US Player Ratings: Christian Pulisic shines brightest in qualifying victory

The US national team banked three vital points on Thursday night with a patient 2-0 victory over World Cup Qualifying guests Trinidad & Tobago at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

The hosts did well in bending the Soca Warriors defense in the opening frame, and then finally broke them with a pair of Christian Pulisic strikes after intermission. It was a solid team effort by the USMNT, who looked to be on the same page for most of the night.

Tim Howard (6) - The US netminder was bailed out by the crossbar just past the half-hour, but was in command other than that. Howard made a good save near the break and came up with an important punch after it.

DeAndre Yedlin (7.5) - The right back was a constantly probing presence in the final third until he picked the perfect low feed for Pulisic's winner. Yedlin also generally muted the threat of Joevin Jones and added a couple of strong area clearances.

Geoff Cameron (7) - Aside from a couple of nervy moments on the ball, the Stoke City man was quite sturdy. Cameron repeatedly supported possession and covered tons of ground to pile up 19 total defensive stops.

John Anthony Brooks (6.5) - Other than snoozing on Kenwyne Jones on the aforementioned woodwork scare, the Wolfsburg defender put in a solid display. Brooks made eight interventions in the US box, moved the ball well and tested the away keeper from distance. 

Jorge Villafana (7) - The Santos Laguna left back was excellent in the first half, when he consistently pushed the US attack forward, completed nine positive passes in the away end and kept things quiet in his defensive zone. He wasn't quite as strong after the hour, but his job at the back was made harder by a few poor giveaways from teammates. 

Michael Bradley (6.5) - The skipper put in a workmanlike shift, without many frills. Bradley won a few key challenges and mostly kept his passing simple, avoiding the bad giveaways that have plagued some of his outings in recent years.

Darlington Nagbe (7.5) - The Portland midfielder again showed why he is a valuable shuttler on this team. Nagbe successfully used his wheels on several occasions, both in breaking pressure and in driving the attack. He also got back to help Yedlin quiet Jones on a few important occasions.

Fabian Johnson (4.5) - It was a rather sleepy display from Johnson, who put defenders in trouble a few times with sloppy turnovers. He was also oddly slack in defending.

Christian Pulisic (8) - What else is there to say about the kid? His coolness in front of goal is well beyond his years. On his first strike, Pulisic waited until just the right second to burst through a crowd for the fatal touch. On the second, he got loose to blister a shot past the keeper on the gallop. 

Clint Dempsey (6.5) - The man they call "Deuce" wasn't successful with all the, erm, "stuff" he tried on this night, but his efforts kept the visitors guessing. It was Dempsey's fine looping ball to Nagbe that initiated the first goal play and he also dropped deep for some solid pressure valve moves.

Jozy Altidore (6.5) - It's probably time we stop calling his passing game underrated; the one-time ball that sprung Pulisic for the insurance tally was sublime. One note of caution, though: Altidore needs to stay higher more often when Dempsey is his partner. He was absent in the scoring zones on a handful of dangerous crosses.

Coach Bruce Arena (6.5) - The boss opted to hold off high pressure most of the night, aiming to draw the Soca Warriors out of the bunker. It worked well enough on this night, but his decision to go with a diamond midfield also had the drawback of opening space for some unnerving long shots from the top of the box and key passes up the middle when the US slid toward the flanks. This will definitely need to be rectified before heading to Mexico.

Subs:

Kellyn Acosta (6.5) - The FC Dallas Homegrown product came on to provide some added protection for the back line and moved the ball safely out of the US half.

Alejandro Bedoya (6) - Often dinged for his lack of end product from the wing, Bedoya did offer a nice centering feed during his 16 minutes of action.

Bobby Wood (6.5) - Though only on for seven minutes, Wood found time to ring the post after making a nice hang-back run.