The United States national team got their Copa America prep started with a rather vanilla 3-1 victory away to cousins Puerto Rico on Sunday afternoon. Playing largely with a group that won't be involved in the Centenario tournament, the visitors put in a decent but unspectacular showing.
My player ratings are below…
Brad Guzan (5.5) – Although he was beaten by a fine strike, one could certainly argue Guzan was caught off his line a bit. Other than that, it was a quiet half of work for the starting 'keeper.
DeAndre Yedlin (6.5) – Though rarely tested in defense, the Tottenham man caused all sorts of problems for the hosts on the overlap. Yedlin's crosses could have been a lot better, though.
Michael Orozco (5.5) – As usual, the Tijuana defender moved the ball around safely. However, he had a few issues at the back during the opening 50 minutes of the contest. Orozco failed to stop the assist pass on Puerto Rico's goal and went missing on an early first-half cross through his zone. A strong lead pass that notched him a secondary assist on the capper lifted his grade a bit.
John Anthony Brooks (6) – The Hertha Berlin center back was the busiest US defender on the day, making 11 total stops in his end. Brooks also completed a variety of helpful long passes, but was perhaps a step too slow in reacting to the shooter on the goal.
Tim Ream (6) – The left back's grade is helped a lot by the first goal of his US career, as he got into the box to bury a rebound with extreme prejudice. The rest of his 63-minute shift contained several problems, including the poor throw-in that led to Puerto Rico's goal, some bad giveaways and a missed mark that easily could have facilitated an equalizer by the hosts just after halftime.
Daniel Williams (7) – The Reading ace led all players with 11 pass picks, including five in front of the US area. He also pushed the team forward often with outlet passes to the flanks. His omission from the Copa roster is quite curious.
Perry Kitchen (5.5) – The Hearts midfielder had his moments, but fell short of shining. Kitchen got too fancy when moving into attack, overlooking good passing options near the box for the dribble. To be fair, he was working out of position.
Alfredo Morales (6) – The left midfielder provided plenty of grit and his distance shot led to Ream's goal. There were a few demerits, though, including a bad turnover and a couple of lost challenges in the US end.
Alejandro Bedoya (6) – Bedoya started well, went quiet for a while and then finished strong. He surged forward to supply the cross for the last US goal. The Nantes workhorse probably could have used a bit more of the ball, but not all of his attacking ideas worked when one might have expected him to truly excel today.
Paul Arriola (7) – It was quite the debut for Arriola, who said hello to international play with a tap-in goal and a smart assist pass. The Tijuana handyman exhibited some good attacking instincts to take up dangerous positions all game long.
Bobby Wood (7) – The new Hamburg forward needed a lot more of the ball, as he was always threatening. In addition to scoring, Wood clearly looked like the most confident US attacker on the ball.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (4.5) – Why this group was handed such a conservative game plan is beyond the logic employed by this space, especially when only a handful of the players involved are in the Copa America squad. Once again, midfielders were shuttled out of their optimum position to sate the boss' curious need for a diamond midfield. Finally, one should expect a lot more fire from a group loaded with guys aiming to impress, but the team often looked oddly static with the ball when in positive attack positions.
Tim Howard (6.5) – Howard was given next to nothing to do, but made his lone save look comfy.
Emerson Hyndman (6) – Though he did spray passes all over in attack, Hyndman also shorted out a couple of dangerous rushes with stray balls. It was not a bad showing, but some might have expected him to be more forceful in creating chances.
Matt Miazga (6) – The Chelsea youngster has the least to do at the back, but was solid when called upon. It was nice to see Miazga connect with some long switches, but he also misfired on a few passes near midfield that could have sparked Puerto Rico rushes.
Julian Green (5.5) – Like Yedlin, Green often found space to receive wide during his 27 minutes. While he stung the netminder's hands once and beat a couple of defenders on the dribble, his set-up game was lacking. This was precisely the appearance to show he belongs in the USMNT frame and that didn't happen.
Eric Lichaj (6.5) – With almost nothing to do in his own end. Lichaj solidly pushed the team forward when on the ball. He had one scintillating dribble to the home area.
Fafa Picault (6) – Given 19 minutes on his debut, the St. Pauli strike ace put one shot on target and worked the defense when possible.