The U.S. national team secured itself a massive point away to Mexico, inside Estadio Azteca, Sunday night, with many thanks to a handful of standout defensive performances, and a legend-securing performance from its captain.
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GK — Brad Guzan: 5/10 — With Mexico putting just one shot on target all night, Guzan didn’t make a single save. Someone else may have done better on the goal, but it’s a tough one to fault the goalkeeper for when so many things went wrong in front of him.
CB — Tim Ream: 6/10 — Of the three center backs chosen by Bruce Arena, Ream was challenged the least as the majority of Mexico’s advances came down the right side of defense. When called upon, though, Ream was solid, and was rarely isolated and hardly put a foot wrong.
CB — Geoff Cameron: 8/10 — On every occasion that emergency defending was required, it was Cameron who made the last-man clearance, interception or tackle all night long. Playing in the middle of three center backs really suits his strengths — passing out of the back, recovery runs, and one-on-one challenges — and covers up any shortcomings as an aerial dueler.
CB — Omar Gonzalez: 7/10 — Someone had to dominate the air as Mexico opted to play long diagonal balls into and around the USMNT penalty area, and Gonzalez was up to the task. Again, it’s a three-man unit which puts everyone into their own best possible role.
LM — DaMarcus Beasley: 5/10 — It should be said, Beasley retired from international soccer in 2014, played a farewell game in 2015, and was called upon to start the qualifier away to Mexico in 2017. Any shortcomings are hardly a Beasley problem. That said, he got beat pretty badly on Carlos Vela’s goal.
RM — DeAndre Yedlin: 5/10 — Matching up one on one with Irving Lozano is a challenge few full backs in the world would relish, and Yedlin struggled a fair bit early on before recovering nicely, even if with little impact, to last all 90 minutes.
CM — Michael Bradley: 9/10 — From the goal, to the near-god-status-sealing goal, to his breaking up of play in the middle of the field, Bradley was far and away the Yanks’ best player. It’s amazing the kind of performances he’s capable of putting forth with a willing and able runner alongside him in midfield.
CM — Kellyn Acosta: 6/10 — Plain and simple, Acosta makes Bradley, the USMNT’s most polarizing and important player, better. He was perfectly cast by Arena as someone who can cover acres and excel at playing runners into space on the counter. That said, it was his failure to take a chance-killing yellow that allowed the sequence which led to Mexico’s goal to continue.
LW — Christian Pulisic: 6/10 — It was Pulisic’s first “big game” for the USMNT, and his performance was mostly what you’d expect from an 18-year-old in a setting like Azteca: largely invisible with a handful of bright individual moments sprinkled throughout. The counter-attacking game doesn’t quite suit a player of Pulisic’s skill, so we’ll chalk it up as a learning experience.
RW — Paul Arriola: 6/10 — Though deployed as an “attacker,” Arriola’s real purpose in this one was provide defensive cover in front of DeAndre Yedlin, and the Club Tijuana man did just that through 45 minutes. His legs were all but gone in the second half, though, and he last just 20 more minutes.
FW — Bobby Wood: 5/10 — Reason for Wood’s inclusion was clear: he offers the speed you need when sitting deep and looking for chances to counter. Those moments rarely presented themselves, though, and he ended up the least involved player on the field.
[ RECAP: Resolute USMNT earns its point at Azteca ]
Sub — Darlington Nagbe: 4/10 — The only player who saw the field and truly struggled, Nagbe entered a frenetic, back-and-forth game at a really difficult time (64th minute, just as both sides were kissing discipline goodbye and engaging in an end-to-end affair. There are reasons, but it was easily Nagbe’s worst showing in a USMNT kit.
Sub — Jozy Altidore: 5/10 — Seven touches after coming on as a 79th-minute substitute, and just one pass completed. It was a key pass, though, and led to Pulisic finding a bit of open space and firing wide in the 89th minute.
Sub — Graham Zusi: N/A — 92nd-minute sub, brought on solely to run the clock down in stoppage time.
Head coach — Bruce Arena: 10/10 — The kind of gameplan and in-game management the USMNT has been missing since the summer of 2011, and maybe longer.