Top Stories

USMNT Player Ratings: Turner impresses, almost everyone else struggles in loss to Japan


Questions about the U.S. men’s national team goalkeeper position were among the most pressing heading into the September friendlies, but by the end of Friday’s 2-0 loss to Japan, there was much more cause for concern about almost every other part of the field than about who was in goal.

Matt Turner’s confidence performance stood out as the glaring exception to the thoroughly underwhelming display by the Americans against Japan, and as much as you could make an excuse out of the absence of several key starters, it was still a shockingly flat showing from a group a players auditioning for World Cup places.

The bad news is nobody but Turner turned in a performance that strengthened their chances of making it to Qatar. The good news for them is there is one more match on Tuesday for them to try and atone for what was a largely forgettable showing.

Here is a closer look at how the USMNT players performed against Japan, with SBI’s Player Ratings for the match:

Matt Turner – 7

The only bright spot. Made several key saves and looked confident with the ball.

Sergiño Dest – 5.5

Deserved an assist on the pass he put on a platter to Jesus Ferreira, and tried repeatedly to force the issue getting forward. Could have scored higher if not for some bad turnovers that led to Japan breakouts.

Walker Zimmerman – 4

Put out a lot of fires defensively, but those were overshadowed by the uncharacteristic breakdowns he was a part of and the errant passing.

Aaron Long – 4

Committed an early turnover that led directly to a Japan counter, which set the tone for a shaky showing. He had plenty of the ball during his 45 minutes, but looked uneasy under pressure.

Sam Vines – 5.5

Largely invisible in the first half, Vines benefited from a move into a wingback role in the second half. Defensively, he was passable, but didn’t do enough overall to be considered a lock as Antonee Robinson’s back-up going forward.

Tyler Adams – 5.5

Uncharacteristically ineffective outing by his lofty standards, Adams won just two of his six duels and was unable to keep Japan from repeatedly penetrating through the middle.

Luca De La Torre 5

His lack of playing time at Celta Vigo showed as he struggled to keep up with the pace of the match, and did little to keep Japan from bossing things in the middle.

Weston McKennie 4

Posted an abysmal 68 percent passing completion percentage, which is bad enough, but he committed some inexcusable turnovers, including one that led to Japan’s opening goal.

Brenden Aaronson 6

The only attacking player who showed any sort of consistent pulse, Aaronson was abused all match by Japanese defenders but still managed to be involved despite the USMNT’s struggles to keep the ball.

Jesus Ferreira – 4

Missed a wide-open header in front of goal in what was his only chance on a day when he was otherwise invisible for 45 minutes.

Gio Reyna – 5.5

Showed some glimpses, but wasn’t involved enough to score hire for his 45-minute shift. The good news is he left the game healthy, which is ultimately the most important thing given his injury track record.

Mark McKenzie – 5

Had a chance to make a real case to move up the centerback depth chart, but this 45-minute shift wasn’t the knockout he needed.

Reggie Cannon – 4

Toasted on Japan’s second goal, Cannon had a 45-minute shift to forget and he didn’t provide much support for the notion he deserves to be in ahead of DeAndre Yedlin and Joe Scally.

Jordan Morris – 4

Managed just 10 touches in 45 minutes in an anonymous performance.

Josh Sargent – 5

Starved for service, Sargent had a quiet 45 minutes, though he moved well and held the ball up well when he was able to get the ball.

Malik Tillman- 5

Showed some life in his 23 minutes, but wasn’t going to have much of an impact given the mess he was placed into.

Johnny Cardoso – 5

Struggled to settle into the match, and while he had a few moments of ingenuity, Cardoso looked a bit overwhelmed.

What do you think of the above grades? Who did we grade too generously? Who were we too harsh on?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Without a legend, hard to know his heading system. He explained a 2 but not. Lear what other numbers represent. Comparitively,, I think Turner should be higher as he made 3-4 really good saves and kept them in the game. Aaronson 2nd best. Zimmerman 3rd – other than 1 bad give away in 1st half I thought he was solid. Long was considerably worse than Zimm. Had two bad giveaways in 45 minutes and got beat easily on a corner that should have been a goal. McKenzie was much better at defending but also had 2 horrible give aways. Reyna was no better than any of the other lackluster fwds and was mostly invisible. Made no attempt to go find the game the way aaronson did. I like Reyna but not sure why so many people want to blame his bad performances on other people all the time (not implying Ives was doing that, but a general observation – Reyna sucked because Vines sucked but Vines sucking had nothing to do with reyna) Reyna. Overall though, I agree mostly with V poster – these games are like NFL preseason and aren’t very indicative of WC performances – those are the games that matter. People ready to annoint Japan as WC contender but they lost 3-0 to Tunisia at home in June.

