USMNT player ratings: Adams, defense will Yanks to Azteca point

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The USMNT picked up a point at Estadio Azteca on Thursday, playing bitter rivals Mexico to a scoreless draw in 2022 World Cup qualifying.

[ MORE: Mexico 0-0 USA recap & highlights ]

The USA was wasteful at one end of the field, but resilient and unbreakable at the other end. As far as performances in Mexico City go, there won’t be many better. The result, on the other hand, should have been.

Here’s a look at who stood out (for better or for worse) for Gregg Berhalter’s side, with some bonus commentary from PST’s Nicholas Mendola (italicized)…


GK – Zack Steffen: 7.5 – For a goalkeeper making his first international start since mid-November due to injuries, and having made precious few for his club side during that same time, Steffen was reassuringly confident on Thursday. He faced seven shots on target (saved all of them), showed both the short- and long-range distribution which once separated him from Matt Turner as the incumbent no. 1. As has been the case throughout World Cup qualifying, having two international-caliber goalkeepers is a good thing, not a bad one.

RB – DeAndre Yedlin: 6.5 – It really pays to have a backup right back with 71 caps on the squad, just in case the starter gets injured days before a crucial rivalry game. Yedlin stepped into the team with Sergiño Dest (hamstring) out, put in 80 hard minutes and helped to keep Jesus Corona incredibly quiet (zero shots, just one key pass).

CB – Walker Zimmerman: 7 (7.5) – With Raul Jimenez dropping into midfield in an attempt to pull the center backs out of position — either for Jimenez to play them in behind, or to create space for diagonal runs behind from the wings — it was imperative that Zimmerman and Miles Robinson be on the same page. One had to know when to go with Jimenez, while the other would stay. They handled that assignment rather well (zero shots, three key passes for Jimenez).

He gets up, he stays up, and he’s only getting smarter despite some very crafty Mexican talents conspiring to get behind him (They rarely did). The Nashville SC man has a legitimate chance to become the Unsung Hero of this USMNT era. He even had to win over Gregg Berhalter despite his status as the best center back in MLS — or the best American-born one, at least. Zimmerman is a tower who knows his limitations in speed and is finding his positional wisdom at the age center backs traditionally do so. If and when the Yanks make it to Qatar and if he keeps a starting spot over either Miles Robinson or Chris Richards, Zimmerman has a chance to become of the January transfer window’s biggest stories.

CB – Miles Robinson: 7 – Robinson had a rough start in the opening 15 or 20 minutes, but he settled in nicely thereafter and was continuously in the right place at the right time to make a key interception or clearance.

LB – Antonee Robinson: 6.5 – Offensively, Robinson was dangerous and always willing to throw himself forward. Defensively, there were a few hairy moments where he was caught out of position and/or ball-watching, thus freeing Lozano to run at the other Robinson one-on-one.

DM – Tyler Adams: 8.5 (9) – Midway through the second half, there was a 10- or 15-minute period in which Mexico were quickly growing into the game and putting the USMNT under ever-increasing pressure. Perhaps Adams sensed that was his moment to step up and singlehandedly keep the score level at 0-0. He made three defensive plays in a matter of moments — tracking back into the left back position on a counter-attack, and twice stepping forward to win the ball or break up a Mexican attack with a foul. Because there were no shots (let alone shots on target) resulting from these moments, it gets lost in the chaos of USA-Mexico, but each was yet another prime example of Adams’ indispensability to the USMNT.

While Christian Pulisic has the potential to put a 10 on the board in any given game and remains the USMNT’s best game-breaker, Adams has pretty much made an 8 or 8.5 his starting point. He still has moments that show his lack of emotional maturity — and perhaps that’s why Berhalter yanked him early — but if the sky is the limit for most, Adams performed just as well at altitude.

CM – Kellyn Acosta: 7 (7) – Every team in the world — club or country, it doesn’t matter — needs a Kellyn Acosta in their squad. With Weston McKennie (broken foot) out until this summer at the earliest, away to Mexico is a tough spot for most backups to step into, but Acosta had already played Mexico four times in his USMNT career (once in Mexico) and might have been the coolest head on the field. He provided the one thing the USMNT needed most against El Tri: stability in central midfield.

