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USMNT Player Ratings: Pulisic’s trifecta, Jedi’s gem, and more


Considering the underlying angst heading into Sunday’s World Cup qualifier in Orlando, the U.S. men’s national team showed none of the nerves that some of their fans surely felt heading into the crucial clash with Panama. In fact, not only did the Americans not waver, they stepped up with their best performance of the Octagonal.

Christian Pulisic stole the show with his hat-trick, complete with a beautiful final goal, but Sunday’s win was really a group effort that showed off just how impressive the depth is in the player pool. Whether it was Paul Arriola silencing his critics with stellar 45-minute shift, or Luca De La Torre delivering another composed start in midfield, or Jesus Ferreira showing that he is a serious contender for the starting striker role, Sunday’s win was a perfect showcase for some of the players who don’t always get the headlines.

Here are SBI’s USMNT player ratings for Sunday’s win vs. Panama:

Zack Steffen – 6

It’s almost easy to forget the nervy moments Steffen produced on a night when his teammates were dominant, but Steffen will need to tighten things up if he is going to maintain his hold on the starting spot.

Shaq Moore – 7

From not being on the roster to a truly impressive starting shift, Moore was a rock defensively, helping neutralize Panama’s wing threats.

Walker Zimmerman – 7.5

Solid defensively yet again, and gets a ratings boost for drawing a penalty.

Miles Robinson – 7.5

See above.

Antonee Robinson – 8

His showing against Mexico had some flaws, but he responded with an even better outing, including some service that will have USMNT fans excited about his ever-evolving game.

Tyler Adams – 7.5

It is easy to take for granted just how important Adams is to the USMNT setup, but he is the security blanket who helps make everyone’s job easier.

Yunus Musah – 6.5

Tidy 45 minutes for Musah, who should have a big role to play against Costa Rica.

Luca De La Torre – 7.5

You can argue that he hasn’t been tested by the level of midfields he has faced with the USMNT, but the fact remains De La Torre once again plays his role excellently and helped the Americans post a comfortable victory.

Christian Pulisic – 8.5

Confident penalty conversions are an underrated asset, but it was his overall leadership, presence and then that magical third goal that made it a perfect night for the USMNT captain.

Jesus Ferreira – 7.5

His movement was excellent once again, and it was fitting that he capped the beautiful passing sequence leading to his goal. Ferreira also played provider with two key passes, offering a different kind of element to the striker role.

Paul Arriola – 8

Elevated bravely for the goal, and then delivered the final pass for Ferreira’s finish, Arriola showed why Berhalter has continued to give him chances even if some USMNT fans have been calling for him to be cast aside for younger options.

Gio Reyna – 6.5

We were waiting for some magic off the bench, but Reyna instead delivered a hard-working shift, with an impressive six recoveries in 45 minutes. He also produced some good attacking moments as well.

Kellyn Acosta – 7

A very good 45-minute shift from Acosta, who did a ton of dirty work to snuff out any attempts by Panama to work back into the match.

Aaron Long – 5

Beaten on the Panama goal, it wasn’t the best shift for the Red Bulls defender.

Gianluca Busio – 6

Good hard-working 20-minute cameo for Busio, who has slipped behind De La Torre on the depth chart, but who could get a chance against Costa Rica.

Jordan Morris – NR

Didn’t have much to do.

What did you think of the USMNT performances on Sunday? Who impressed you the most? Which of the above grades do you think was too generous? Who deserved a higher grade?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I thought Steffen was absolutely horrible. I’d give him a 3, maybe 4. If his edge over Turner is his feet, it doesnt do much good when we regularly lose the ball in our end trying to play out of the back.

    • Agree all the lost balls in the back were concerning. A top team would have punished half of them.
      Even in a 5-1 win this is a worry. A few of these came off of A. Robinson – I don’t know how he gets an 8. Isn’t a fullback supposed to be a defender first? If one of those led to a goal in a 1-0 game he’d have a 4.
      I mean there were and always are some great signs, but some worrying ones too.
      The punditry is just terrified of saying a single negative word.

