Player ratings: USA 2-0 Panama — Bradley and Dempsey steal the show

8 Comments

The U.S. national team enjoyed a fairly comfortable 2-0 victory over Panama at StubHub Center on Sunday, and — surprise, surprise — it was two USMNT stars who stole the show.

[ Follow: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

But how did everyone else from the MLS-heavy January camp fare? Player ratings for the 13 players who saw 30 minutes or more:

Nick Rimando — 6: Forced to make one huge save in the first half, which he did, but Matt Besler’s slip which results in Blas Perez racing in one-on-one was due to Rimando’s poor pass out of the back. Made way for Sean Johnson at halftime.

[ THREE THINGS: What we learned from USA 2-0 Panama ]

DeAndre Yedlin — 6: Dangerous going forward and relatively untested defensively before going off injured in the 72nd minute. In other words, we didn’t really learn anything new about Yedlin today. Fingers crossed that he misses little or no time with the injury and continues regular training and U-21 games at Tottenham.

Jermaine Jones — 6: Aside from the why’s he playing center back in the first place question, Jones was just fine against Panama. There wasn’t a ton for either of the center backs to do (Panama took just six shots, one on target), so the need to rush back and make wild, last-ditch tackles was non-existent.

Matt Besler — 6: The only glaring defensive “mistake” of the day was, again, the fault of Rimando, so it’d be tough to hound Jones or Besler for anything they did. Again, though, there wasn’t a ton to do, but the pair did a nice job of building out of the back, often opting for more difficult, dangerous forward passes. That part of Klinsmann’s instruction has been a huge facet of the game.

Brek Shea — 6: Much better defensively — though, again, which far less to do — than against Chile. Probably benefitted greatly from the structure of being told, “you’re an out-and-out defender in the 4-2-3-1,” thus he was much more mindful of his defensive duties. A long-term answer at left back? There’s still no way.

[ FULL RECAP: USA 2-0 Panama as the winless streak comes to an end ]

Michael Bradley — 8: Scored the game’s opening goal, provided quality service on most every one of his set-piece deliveries, was sound in possession but a little off defensively, playing alongside the less disciplined Mix Diskerud. With Diskerud playing deep in midfield, his partner has to know the responsibility to stay at home rests almost solely on him. That need was not catered to in the second half, which caused the midfield to become stretched at times.

Mix Diskerud — 6.5: Someone else described Diskerud’s current role with the USMNT quite perfectly: “Mix has figured out that winning the ball and passing it right to Bradley is usually a good bet.” Bradley was very good against Panama, in part because Diskerud not only got him the ball often, but did so quickly. The quicker Diskerud gets rid of it, the less time the other team has to react and scramble back defensively.

Gyasi Zardes — 7: Played extremely well at his home stadium in the first half. Not only provided the perfect through ball for Clint Dempsey’s goal, but kept things simple in the final third. Became a bit of a ghost in the second half, but then again, so did the entire attack once Jozy Altidore was subbed off. Please, Klinsmann, give Chris Wondolowski’s ever-present place as last man on the roster to Zardes going forward.

Clint Dempsey — 7: Completely uninvolved the first 35 minutes of the game, but was totally composed in taking his goal and threw in a bit of fancy footwork for good measure. Looks to be in mid-season form already.

Miguel Ibarra — 6.5: Extremely tidy and efficient in possession (just four misplaced passes), which is rare in a player’s first international start. There’s obviously a massive amount of talent in Ibarra, but will he continue to garner call-ups while playing in the NASL? I hope so.

[ MORE: Why the USMNT so badly needed to show well vs. Panama ]

Jozy Altidore — 6: Subbed off at halftime with hamstring discomfort. Was pretty OK in his 45 minutes. Playing more alongside Dempsey allowed him to stay higher up the field than he did in the loss to Chile, which is good news for Altidore. Linked up well with Dempsey, as expected.

Sean Johnson — 6: Zero shots on target from Panama (just one in total) during Johnson’s 45-minute spell means, once again, very little to do. He looked assured in commanding the penalty area and claim balls in the air, which is something he often struggles with for the Chicago Fire.

Chris Wondolowski — 4: The chance he whiffed on from five yards out, with an open goal ahead of him, undoubtedly brought back nightmares of the infamous World Cup sitter against Belgium. It’s been a while since Wondo’s done anything to help his USMNT stock, so one has to wonder how long he keeps getting that phone call with Zardes — and others — hot on his trail.

All other substitutes had too little time to have much effect on a game that, by that point, had creeped to a snail’s pace and lost any semblance of cohesive play.

Dortmund hammer Freiburg but gain no ground on Bayern

Patrick Seeger/dpa via AP
Leave a comment

Borussia Dortmund moved back within one point of Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich with a 4-0 win against Freiburg on Sunday.

