USMNT Player Ratings: Lletget, Arriola lead way in win over Costa Rica

The US national team closed up shop on January camp by responding to Costa Rica's level of challenge to post a 2-0 friendly victory in San Jose, Calif. on Sunday. 

After a highly middling first frame, the Nats became both bolder and crisper. For long stretches, the team's best idea was to send Paul Arriola running, but late subs Sebastian Lletget and Jonathan Lewis joined him in the cutting edge department to help give new boss Gregg Berhalter two straight wins to start his tenure. 

Zack Steffen (7) - The Crew SC star's goalkeeping duties were never strenuous. Steffen did have some good distribution moments, including starting the play for the late cushion goal. 

Nick Lima (6.5) - The hometown hero was visibly game for this one, and he was definitely not shy about jumping into attack. Lima nearly got the scoring started when his insistent drive from inside the Costa Rica box rang the woodwork. Still, it wasn't all good news, as he had some issues in his own end.

Walker Zimmerman (6) - While the LAFC defender was the game's monster in the air, he's certainly seen better days passing out of the back. Zimmerman was also nearly caught in possession a couple nervous times, but managed to escape any punishment.

Aaron Long (6) - It was an okay (and not overly busy) shift from the Red Bulls center back, who neither wowed nor experienced any disasters. He can take more responsibility in moving the ball positively out of the back, though.

Daniel Lovitz (4.5) - The Montreal left back had some struggles during the opening hour, especially with working out the back. Lovitz did fare somewhat better down the stretch, but it was still nothing to write home about.

Wil Trapp (5) - The Columbus skipper had one shining moment turning defense into a promising surge into attack during an otherwise challenging opening frame. Most concerning, it was far too easy for the Ticos to go around or pass him up the middle. Trapp also badly misplayed some passes to teammates in promising offensive positions... so naturally he punctuated a considerably better second half display by keenly putting Lewis into space on the winning goal play. 

Cristian Roldan (5.5) - The Seattle cog struggled a bit through a clumsy first half, both on and off the ball. Roldan's aggressiveness picked up in the second half, when a few more of his late dashes into attack caused headaches. Of course, he also sadly dragged wide on a golden chance. His technique was worlds better on a late half-volley try that pinged the post.

Djordje Mihailovic (6) - The Chicago talent continued to show an aptitude for finding pockets to receive the ball, but wasn't nearly as precise with his lead balls and restarts as he was against Panama. His pressure valve effectiveness did improve after the break. Mihailovic was also a major foul magnet; unfortunately, only one of the six free kicks he earned were in Costa Rica territory.

Corey Baird (4.5) - The Real Salt Lake attacker was opposite Waylon Francis, but rarely ended up the winner of their battles. Baird also cheaply gave away possession a few too many times.

Paul Arriola (8) - The D.C. United flank man made the most of lining up on his off wing. Ticos debutant Keysher Fuller was never able to lasso Arriola, who regularly provided a threatening outlet down the left. After switching to his usual side late, he got the goal his performance deserved with a deft breakaway touch.

Gyasi Zardes (6) - The striker enjoyed a solid first half, dropping deep to do hold-up chores and releasing teammates. Zardes never found the big scoring chance, though, and faded a bit after intermission. 

Coach Gregg Berhalter (7) - The decision to ship Arriola over to the left paid off big time and he was able to get the team to recover from Costa Rica's first-half jabs. Even when some of their passes went awry, you can tell that Berhalter's done a great job getting everyone on the same wavelength. More than anything else we saw this past month, that should breed optimism in the USMNT bubble. 

That said, Berhalter kinda overplayed the Lima-vacates-right back-for central midfield card in the first half. Again, it works great when the opponent coughs up the ball, but also tends to complicate US maneuvers out of the back by dragging an extra defender to central park.

Subs:
Sebastian Lletget (8) - More of a midfield engine than a prototype No 10, Lletget was a real difference maker in attack. He started by driving the team forward with his wheels before eventually finding a cross first to open the scoring. The local boy made good capped an eventful 27-minute shift with the perfect nudge pass to free Arriola for the insurance tally.

Jonathan Lewis (7) - The NYCFC winger has now proven he doesn't need much time to create a big play twice in a row. Two caps, two assists, and the US looks to have a proper set-up wing threat on the rise. 

Christian Ramirez (6.5) - He was only on for 12 minutes, but Ramirez showed he's more than a deadly finisher. He dropped deep to aid possession, and then flicked on to unleash assist man Lletget on the capper. 


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