  2. Just don’t have that veteran presence with this team. Which we all knew. Hopefully they grow from this. Someone or multiple players just need to make the decision that what they are doing isn’t working and take the game by the scruff of the neck and change the script. Defeats are teaching moments. They will learn from this.

  3. One thing we learned (I hope) is we need a different tactical setup when missing some key players. Maybe with A Rob, Pulisic, Musah, Weah out there we could play the methodical buildup Berhalter wanted against a Japan, but the guys who he tried to slot in those places just couldn’t keep up in this game. It’s time to get the best players available out there and then adjust your setup to play to their strengths and to attack whatever weaknesses the current opponent has. Most of our best players would be best suited to play on the counter…

  4. Dest was caught upfield when McKennie made the turnover that led to the first goal. It was the guy he would have been marking that scored. On one hand, he neglected his defensive duties, OTOH, he was in attack mode when McKennie unexpectedly gave up the ball and was caught out by surprise. Vines, Zimmerman and Long were all on the left leaving the attacker all alone on the right with Dest trailing badly.

    It is a weakness of relying on fullbacks to attack, if there is a fix for that, it is making sure the CBs slide over to cover, the defensive mid gets back quickly and the opposite fullback does not get caught up as well.

    Also on the second goal, Adams was trying desperately to foul before the attacker got into the box, but couldn’t throw him off. He was at least smart enough to know that Cannon was beaten and desperate measures were needed.

    • I disagree.
      We had possession without pressure, Dest is supposed to move up. McKennie give away even caught Adams not to be behind the ball.

  5. Tuner was the best of course and Dest and Aaronson the only 2 other decent performances.
    The worst players were not our defenders, however.

    Reyna, McKennie and Adams played far worse than Long or Zimmerman.

    McKennie and Reyna probably the biggest duds vs. Japan. I’d give each a 2.5. Both useless.

    Same grade for Fereira who keeps showing he can’t perform vs stronger competition. Taking him to the World Cup is a roster spot wasted.

    Adams only did slightly better probably a 3.

    A game to forget. Wake up call for our “stars” one hopes.

    • Oh and I forget De La Torre. I never understood the hype. He is avg at best and vs Japan he stunk it up. Let’s not waste a roster spot on him he brings nothing that could make a real impact at the world cup.

  6. The Long hate is so hilarious. He wasn’t good against Japan but the Long haters always jump at a chance to overdo it. Zimmerman was worse than Long. A 2 for Long? Give me a break. He wasn’t involved on either goal so stop with the BS.

    • The Long criticism is because he hasn’t looked the same post injury, he hasn’t played well with club or country, he looks slow and slow to react. He looked lost with his mark getting goal side of him multiple times, his passing isn’t great, and I imagine the coaches thought the same thing if he was replaced by McKenzie at halftime. Zimmerman has been the most consistent CB and this was probably his worst game, regardless Long had a horrible outing and didn’t have the chance to suck for 90 minutes…
      The rest of the soccer world agrees….

      • “The rest of the soccer world agrees”, more like the USMNT eurosnob fanboys agree with him deserving a 2. Give me a break.

        Long had a bad game, already agreed with you there, but he wasn’t nearly as bad as the loudest of his haters suggested. You’re clearly one of them as evidenced by you reaching to suggest Long was pulled at halftime when the reality is we’ve seen Gregg swap in center backs in friendlies plenty of times before in pre-planned rotations. That doesn’t fit into your narrative though.

        Is Long the answer at centerback? Not necessarily, but the fact is there are people who have crapped on him even before the injury, when he was very good for us. I agree with you that he’s not the same post-injury, but stop trying to sell the overcooked BS.

      • He sucks.. Just get used to it, and when I say the rest of the soccer world agrees, look at all the various outlets that are saying the exact same thing. Every article, every podcast I’ve watched, they all say the same thing.
        I saw one article that gave him a 5- and their reason was “it’s not his fault GB keeps playing him in a system that doesn’t fit him, but he keeps playing him”
        If I was a eurosnob I wouldn’t have complimented Zimmerman as many times as I have – same with Miles Robinson, and never criticized Long before his injury …
        But he did get injured and looks like crap- no agenda, no oversold BS, no narrative – the dude looks like garbage

    • Meant to give the centerbacks 4s, not 5s, so that has been adjusted. That being said, a 2 is reserved for someone burned directly on multiple goals or burned on a goal AND earned an early red card.

      • Thanks for your reply! I’m just venting my frustration with the team’s performance. I obviously have issues. Next time someone does a big “2” on the field I’ll look out for your confirmation.

Leave a Comment