USMNT Player Ratings: Adjustments key to success vs. Cuba
Like the weather, the US national team took a while to clear up before storming back for a perfectly acceptable 4-1 rout of CONCACAF Gold Cup guests Cuba on Saturday afternoon.
Despite a massive statistical edge, the American offense struggled to unlock the visitors for about 40 minutes. However, the Nats pulled away with ease in the second half to send the Rio Tinto crowd home happy.
Nick Rimando (7) - The Real Salt Lake netminder didn't have much to do. Rimando made a couple of nice plays, including a smothering charge off his line with 10 minutes left that avoided a nervy finish.
Tony Beltran (6.5) - Though he didn't offer much in the final third, Beltran repeatedly helped the team get there. He also made a few plays to extinguish Cuba counters, but the grade drops a little for getting undressed in the area late.
Oguchi Onyewu (6) - A slight hesitation from Gooch allowed Cuban goalscorer Jose Ciprian to gain the half-yard needed, but a tricky spin on the ball made the situation a tough read. Other than that, Onyewu moved the ball around smoothly and executed a perfect recovery tackle in the area in the second half.
Michael Orozco (7) - It was a very steady, intelligent shift by a defensive handyman playing in the center. Meanwhile, can someone figure out how he routinely gets into such great scoring/knockdown positions on set pieces? He's like a restart ninja.
Edgar Castillo (7) - As the game neared intermission, having just been beaten twice for speed, it looked to be an altogether dreary outing from the left back. Then, Castillo apparently made a quick change in a phone booth and started leaping into the attack with single bounds. One foray earned a game-tying penalty and another a goal. An observer couldn't be blamed for hoping the international game has finally clicked for the Tijuana man.
Kyle Beckerman (7) - It was Castillo and the RSL midfielder that did the most of the simple possession work that often goes unnoticed. Both also eventually nabbed assists, with Beckerman's tempting angled serve setting up the US third. On the down side, he left the entire central park area uncovered on Cuba's fast break opener.
Stuart Holden (6) - It seemed a bit of a polite outing from the Bolton ace in terms of his passing across the midfield stripe. Generally, though, his positioning did help to keep Beckerman's job simpler.
Joe Corona (8) - Even more so than his Tijuana teammate Castillo, Corona should have everyone wondering if he's finally arrived as a USMNT contributor. Although slightly off in the first half, the 23-year-old was deeply involved in a majority of the home side's best moves after the break, topped off by his beautiful curling matchwinner.
Brek Shea (4.5) - The first 30-35 minutes was rough, with numerous opportunities to create offense wasted because the winger kept working off balance. Shea closed the half fairly well, managing finally to put a dangerous cross into the box. But it wasn't enough to impress Klinsmann.
Landon Donovan (7.5) - The L.A. Galaxy star was a shade off for most of the opening half, perhaps due to being forced up under the lead striker. After he buried the typing spot kick, both his game and the team's opened up. Once Donovan and Corona started dropping into attack midfield to instigate, Cuba never stood a chance.
Herculez Gomez (6) - The forward was certainly not getting any love on calls from the referee, which seemed to eventually throw him to an extent. However, Gomez also saw the ball a shockingly low number of times in nearly an hour, making it tough to grade him aggressively.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (6) - Until it was almost halftime, the coach was getting a lesson in why the "empty bucket" is not optimal at either end of the field when hosting obviously lesser teams. That being said, he had the boys ready to tussle with a Cuba side that has improved a lot in recent years, and all of his subs had great effect in securing the win.
- READ: GROUP C STANDINGS
Jose Francisco Torres (7.5) - In perhaps his most assured left side performance for the USMNT, Torres was constantly asking tough questions of the Cuba defense. His entry feed led to the capper and he also paved the way for Castillo to shine after the break.
Mix Diskerud (7) - Unlike most CONCACAF midfielders, Mix is out there playing chess on the ball. With only two central midfielders out there today, Diskerud acted as both timekeeper and quarterback, always giving the attack new angles to explore.
Chris Wondolowski (7.5) With an extra "W" stitched on the inside of his jersey, the San Jose hit man applied two fatal touches in 32 minutes to put the game on ice. Wondo should have had three again, but we'll let it slide this time.