It’s safe to say that Acosta — besides his Jermaine Jones, Ruben Neves, or Granit Xhaka knack for taking wild shots from distance and rarely being on target — has finally found the potential that so tantalized national team fans when he came on the scene with FC Dallas. It’s very nice, like Andy points out with Yedlin, that the Yanks’ Weston McKennie alternative is the Colorado Rapids star.

CM – Yunus Musah: 6.5 – Musah was less influential than he has been in games against CONCACAF’s not-giants (to be expected), but he remains 19 years old and at no point did he not look like he belonged on the field. He was made to track back and battle more than he’s done in the past, and he showed there’s more to his game than slick dribbling and combination play.

[ MORE: USMNT World Cup qualifying schedule ]

RW – Tim Weah: 6 – Weah lasted just 60 minutes and was scarcely involved in USMNT possession or build-up. Again, that was to be expected given 1) Mexico’s stellar wide attackers, and 2) attack-minded DeAndre Yedlin playing right back behind him. Weah was committed defensively — a hugely necessary contribution — though his yellow card means he’ll miss the game against Panama.

LW – Christian Pulisic: 6 (5.5) – Pulisic had the first half’s best scoring chance in the 35th minute, but he somehow managed to put his shot in the one spot on the planet where Memo Ochoa could save it (below video). It’s hard to look past that moment, given the quality of the chance and the rest of the USMNT’s performance. He had another half-chance to start the second and forced Ochoa to make a (slightly) more difficult save.

Drew a couple of fouls in dangerous places but was a non-factor for too long of a stretch given his status. The missed point-blank shot would’ve been a fitting, “Now we’re back” moment for a player who’s become the ultimate thorn in El Tri sides. Instead, it stands as a huge miss (though not as big as Pefok’s).

CF – Ricardo Pepi: 5.5 (5) – Pepi remains the USMNT’s best prospect at center forward — and these games are important for his development, no doubt about it — but the Yanks got very little from the 19-year-old on Thursday. The reality of the situation is that Berhalter doesn’t currently have anybody better or more reliable to select, and so Pepi must learn on the fly.

Young players disappear and Pepi’s done that before, but he’s almost always found a way to make an impact in a USMNT shirt even on his quieter days. Not today.

Sub – Gio Reyna: 7 (8) – Reyna came on for Weah right on the hour mark and immediately looked to get on the ball, run at defenders and cause chaos. His long dribble through midfield seemed to indicate the 19-year-old (it’s so easy to forget just how young so many of them still are) is finally fully recovered from his torn hamstring and can potentially be a game-changer in the final two games.

Seems likely to start against Panama and the USMNT is flat-out going to cruise if he shows the craft and cleverness he showed at Azteca.

Sub – Jordan Pefok: 5 – A painful miss that conjured memories of Chris Wondolowski against Belgium in 2014.

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Serbia vs Switzerland: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Serbia and Switzerland seek a win that could seal a place in the World Cup Round of 16 when they meet Friday in Doha.

The Swiss can qualify with a win, or a draw if Cameroon beats Brazil and tiebreakers stay in Switzerland’s favor. The Swiss beat Cameroon 1-0 in Al Wakrah but lost to Brazil by the same score in Doha.

STREAM LIVE SERBIA vs SWITZERLAND

Serbia started its tournament with a 2-0 loss to Brazil In Lusail before drawing a wild six-goal thriller with Cameroon In Al Wakrah.

Serbia qualifies with a win if Cameroon doesn’t beat Brazil. If Serbia and Cameroon both win, Serbia would need to take the lead in goal differential.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Serbia vs Switzerland.


How to watch Serbia vs Switzerland live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Friday Dec. 2
Stadium: Stadium 974, Doha
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Three different goal scorers hit the sheet in the draw with Cameroon, and Fulham star Aleksandar Mitrovic remains a threat to score every game. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic continues to show huge value in the center of the pitch.