[ LA LIGA: Real Madrid win to stay within striking distance of 2nd ]

Dortmund went ahead in the 11th minute when 19-year-old Jadon Sancho scored from the six-yard box after a run by Marco Reus. It was Sancho’s 11th Bundesliga goal this season.

Dortmund added three after the interval with goals from Reus, Mario Gotze and Paco Alcacer with a penalty.

[ MORE: PSG crowned Ligue 1 champions with five games left ]

In the day’s other game, Hertha Berlin was held 0-0 at home by bottom side Hannover, which ended an eight-game losing streak.

On Saturday, Bayern beat Werder Bremen 1-0.

With four rounds left, Bayern leads with 70 points, Dortmund has 69 and Leipzig is third with 61.

La Liga: Real Madrid win to stay within striking distance of 2nd

Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: PSG crowned Ligue 1 champions with five games left ]

Real Madrid 3-0 Athletic Bilbao

Karim Benzema bagged a hat trick (WATCH HERE) — his 19th, 20th and 21st goals of the league season (second-most, 12 behind Lionel Messi) — to send Real Madrid to a comfortable victory over Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu. The result also keeps Los Blancos within four points of capital rivals Atletico Madrid in something of a battle for second place behind runaway leaders Barcelona.

Benzema has scored 10 goals in his last seven La Liga appearances, a run in which Madrid have complied a 5W-1D-1L record. Benzema failed to score in Zinedine Zidane’s re-debut as Madrid manager, but has scored eight goals in five games since.

Sunday’s game marked the 300th league appearance for midfielder and 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric in a Real Madrid shirt.

Getafe 3-0 SevillaWATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Sevilla’s hopes of returning to the UEFA Champions League following a one-year hiatus took a serious hit on Sunday, as Pablo Machin’s side was hammered by Getafe, the side which now occupies fourth place, two points ahead of them. Getafe continue to enjoy their meteoric rise through the Spanish ranks, as they were competing in the second division this time two years ago.

Two of the three goals the scored on Sunday came from the penalty spot, as Jaime Mata and Jorge Molina converted in the 35th and 45th+4′, respectively. Molina completed the scoring eight minutes into the second half.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 1-2 Valencia
Levante 2-2 Espanyol
Villarreal 2-1 Leganes

PSG wins French league after 2nd-place Lille fails to win

AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain clinched the French league title without kicking a ball as second-place Lille could only draw 0-0 at Toulouse on Sunday.

Lille had to win to have any chance of catching PSG, but PSG is now 16 points ahead of its only rival with five matches left after this weekend.

After failing to clinch the title in the past three matches, drawing one and losing two, PSG can celebrate the eighth title in its history ahead of its home game against Monaco later Sunday.

It is PSG’s sixth title in the last seven seasons, with only Monaco in 2017 breaking PSG’s dominance.

Although the title was long expected from a side scoring 92 goals in 32 games so far, it took longer than it should have.

PSG could have won it three games ago, but drew 2-2 at home to Strasbourg when a win would have clinched it.

Then PSG needed a draw at Lille last Sunday, only to lose 5-1 in the club’s heaviest defeat since Qatari investors QSI took charge of the club in June 2011.

A win away to Nantes would have sufficed, too, on Wednesday night only for PSG to lose 3-2 .

The 10 goals conceded in those three games made for PSG’s worst defensive record during a three-game spell since 1985.

Also Sunday, striker Kalifa Coulibaly scored twice as 13th-place Nantes beat 17th-place Amiens 3-2.

Later, Saint-Etienne needed a draw at Reims to move above Marseille and into fourth place.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Klopp hails Liverpool mettle in face of “proper banana skin”

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jurgen Klopp knows that more than a few clubs would’ve slipped up Sunday at Cardiff City, given the hosts’ desperation and the visitors’ midweek triumph, but his Reds stood up to the test.

[ RECAP: Cardiff 0-2 Liverpool ]

Liverpool beat Cardiff City 2-0, scoring a pair of second half goals to go back atop the Premier League before Manchester City plays its final match-in-hand of the season in a midweek Manchester Derby.

“It was prepared to be a proper banana skin and we knew that, the boys were unbelievable,” Klopp said after his team kept a second consecutive clean sheet.

He insists that he’s not feeling pressure as Liverpool may need to win every one of its matches and get help to capture its first Premier League crown.

“I only know about me and I didn’t feel it (the pressure) we have to do it like we do it. We cannot change it. The boys try really with all they have, we only speak about the things we have to do. Their attitude is outstanding and it’s a tough season but a very positive one as well.”

Liverpool has two banana skins left, a visit from Huddersfield and trip to Newcastle, closing out the league slate with Wolves at Anfield.