For a “transition roster”, this wasn’t too bad.
Despite some sloppy moments on a rough pitch in Bayamon, an inexperienced USMNT defeated Puerto Rico 3-1 in the first ever meeting between the two teams.
The side will have an injection of talent and first-choice players for this week’s Copa America Centenario preparation matches against Bolivia and Ecuador, and those will deserve some real inspection. But for today, three things will do.
Bobby Wood up to plenty of good
It’s been so long since we saw an in-form club striker bring that confidence to the United States set up. Even if the opponent was Puerto Rico, it was refreshing to watch Bobby Wood put in more than an hour of “Nope. You’re not stopping me” up top.
The new Hamburg forward sounded like a veteran after scoring his fifth international goal, a bullish run through the box complete with a calm finish in the face of chaos.
“We’re just looking forward to gradually growing as a team. We’re going to take it step by step and hopefully reach our peak by the Copa.”
If he’s not at his peak already, we’re in for something special.
Good day for debutants
Both Paul Arriola and substitute Fafa Picault made their international debuts, and both did plenty to impress.
Arriola was especially solid. The diminutive Club Tijuana winger worked well with Wood, showed a nose for where the ball was going, and even tapped in a goal to go with his assist.
As for Picault, we only got a limited sample size of the St. Pauli man, but he showed good speed and plenty of unpredictability. Given the opponent and a longer stint, a goal would’ve felt inevitable.
Defense/goalkeeper in fits and starts
Michael Orozco wasn’t an absolute nightmare this go-round, but he didn’t inspire a lot of faith that he could be an answer if Geoff Cameron or John Brooks pick up a knock during next month’s tournament. DeAndre Yedlin had a good turn at right back, and has definitely scooped up confidence from his time at Sunderland. Tim Ream scored a goal, but the Fulham man didn’t have his best days on the outside. Eric Lichaj showed us what we’re missing at left back, but Klinsmann didn’t include either in his Copa roster.
We know Brad Guzan is a pretty good ‘keeper in his own right, and he also has experience playing behind leaky back lines (Cough. Aston Villa. Cough), but he was way off his line on Puerto Rico’s goal. Still, we want to see a strong performance against either Ecuador or Bolivia, because right now there’s not confidence oozing from the big veteran. Tim Howard wasn’t really tested as the No. 2.