Matt Besler

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USMNT player ratings from a successful Copa America Centenario

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American soccer fans have had a week to calm down now.

The USMNT’s 4-0 loss to rampant Argentina in the Copa America Centenario semifinals was hard to watch, and the valiant digestif served in a 1-0 loss to Colombia only helped a bit with the hangover.

[ MORE: Hodgson takes the heat ]

The reality check was a stiff one for those who believe the United States of America should compete on the same level with the world’s best, and overshadowed what was a goal-meeting, encouraging run into the Final Four of a legendary and difficult tournament.

For those who see the USMNT as a project, it was still tough to swallow. A semifinal is a terrific result, but could tactics have helped against Argentina? Were these our best players? Should we have expected more from Jurgen Klinsmann?

[ USMNT PLAYER RATINGS DATABASE: vs. Colombia (GS) | vs. Costa Ricavs. Paraguayvs. Ecuadorvs. Argentina ]

And what about the players? That’s the question we’ll answer today, as we evaluate the USMNT’s 23 men from a memorable tournament.

Kyle Beckerman
Tournament dossier: 4 matches, 1 start, 90 mins total
He’s served the States well in the past, but his days being useful against dangerous attacking teams seem behind him. Woeful in a tough spot against Argentina (Rating: 4.5)

Alejandro Bedoya
Tournament dossier: 5 matches, 5 starts, 399 mins
3 shots, 2 yellow cards, 10 fouls committed, 2 fouls suffered
An integral part of the team and a big reason the Argentina match was lopsided, Bedoya nonetheless did not have the impact we’ve come to expect from the Nantes man (Rating: 6)

Matt Besler
Tournament dossier: 2 matches, 2 starts, 180 mins
Did a job under tough circumstances, and could be a left back option for the 2018 World Cup if no one steps forward (Rating: 6)

Steve Birnbaum
Tournament dossier: 2 matches, 31 mins
Limited appearances, and one big mistake. Happy to go with letters here for a promising player (Rating: N/A)

John Brooks
Tournament dossier: 5 matches, 5 starts, 450 mins
It’s too early to say he’s come into his own, but Brooks belonged on the all-tournament team after showing a lot more wisdom in positions and decisions. (Rating: 9)

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 21: Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina dribbles the ball against Michael Bradley #4 of United States in the first half during a 2016 Copa America Centenario Semifinal match at NRG Stadium on June 21, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Michael Bradley
Tournament dossier: 6 matches, 6 starts, 529 mins
2 shots
His 12 crosses were almost unrivaled on the team, with DeAndre Yedlin the only other player with more than four (eight). The motor was still going for one of the country’s all-time players, but at times he was surprisingly bewildered. The giveaways were alarming, and perhaps there’s an argument for using him further up the pitch. Offensive production was limited. (Rating: 5)

Geoff Cameron
Tournament dossier: Played every minute
Versatile and at times dominant, Cameron showed us he could’ve been the difference in last summer’s Gold Cup. (Rating: 8)

Clint Dempsey
Tournament dossier: 6 matches, 6 starts, 460 mins
3 goals, 2 assists, 19 shots, 7 on goal

Does this guy live for the summer or what? The ex-Fulham and Spurs man buried big shot after big shot one year after scoring a career best nine international goals. Consider these numbers:

Before Klinsmann: 22 goals in 75 caps
After Klinsmann: 30 goals in 55 caps (Rating: 9)

Brad Guzan
Tournament dossier: 5 matches, 5 starts, 450 mins, 18 saves
Led the tournament in saves and starred in several matches, including the stirring win over Paraguay, but had a couple rough matches along the way. Overall, he was strong enough to suit the side’s needs. (Rating: 6.5) 

Tim Howard
Tournament dossier: 1 match, 1 start, 90 mins
Only got to play one game as the younger Guzan gets every chance to show he can be a World Cup starter. Was dynamite (Rating: 8)

