Tab Ramos made an important structural alteration to the lineup and his crew responded by eliminating the mistakes that doomed their opening tilt against Ukraine. A couple of strong Sebastian Soto finishes and some fine Brady Scott stops later, and the Baby Nats will enter their group closer against Qatar with one foot firmly in the knockout round door.
As a periodic reminder, all grades are handed out on a scale with "6" as average. The marks are also relative to pitch time, meaning that a "7" awarded for a full shift is more impressive than one given out for a 15-minute outing.
Brady Scott (8) — Even with Soto's heroics, here's your man of the match. Scott cruelly turned away a couple of first-half stingers, made the rest of his six saves look easy and handled crosses with authority.
Sergino Dest (6) — It wasn't a flawless outing and Dest certainly can work on his attack chemistry with flank mate Konrad de la Fuente, but the right back put on a much more controlled display. For the most part, he dealt with Nigeria's speed quite well.
Chris Richards (7) — The Bayern Munich II hotshot handled business like a pro until an injury forced him off at the hour mark. Richards was particularly strong in the air.
Aboubacar Keita (5.5) — The left center back was more trouble than he was worth in the opening frame, especially with the ball at his feet. Keita was far more sturdy after the break, a necessary rally that lifted his grade up to near passing.
Chris Gloster (7) — The Hannover 96 II left back had his full game going on Monday night. Gloster managed some hairy situations at the back and got forward to coolly set up the team's second goal.
Chris Durkin (6.5) — The D.C. United d-mid was worlds better with the ball in this one, especially in the first half. Durkin did have stray issues lassoing Nigeria runners up the gut, but gosh, who wouldn't?
Paxton Pomykal (7) — The FC Dallas breakout player allowed teammates to do more of the heavy lifting in the playmaking department, and the team benefited. Pomykal was able to sit a little deeper to administrate possession and initiate rushes.
Alex Mendez (7.5) — For the lion's share of his 77 minutes, the Freiburg youngster was the smoothest player on the field. Mendez repeatedly released US wing threats, broke lines up the middle and again unnerved a 'keeper with his long range shooting attempts. His frozen rope of a corner serve on Soto's opener was pure class.
Konrad de la Fuente (5.5) — For the second straight game, de la Fuente routinely teased by getting the ball in good positions only to let down with his decision-making. At the same time, the Barcelona hopeful faithfully busted his hump to make some important interventions on the track-back.
Timothy Weah (5.5) — Another winger, another grade partially saved by a few key incidents. Most notably, Weah dropped deep to release Gloster on the insurance goal play. He also got loose a couple times and threatened with a quality low drive that was palmed away. And yet, one can't help but wish for more from the speedster.
Sebastian Soto (7) — Once again, Soto's on-the-ball decisions around the box and back-to-goal play left a whole lot to be desired. On the other hand, there was certainly nothing askew about his final touch in front of goal. The Hannover 96 prospect opened with a firm header and sealed the deal with a nifty chip. The very definition of a hot-and-cold shift.
Coach Tab Ramos (7) — As he tends to do at these tournaments, the boss made good adjustments after a rough result. Pushing Weah out wide and returning to his usual 4-3-3 set paid off. The team was more sound in operation, even when its best defender was forced to the sideline.
Mark McKenzie (6.5) — Shortly after entering the fray, the Philly Union man was rescued from a highly questionable penalty sentence by a correct offside call. From there on out, McKenzie stood tall when needed.
Brandon Servania (6) — The midfield sub did what he's was supposed to do, filling defensive space and keeping the ball flowing away from the US end when it came to him.
Justin Rennicks (-) — Helped the team back this "W" into the garage.