The USMNT is winless after its first two games of 2022 World Cup qualifying after drawing Canada 1-1 in Nashville, Tenn., on Sunday.
[ MORE: USMNT World Cup qualifying schedule ]
Brenden Aaronson gave the USMNT a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute, but Alphonso Davies sliced and diced the Yanks’ right side of defense to set up the equalizer seven minutes later.
On the whole, a few individual performances were improved from the draw in El Salvador, but the team performance and the result were still well short of the necessary standard.
Here’s a look at who stood out (for better or for worse) for Gregg Berhalter’s side, with some special bonus commentary (of the dissenting variety) from PST’s Nicholas Mendola (italicized)…
GK – Matt Turner: 6 – Once again, hardly tested (just two shots on target) but typically steady when called upon. Hasn’t had to do enough to fully supplant Zack Steffen as the no. 1, but hasn’t done anything to hand him the job either.
RB – Sergiño Dest: 4 (4.5) – Dest’s poor performance against El Salvador was perhaps explainable by the fact he’s naturally a right-sided player shifted to the left to do a very specific job. Fast-forward to Sunday, Dest was on the right and he had another nightmare outing. He’s not a reliable enough to defender to play right back and he’s not dynamic or creative enough to play as a winger. Is there a place for him going forward? After starting the first two games during this window, Dest was unlikely to start Wednesday’s game in Honduras, making the injury less of a worry for the USMNT (for now).
Looking like a more-hyped version of last decade’s DeAndre Yedlin, where his defensive naivete is glaring when his attacking game is foiled. Still just 20 until November, but that promise doesn’t do anything right now vis a vis 2022 in Qatar.
CB – Miles Robinson: 6.5 – The vibes are extremely good with Robinson deployed as the right-sided center back, whether alongside Tim Ream (game 1) or John Brooks (game 2). He’s a classically tough American defender with a nose for the ball and good emergency defending instincts. As of this moment, the starting job is his to lose.
CB – John Brooks: 6 (5.5) – The defensive veteran looked like a fish out of water against the speed of Canada’s counter-attacks, but his distribution and long-range passing proved key in setting up the opening goal. Tyler Adams roaming midfield in front helps to protect Brooks’ lack of mobility, but free attacking full backs like Dest and Antonee Robinson do him no favors to his left.
A mixed bag from the undisputed best center back in the pool. Had some dicey moments and at times looked a step slow, not usually something you’ll note from the long-striding Wolfsburg back. Hit some wonderful passes, though, and is a force of intimidation for the U.S.
LB – Antonee Robinson: 7 (8) – This is the best left back in the USMNT player pool, Gregg. Play him there, every game if you have to. Defensively responsible and dangerous going forward (as evidenced on the goal).
There were 1-2 hiccups in his own end but also a lot of good tackles and that’s before we mention his terrific night going forward. Had an assist and might’ve had a goal. Has earned left back status for now.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) September 6, 2021
DM – Tyler Adams: 6.5 (6.5) – Defensively excellent and in the right spot at the right time to snuff out a number of Canadian counter-attacks. As the USMNT attempts to work out the chance-creation issues at the other end of the field, Adams’ presence in consecutive games was like a warm blanket tucked under the chin on a crisp autumn night.
This could be as high as an 8 or even 8.5 if not for his silly and selfish foul on Mark-Anthony Kaye that deprived us from knowing whether Brenden Aaronson’s pinpoint pass might’ve set up an Antonee Robinson winner.
CM – Kellyn Acosta: 6.5 – Another request for Gregg: Please only play Acosta as an 8 in the future. His range of passing is far better than most people seem to realize. Given the lack of dynamism and chance creation from the other central midfielders this week, Acosta should start again in Honduras.
CM – Sebastian Lletget: 6 – Strong early as he teed Christian Pulisic up to hit the post midway through the first half, but faded as the game became more and more open.
RW – Brenden Aaronson: 7 – Scored the USMNT’s first goal of 2022 World Cup qualifying — a simple tap-in from Robinson’s cross — and tracked back to do a lot of defensive work, but couldn’t connect the midfield to the forward line quite like the USMNT needed.
LW – Christian Pulisic: 6 (7) – A mostly anonymous night for Pulisic in his first game back after testing positive for COVID-19. He played all 90 minutes, which could cast a bit of doubt over his availability for Wednesday’s game (no chance he plays the full-90 again). Nothing clicked for the attack as a whole on Sunday, and that fact was even more true for Pulisic specifically.
Did everything you want to see but score, demanding attention from Canada and delivering a number of won free kicks. Corner kick service was decent, too. Imagine him with better striker play.
CF – Jordan Pefok: 6 – Struggled to be more involved as he constantly battled three center backs for Canada, but his hold-up play was crucial in the build-up to Aaronson’s goal. Pefok brings a size and nastiness to the center forward position that no one else in the player pool possesses.