Fabian Johnson
Tournament dossier: 5 matches, 5 starts, 450 mins, four shots
Some fits and starts for the left back, which is understandable considering how often he plays left wing for his club. That said, as we’ve seen with David Alaba at Austria, as a star and versatile player you have to fill the biggest need for your national team. Johnson did fine with that (Rating: 7)

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 07: Jermaine Jones #13 of United States leaps in the air after scoring a goal against Costa Rica during a match in the 2016 Copa America Centenario at Soldier Field on June 7, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Jermaine Jones
Tournament dossier: 5 matches, 5 starts, 388 mins, 1 goal, 1 assist, 5 shots, two yellow cards, red card
Loses a point for his red card, which looks worse and worse upon review. Still, he’s shown an ageless quality in athleticism, his guile is emblematic of the team, and he’s going to make the World Cup roster unless the USMNT fails to make the tourney or he suffers a major injury (Rating: 7)

Darlington Nagbe
Tournament dossier: 3 matches, 47 mins
Has the misfortune of being behind a well-function three-man midfield, and has done well enough for us to ask whether he’ll get a look over or next to Bradley in the next friendly.

Michael Orozco
Tournament dossier: 2 matches, 1 start, 129 mins, two yellow cards
While we still would’ve liked to see Eric Lichaj or another full back who could hold his own over Orozco, he didn’t kill anything. Yes, even with his silly red card against Colombia (Rating: 5).

Christian Pulisic
Tournament dossier: 3 matches, 85 mins
Looked dangerous, promising, lovely… and 17. Will be a force one day, and the experience will help him (Rating: 6)

Chris Wondolowski
Tournament dossier: 2 matches, 1 start, 57 mins
His form in MLS hinted that he might be able to do a job for the Yanks, but he was statuesque at times and unfit as a hold-up player at the Copa America Centenario level. We don’t want to beat down one of the all-time good stories in USMNT, so let’s move onto this —

Please get well soon: Aron Johannsson, Terrence Boyd or Jozy Altidore.
See you soon: Jordan Morris, Jerome Kiesewetter
Improve: Julian Green, Fafa Picault
Please write letters to Jurgen: C.J. Sapong, Mike Grella, maybe even Will Bruin (Rating: 3.5)

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 16: Bobby Wood #7 of the United States battles Frickson Erazo #3 of Ecuador during the 2016 Quarterfinal - Copa America Centenario match at CenturyLink Field on June 16, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Bobby Wood
Tournament dossier: 5 matches, 5 starts, 399 mins, 1 goal, 5 shots, 13 fouls suffered, 11 committed
If Wood’s finish was on point, he would’ve potted 4-5 goals and been the breakout start of the tournament. That aside, he was borderline dominant and the embodiment of what U.S. fans want to see in their strikers (You know, aside from the goals) (Rating: 8).

DeAndre Yedlin
Tournament dossier: 5 matches, 5 starts, 408 mins
red card, nine fouls committed
He’s much, much improved and still has a long way to go. The motor is fine, and the speed is wonderful. You can tell he gained savvy in defense under Sam Allardyce at Sunderland, but still has to learn tricks of the trade like when a player like Carlos Bacca is going to give that little tug that pushes him to a razor-thin goal (Rating: 6.5)

Graham Zusi
Tournament dossier: 5 matches, 1 start, 138 mins
1 goal, 1 shot on goal
Not going to be the first name on the team sheet any time soon, but could prove to be one of the unsung heroes of a dicey time in USMNT history. His work in the big win over Guatemala kickstarted a rebirth of sorts that prove Klinsmann knows he has an asset in Zusi (Rating: 6).

Gyasi Zardes
Tournament dossier: 6 matches, 6 starts, 539 mins
1 goal, 1 assist, 6 shots, 11 fouls suffered
The most difficult player to judge in American soccer history? Klinsmann keeps trotting the big man out there despite matches where his body never catches up to his brain. It’s clear he has a great understanding of the game and is improving in wonderful ways. If only his first touch — which is not being criticized too harshly, could improve a bit — he’d be a 1-2 punch with Zardes that would overwhelm most back lines in CONCACAF. (Rating: 6)

DNP: Edgar Castillo, Ethan Horvath, Perry Kitchen

How will the USMNT line up versus Argentina in Copa America semi?