  2. Agree closely enough to SBI ratings. One of the more exciting developments of this last year is the rise of the 2nd and 3rd string guys. Take De La Torre and Busio for instance, who have filled in admirably this window. I am not sure if they are ready to face the most elite athletic centermids, but for everything below that there is not much drop-off. When McKennie went down, I honestly wondered if that might be the precursor to disaster for us, just because physically we don’t have anyone else like him. Turns out it didn’t matter. Also pleasantly surprised by Moore who I didn’t really rate before, but he was solid defensively against a Panama team that had to attack, and got forward well. His service needs work, but I really like that he was looking to play in the early cross, something the USMNT has struggled with over the last two years. Also happy for Arriola, who seems a good guy. He is not a starter if everyone healthy, but showed his value with a nice goal, is an unselfish hustler, and can be used as depth on this team.

  3. One of the most positive aspects to these ratings is it shows there is little dropoff between the tiers on the US depth chart. We continue to see the quality rise since the start of the WCQ with so many new players stepping in and performing well. Contrast this lineup to the roster from the first WCQ break to highlight the improvement.

    – Moore, arguably a 3rd or 4th choice, stepped in and impressed on short notice. He may step over an aging Yedlin to the next tier up.
    – 2 MLS guys, Zimmerman and M. Robinson have risen to the top CB pairing…no argument
    – Long, just rounding into form after a long injury layoff, is in the driver’s seat with Richards to add depth to CB. McKenzie stock has dropped.
    – There looks to be little drop-off if either LDLT and Busio fill in at MF. Lletget’s ship, as expected, has sailed.
    – Ferreira, if he stays in form, has opened up the competition for the slots up front. We may see Dike, if he gets into form. providing more competition at this slot in future US friendlies.

    • I wish Moore was more technical. He’s really athletic, busts his tail, and generally does intelligent things, and he’s solid in defense and very positive going forwards but he is not a good soccer player on the ball and bangs way too many bad touches all over the lot. Which is a little surprising for a guy who plays in Spain.
      LDLT is way, way better than anybody not called Gio Reyna on the ball and it’s not close. Busio’s a tidy passer and sees it really well but I still say he’s kind of a slow natural 6 and until he gets more lead in his butt in defense I’m not crazy about him as an 8…the four guys ahead of him (including Acosta) are all a lot better on the ball and far more aggressive going forward.
      For this fixture window, anyhow, I think Reyna probably stays on the wing but I really would like to see Reyna and LDLT as our 1-2 at one of the interior mid spots while McKennie and Musah man the other, while we find a fourth guy with “verticality” to complement Pulisic/Aaronson/Weah on the wing. Jordan Morris is clearly not all the way back…and may never be. It may wind up being Arriola by default, like it or not.
      PERSONALLY I’d wanna take Matthew Hoppe and play him as the #2 LW behind Pulisic and bump Aaronson over to share the RW spot with Weah, but when I start thinking like a coach it’s pretty transparent – when you look at body language and how the players carry themselves – that Hoppe’s kind of a sh!tbag teammate and has some primadonna in him whereas Arriola’s a coach’s dream in terms of attitude and professionalism, even if Hoppe is (much!) more talented. And you do have to worry about that because if your locker room gets toxic it just plain doesn’t matter how talented your guys are.

      • Quozzel, we mostly agree.
        – If Moore continues to get minutes and improves, he may leap over Yedlin. The WC is grueling and favors the young and resilient.
        – Both LDLT and Busio are slight of build, so hoping for a growth spurt here. Busio is a bit stronger defensively, but it’s really a close call. I’d be Ok with either or maybe both going in November.
        – Hoppe needs playing time and quickly to get in the mix, or get a transfer. Both Morris and Arriola are soon to be in mid-season form, and are ahead of Hoppe, KDLF and Gioachinni.
        – Same with Pefok. Nothing left to prove in the Swiss league, and his hold-up and defense need work. Dike is back playing so he has competition.

