Player ratings are to soccer what box scores always were to baseball: the essential starting point from which to launch most discussion.
Here are Travis Clark’s player ratings last night from Top Drawer Soccer.
These can be tricky, and here’s a good reason why: What do you give U.S. center backs Perry Kitchen and Ike Opara? On the one hand, Thursday’s night at LP Field finished in a shutout, with very little for goalkeeper Bill Hamid to do. Still, Opara was had once by Michael Chang, who was Cuba’s only danger man in the attacking third. Kitchen also had his iffy moments with Chang.
The night didn’t demand better from them, but matches ahead certainly will. So I’d say the “6” for both U.S. central defenders, above average but not by much, was spot-on.
Clark saw just a little more in Freddy Adu’s night than I did. Adu’s free kicks and corner kicks were sharp (certainly better than some of Mix Diskerud’s efforts from the corner arch.) But he was a little tame in the run of play. I’m not saying Adu played poorly, not by any stretch. I just suspect there’s more ahead, and that he might have done a little more to cut up a Cuban defense that offered all the resistance of mushy fruit.
I also thought Diskerud’s passing and possession in midfield easily mitigated those underwhelming corner kicks. Clark assigned a “6,” mostly nicking the U.S. midfielder due to those sloppy restarts.I might have gone a notch higher.
Clark, who has monitored the U.S. under-23s as well as anyone in U.S. media, far as I can tell, raved about Joe Corona. Who could argue that? It was a night of quality linking play and even higher-quality finishing.
Here are Soccer America’s rankings for the compare-and-contrast thing.