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Stingy up the middle and hopeful on the flanks.

That’s what we’re thinking upon further review of the United States’ potential formation in the wake of suspensions to Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya and Bobby Wood for the Copa America Centenario semifinal versus Argentina on Tuesday.

Argentina is a lethal side with the best player in the world, but the USMNT isn’t preparing like a blowout or even a loss is on the way. Instead, like any side faced with the task, the Yanks will try to intelligently devise a way to beat La Albiceleste and set up a final against the winner of Colombia and Chile.

[ MORE: Pogba’s agent admits Real Madrid talks ]

With DeAndre Yedlin returning to the fold, Klinsmann should opt to insert a veteran presence on the right side and Graham Zusi fits that bill. The coach want to double down on defense on the left while also putting Fabian Johnson close to his best spot: left wing.

The middle of the park is bereft of options with Jones and Bedoya out, so it’ll be Kyle Beckerman and not Perry Kitchen playing next to Michael Bradley.

The real interior issue is the limited bench options. With the three suspensions and third goalkeeper ruled out, the Yanks only have 19 bodies. Substitutions will be limited to Tim Howard, Darlington Nagbe, Steve Birnbaum, Edgar Castillo, Michael Orozco, Kitchen, Christian Pulisic and Chris Wondolowski

Guzan

Yedlin — Cameron — Brooks — Besler

Zusi — Beckerman — Bradley — Johnson

Dempsey — Zardes

MLS Snapshot: Sporting KC 1-3 Real Salt Lake (video)

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — The game in 100 words (or less): Sporting Kansas City might not be good. Actually, they might be bad. After breaking their seven-game winless skid last week, Peter Vermes’ side seemed to have turned the corner not only in victory but sheer dominance of Orlando City SC. Fast forward six days to Saturday night, and they looked the same lost side that zombie-walked through the month of April and the first half of May. Real Salt Lake came into Children’s Mercy Park, withstood a few chances inside the first 30 minutes, then rocked Sporting KC across the jaw three times in 21 minutes to secure a 3-1 away victory for their second triumph in this building this season. Most notably for Sporting, Matt Besler looks a shell of his former (read: 2014 World Cup and before) self, winding up responsible for two of RSL’s goals on the night thanks to all-too-characteristic gaffes. With the defeat, Sporting (17 points) remains seventh in the Western Conference, as RSL (20) catapult all the way up to third in the West.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of Rivalry Week ]

Three moments that mattered

32′ — Burrito finishes at the far post for 1-0 — The giveaway by Besler was totally unnecessary. From there, RSL made it look easy working the space out wide and feeding it to the back post.

45+2′ — Movsisyan finishes off Davis’s back — It’s just been this kind of month (or two) for Sporting KC.

50′ — Dwyer pulls one back early in the 2nd half — Jimmy Medranda, who’s playing left back, is now the no. 10.

53′ — Movsisyan dusts Coelho and restores the two-goal lead — Benny Feilhaber giveaway -> Besler whiffs on the through ball -> Nuno Andre Coelho can’t run with Movsisyan -> cool, composed finish.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Yura Movsisyan

Goalscorers: Martinez (32′), Davis (45+2′ – OG), Dwyer (50′), Movsysian (53′)

USMNT adds Pulisic, Zusi for injured Besler and Johnson ahead of WCQ vs. Guatemala

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Ahead of Tuesday’s crucial CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match against Guatemala, the U.S. Men’s National Team has made a few changes due to the injury plague that has hit the team at quite possibly the worst time.

[ MORE: USMNT player ratings from 2-0 loss to Guatemala ]

Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has called up Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi and Borussia Dortmund attacker Christian Pulisic for Matt Besler (concussion) and Fabian Johnson (groin).