  4. Lots of problems for Robinson in buildup when pressured. He’s going to have to do better there. You can’t dribble your way out of every situation. All other aspects very good.

  5. Ives – I agree with most of your ratings with possibly one exception. I think you were a little generous with Moore. I get he was a late replacement arrival but at the start of the game particularly he was shaky defensively and his passing was off. Once we got the 2nd goal he settled down considerably, but I’d still rate him a 6 or 6.5.
    As someone who’s been critical of Arriola’s inclusion I was pleasantly surprised with his play in this game. However, 1 good game does not erase multiple poor/average performances. As a wide attacker he has to be more consistent with his crosses and shots. Hustle has it’s merits but it’s not enough to ink him into the 23….so I’ll continue to push for Gregg to look at other options.

    • That’s the thing, we don’t have an abundance of wingers on the precipice or replacing Arriola, except maybe Konrad, and the word coming out of France regarding his professionalism and training habits in general aren’t great to hear. Hoppe, Sargent and Giaochinni are all CF’s, playing as wingers for their club, so not exactly like for like and I think Greg probably sees them all as CF’s too(he’s on record saying he still sees Sargent as a CF in our pool during the presser for this roster announcement). The good thing about our pool, and particularly this roster is that there are versatile guys that could play multiple spots, which will be huge for the WC, when you think about players like Musah(plays RW for Valencia most of the time), Acosta(LB, RB, CDM and CM), Ferreira(RW, CF, CAM), Pulisic(LW, RW, CF, RWB), Reyna(CF, RW, LW, CAM, CM), Weah(CF, RW, LW), Aaronson(CM, CAM, RW, LW), etc…..good headaches and coverage to have!

  6. I would reduce Ferreira’s rating by half a point because of his miss right in front of goal. He really needed to do better on that one. I was impressed with Busio when he came in and would give him a 6.5 instead of 6.

    • Yeah. Ferreira’s had some iffy misses which I am not crazy about but he doesn’t come across as being a shaky mentality like Josh Sargent always did to me…watching how neurotic and un-clutch Sargent always was in front of goal, I kind of thought: it’s gonna be a LOOOOOONG time before this kid calms down…if he ever does. Don’t get that sense from Ferreira…I kind of get the sense his main issue might be belief instead of the yips and as he grows in confidence he’ll start converting the routine stuff. Usually. Let’s face it, as an FC Dallas guy you don’t play in front of the big crowds so the big stage can be a bit daunting even if FC Dallas is churning the youngsters out on the development side.
      They need to move into the city, at least for matchday. I think they could start pulling down 40K+ pretty easily in Jerry World. At that point I think FC Dallas is pretty much Ajax West and the kids it produces are going to be special indeed.

      • The ball was a half a step late, Ferreira had to hold up just enough that caused him to lean back and miss. Maybe some of his fault for the timing but it wasn’t an easy finish. Hopefully being back as the 9 for FCD helps his timing and finishing. FCD is a lot of fun to watch this year with energized Pomykal back as an 8/10 and the new guy Velasco. Servania and Cerillo back in the starting lineup too.

      • I will say FCD had 19,000 there the last match just under the 20,000 capacity. We’ll see if that’s sustainable once the weather gets brutal.

      • JR – Yeah, but the product is consistently REALLY GOOD there at FC Dallas – especially in terms of generating local talent! – and would be even better if they had more money to burn…and as we’ve seen with Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Seattle, etc…you put an MLS team into one of those situations where they can play downtown in front of that more urbane crowd, big crowds indeed show up. Dallas is absolutely that kind of city.

        Their current stadium location in Frisco is killing them. They could easily double their attendance there at AT&T Stadium, if they could get Jerry to play ball, anyhow, and work with them like Arthur Blank has at the Benz with the so the team isn’t just rattling around in a somewhat-empty football stadium.

        Hard to imagine Jerry wouldn’t be down with that. Everybody likes money.

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