It certainly wasn't the prettiest effort, but the US national team squeaked past Panama to take the CONCACAF Gold Cup's Group B with a 3-0 defeat of Nicaragua on Saturday night.
Despite a disappointing first-half display and two squandered penalty kicks, the home side got the three-goal win they needed when Matt Miazga buried a late restart header.
Bill Hamid (6.5) - The D.C. United netminder didn't have much to do in his first US start since 2014, but he made the two saves he had to make.
Graham Zusi (6) - It was a rough first half for the converted right back, who put his defense under stress with a couple of poor early mishandles in and around the box. Zusi eventually improved, largely by supporting possession, and came through with a perfectly weighted free-kick assist on the late, group-clinching goal.
Matt Miazga (7) - The young defender wasn't tested much on the ground, but handled the air game well. Obviously, Miazga's big moment came when he raced around the far side of Nicaragua's defense to nod home the important US third from Zusi's restart.
Matt Besler (6) - Like Miazga, the Sporting KC veteran dealt well with Nicaragua's long balls. His grade dropped a little when he was AWOL on a dangerous late cross into the US box.
Jorge Villafaña (5) - Surprisingly, the left back failed to have much impact going forward and rarely interacted with the guys up his wing. Villafaña was okay defensively most of the night, but the red pen came out when he failed to close down the crosser on the late situation mentioned in Besler's blurb.
Dax McCarty (5.5) - The Chicago Fire man struggled to run the game in the first half, when slowness of thought saw him caught in possession a few times. McCarty picked up his game considerably after the break, though.
Chris Pontius (5) - Many of the Philly Union attacker's best contributions came when he pulled long balls out of the air. Pontius also made the effort to stretch the wingbacks, but failed to put the ball in the box.
Alejandro Bedoya (7.5) - Nearly all of the USMNT's positive rushes went through Bedoya on this night. He notched two deserved assists and won a penalty kick.
Joe Corona (6.5) - The Tijuana midfielder linked fairly well without shipping a final ball that will convince anyone he is a No. 10. Corona did very well to put the US on the board with a patient strike, but also gets dinged for a very poor spot kick attempt.
Kelyn Rowe (7) - After essentially keeping the US attack afloat through its poor first half, Rowe got his just reward with a nice goal near the hour.
Dom Dwyer (4.5) - The Sporting KC forward killed some dangerous moves with bad touches. Dwyer was bailed out for another poor touch with a penalty call, and then blew the ensuing chance from the spot with a weak attempt.
Coach Bruce Arena (5) - The lack of speed in his initial tourney selection again invited troubles against an underdog. One also has to wonder about continuing to use Zusi at right back when the team so clearly needs some set-up play and more quality crosses in attack. This makes it two games in a row in which the Yanks basically accomplished their mission by a bare minimum. Bringing in the regulars should help moving forward, but anyone would be hard-pressed to argue the team improved as the group stage progressed.
Paul Arriola (6.5) - In what had to be his most physical US appearance, Arriola offered some fresh legs push to the attack.
Jordan Morris (6) - Though he was unable to stick the dagger in, the Sounders speedster made the Nicaragua defense work.
Juan Agudelo (6.5) - With the team needing a goal, the New England Revs forward looked strong moving the ball during his quarter hour shift.