US Player Ratings: Clint Dempsey leads the way in Gold Cup semifinal win

The US national team put in easily their best effort of the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Saturday night, pushing aside Costa Rica by a 2-0 count to book a place in the final.

The home side softened up the Ticos for over an hour, but were unable to unlock their defense until Clint Dempsey came on to make the difference in a big win.  

Tim Howard (7) - The Colorado star came up big with an early kick save and added another good stop to keep the game scoreless just before the US found the opener. Howard also was a boss in commanding his area.

Graham Zusi (5.5) - It was largely an anonymous showing for the right back, who gets a notable red mark for badly losing a crosser while the US were protecting a one-goal lead.

Omar Gonzalez (6.5) - The lone demerit came when he allowed Marco Urena to wiggle free on the play that led to Howard's second save. Other than that, Gonzalez defended well and also moved the ball forward effectively.

Matt Besler (6.5) - The Sporting KC defender offered the Ticos a couple of chances with a purely gifted corner kick and a high missed tackle. However, Besler was very strong over the final 35 minutes.

Jorge Villafana (7) - The Santos Laguna left back pitched in with a prototypical outing. When he wasn't unnerving the visitors by pushing forward, Villafana locked down the attackers that came his way. Costa Rica's main tactical switch was to move Bryan Ruiz away from him after a dead silent opening half hour.

Michael Bradley (7) - There was a late first-half stretch when Bradley became impatient and was forcing passes. It was a minor blip in an otherwise solid two-way display by the captain, who vacuumed up all sorts of loose balls in the middle. 

Kellyn Acosta (6.5) - Like Bradley, Acosta struggled with a few turnovers late in the opening frame. The FC Dallas youngster then put in his best half of the tournament in terms of distribution. 

Paul Arriola (6.5) - The Tijuana attacker facilitated a couple of nice early chances with excellent build-up passes. Arriola can do better with his final balls, though, as only one of his crosses put Costa Rica under stress.

Darlington Nagbe (7.5) - We'll just let it slide that he allowed a back post chance to squirt through his legs. Nagbe constantly had the Ticos breaking their lines to chase the ball as he dribbled the US forward, and again struck up a nice flank partnership with former Timbers teammate Villafana. 

Jordan Morris (6) - The Seattle forward struck the woodwork seconds into the game, and teed up an Altidore chance mere moments later. After that, Morris was largely marked out of the match.

Jozy Altidore (7.5) - It was the Toronto FC striker's sweet one-time dink pass that put Morris in for the instant chance mentioned above. Though often frustrated, Altidore stayed in the heat of the battle until Dempsey freed him for the late winner.

Coach Bruce Arena (7) - Some will probably heap praise on the boss for getting a star super-sub show out of Dempsey, but that was a rather obvious move. Arena's best maneuver involved settling on the lineup that could comfortably control the game against easily their toughest foe of the tournament.

Subs:
Clint Dempsey (8) - It took the veteran just eight minutes to change the game. Dempsey mazed his way into the final third to play the perfect through ball for Altdore to win the game. After another eight minutes, he iced the game by curling a clever free kick around the base of the wall for a record-tying goal. 

Gyasi Zardes (-) - Mere mop-up duty.

Dax McCarty (-) - See Zardes.

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