[ MORE: Kane, Vardy guide England past Germany in friendly action ]

Both Besler and Johnson were absent from the USMNT lineup for Friday night’s 2-0 loss in Guatemala City, leaving the Americans in a precarious position in Group C. The U.S. currently sits third in the group with four points, three points behind leaders Trinidad & Tobago.

While Zusi has had national team experience in the past, the 17-year old Pulisic has yet to make a senior team appearance for the U.S.. The Dortmund attacker has previously featured for the U.S. Under-15 and Under-17 teams, but his recent Bundesliga success has Americans everywhere excited about the youngster’s potential.

Here’s the USMNT’s updated roster ahead of Tuesday’s match:

U.S. ROSTER

Goalkeepers (4): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)

Defenders (8): Ventura Alvarado (Club America), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland)

Midfielders (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution

Forwards (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

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USMNT’s January camp has recent history of producing reliable first-teamers

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As the years have gone by, and U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has had more and more time to make his mark on the U.S. program — expanding the player pool sits atop the list of positives of his tenure — the USMNT’s annual January camp has become less about debuting stars of the future, and more about extending an opportunity for the lesser heralded American player to shine — about one player each of Klinsmann’s four full years in the job.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

As such, recent history has shown January camp is much less likely to produce a future standout for the USMNT, and much more likely to unearth a hidden gym capable of becoming a regular contributor. The following players have used January call-ups and debuts to launch their USMNT careers to varied successes…

Gyasi Zardes, forward, January camp class of 2015 — Zardes made a staggering 19 appearances for the USMNT in 2015, after emerging the main bright spot in last year’s camp and ensuing friendlies. In his first 19 caps, Zardes managed to bag three goals while playing mostly as a left winger in Klinsmann’s 4-2-3-1(-ish) system. Like the rest of the names on this list, Zardes hasn’t been, and likely never will be, a superstar for the USMNT, but remains a useful and growing contributor 12 months after his debut.

[ MORE: USA vs. Iceland preview — USMNT kicks off 2016 on Sunday ]

DeAndre Yedlin, defender, January camp class of 2014 — Yedlin’s USMNT debut came on Feb. 1, 2014, and six short months later, the now-22-year-old had become an overnight sensation at the 2014 World Cup and signed for Premier League giant Tottenham Hotspur. Now on loan at Sunderland, Yedlin remains a first-team regular for the USMNT, if not a full-time starter. Yet another reminder: sports are all about opportunities, and what you do with them when they come along.

[ MORE: 5 USMNT players with the most to gain from upcoming friendlies ]

Matt Besler, defender, January camp class of 2013 — There has been no more timely emergence of a must-start-every-game player in quite some time than Besler, who in two months’ time in 2012 went from making his USMNT debut in January, to part of the team that drew 0-0 at Mexico’s Estadio Azteca in March, to anchoring the defense during a series of World Cup qualifiers in June. Three years later, Besler is still a virtually undroppable player.

[ MORE: Matt Miazga unveiled by Chelsea | Hiddink: “Squad player for future” ]

Graham Zusi, midfielder, January camp class of 2012 — Zusi’s rise from “nice MLS player” to USMNT regular happened pretty quickly; after making his debut in January 2012, the Sporting Kansas City attacker had amassed 28 of his 32 caps thus far by the end of 2014. That run obviously included the 2014 World Cup, where Zusi notched a pair of assists as the USMNT advanced to the round of 16. Now somewhat on the outside looking in, Zusi is just an injury or two — or a red-hot month or two of club form — away from being right back in the picture.

[ MORE: Freddy Adu is cool with his soccer career, and we should be too ]

Class of 2016 newcomers to keep an eye on

Perry Kitchen, midfielder, free agent

Tony Tchani, midfielder, Columbus Crew SC

Ethan Finlay, midfielder, Columbus Crew SC

Tim Parker, defender, Vancouver Whitecaps

Kellyn Acosta, midfielder, FC Dallas

Matt Polster, midfielder/defender, Chicago Fire