The US national team left it late again after a decent but incomplete performance in their 1-0 victory over friendly guests Canada on Friday night at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
Top man Jozy Altidore finally got the goal both he and the team deserved in the waning moments to ensure a second straight USMNT win to open 2016. Still, more can and should be expected when facing a lesser foe having had a long camp together. With World Cup qualifiers looming next month, there are still tactical questions regarding the attack.
David Bingham (6.5) - The debutant didn't face a shot on goal to earn his clean sheet. Still, Bingham commanded his area well and provided some nice distributions.
Steve Birnbaum (6.5) - It was not a flashy outing, but Sunday night's hero slid to right back to fine effect. Canada created next to nothing on his flank, where the D.C. United defender performed seven of his eight pass interceptions. He also played a few positive balls in attack.
Jermaine Jones (6) - The veteran midfielder was dropped into defense again, and had a couple shaky episodes in the first half. He was much more composed after the break, ending up with four tackles and a handful of helpful surges forward on the dribble.
Matt Besler (6) - The Sporting KC man went long stretches without much work, but still managed to top all players by picking off nine passes. He isn't being docked for what was effectively a smart yellow card foul, but did have a couple of nervy touches.
Kellyn Acosta (5) - The FC Dallas left back convert had a miserable giveaway early on, but rallied to tidy up over his 45 minutes of work. After one good early cross, Acosta didn't add to the attack.
Michael Bradley (6.5) - There were a few tempting lob feeds on display, but Bradley never really unlocked Canada's bunker. Then again, he did only miss on two run-of-play passes over the final hour. The Toronto FC man held deeper this time, chalking up plenty of tempo work and several defensive stops in midfield.
Mix Diskerud (6.5) - Mix notched 14 positive passes into the final third and pitched in with some defensive help plays, but like Bradley, never quite grabbed the game by the throat like it looked he might. Diskerud certainly excels at changing the point of attack.
Gyasi Zardes (5.5) - After a shaky beginning, Zardes closed the first half strong with a couple of important passes and a crack on goal. Nevertheless, there were too many rush-halting touches when the US were actually able to break with speed.
Lee Nguyen (6.5) - Once again, it was a nice outing from the Revs ace. That said, he was another who fell short of taking the game over in the attacking third. His ability to work combos along the top of the area is very welcome, though.
Jordan Morris (6) - Though he battled with his hold-up game for much of the night, Morris also made the Canada backline sweat. His runs are solid and annoying, as were a couple of his slip passes. However, the new Seattle Sounders man never found his own chance to fire.
Jozy Altidore (7.5) - From ringing the post on a hard charge to that delicious scoop pass for Morris to all the back-to-goal work, Altidore put on a toolbox showing. His many efforts finally paid off in the end.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (5.5) - To be blunt: It was good, but it could really be better. The team was more organized on the ball than against Iceland and took many threatening poses in attack; it's just that we know the team can do more than bag a late lone goal against an incredibly green Canada side. And that's exactly what happened the instant Klinsmann finally spread the opponents out with two wingers. The 4-4-2 tactics used for these friendlies were too timid because the status quo is obviously not on the optimum setting.
Brandon Vincent (6.5) - The left back sub was steady at the back and always willing to overlap in his first cap.
Jerome Kiesewetter (6.5) - The winger again had immediate impact, including a bothersome cross and a toasted defender. After that, though, his touches dried up.
Darlington Nagbe (6.5) - The Portland Timbers midfielder certainly brings order to the build, but he also showed a willingness to step inside looking for a chance to shoot.
Wil Trapp (6) - The young Crew midfielder contributed some possession touches and a couple of defensive stops in 13 minutes.
Ethan Finlay (7) - Sometimes, one touch is all it takes for a skilled attacker to make a difference. From his off wing, Finlay found the way to pick out Altidore for the needed goal.
Perry Kitchen (-) - A mere cameo.