi – 6.5
Helped set up Tim Weah’s goal, but zero recoveries and just 10 completed passes and two shots was the evidence that confirmed his relative disappearance after Weah’s finish.
Brenden Aaronson – 5
Managed just 10 completed passes in 77 minutes, Aaronson also added just three combined duels won/recoveries. He tried to pressure and stay active, and took a beating in the process, but he was largely ineffective on both sides of the ball.
Christian Pulisic – 5
No shots and no key passes during his 24 minutes off the bench.
Kellyn Acosta – 5
Tried to bring some energy during his 24 minutes, and did to some degree, but had little impact.
Paul Arriola – NR
Played 13 minutes, recorded a shot and won a duel, finishing with four touches.
Jesus Ferreira – NR
Played 12 minutes, managed two touches.
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