Breel Embolo has Switzerland’s only goal and will be continue to be a focal point, while Man City defender Manuel Akanji, Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka, and Nottingham Forest’s Remo Freuler make the Swiss a tough team to break down.


Serbia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 21
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 12
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs
Coach: Dragan Stojkovic
Key players: Aleksandar Mitrovic, Luka Jovic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Dusan Tadic

Switzerland quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 15
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 12
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Murat Yakin
Key players: Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, Yann Sommer, Remo Freuler

Cameroon vs Brazil: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Cameroon needs to upset qualified Brazil and get help from the other Group G game when the World Cup group stage hits Lusail on Friday.

The Indomitable Lions lost 1-0 to Switzerland before drawing Serbia 3-3 In a thrilling second encounter.

STREAM LIVE CAMEROON vs BRAZIL

Beating tournament favorites Brazil is a big ask but it will be a heavily-rotated and Neymar-less Selecao who faces Cameroon. Brazil blanked Serbia 2-0 in Lusail before beating Switzerland 1-0 in Doha.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Cameroon vs Brazil.


How to watch Cameroon vs Brazil live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Friday Dec. 2
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Cameroon defender Jean-Charles Castelletto has joined forwards Vincent Aboubakar and underappreciated Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting in becoming one of the stories of Group G.

Brazil still needs to find its answer if Neymar cannot return to the fold this tournament. Richarlison and Raphinha have impressed but still need to show they can really carry the attack without Neymar. Could Gabriel Jesus shine in his absence?


Cameroon quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 43
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 8
How they qualified: Qualified from CAF playoffs
Coach: Rigobert Song
Key players: Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Vincent Aboubakar, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting

Brazil quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 1
World Cup titles: 5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
World Cup appearances: 22
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (1st place)
Coach: Tite
Key players: Neymar, Thiago Silva, Casemiro, Alisson Becker

Mexico fall short of miraculous escape in win over Saudi Arabia

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Mexico scored the first goals and picked up their first win at the 2022 World Cup on Wednesday, beating Saudi Arabia 2-1 to close out play in Group C, but the margin of victory wasn’t large enough to advance to the knockout rounds.

WATCH FULL MATCH REPLAY

Instead, Poland (4 points) will join Argentina (6) in the round of 16 by way of their superior goal difference (0 to -1) to Mexico (4 points). For nearly 45 minutes, the tiebreaker in question was fair play points (yellow and red cards) with the sides matching one another identically at this World Cup.

After failing to score a goal in either of their first two games, Mexico needed an offensive explosion on Wednesday, and to some degree they got one. Their 2.10 expected goals were more than double their outputs from games no. 1 (0.72 vs Poland) and 2 (0.27 vs Argentina), combined.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Henry Martin got Mexico on the board just two minutes after halftime, turning home Cesar Montes’ flick of a corner kick at the near post. Five minutes later, it was 2-0 after Luis Chavez smashed a dipping free kick home from 32 yards out.

As Mexico pushed more and more numbers forward in pursuit of the third goal that would send them through to the knockout rounds for an 8th straight World Cup appearance, El Tri were hit on the counter-attack. Salem Al Dawsari’s stoppage-time consolation goal was the final, decisive blow.

[ MORE: Latest Group C standings, schedule, scores ]

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How to watch Saudi Arabia vs Mexico live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Wednesday Nov. 30
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

The Saudis have arguably been the most fun team at the tournament amongst non-powers, always running and getting exceptional goalkeeping. Salem Al-Dawsari was very good in both games but his missed penalty before halftime against Poland looms large of a match that could’ve been 1-1 going to the break and instead ended 2-0.

Mexico has not scored at the tournament so far, and Raul Jimenez has only been used as a super sub. Hirving Lozano and Alexis Vega combined for just three shot attempts before being subbed out of the Poland loss, while Lozano and Henry Martin combined for two versus Poland (Vega attempted five). They need better up top to keep up their streak of making Round of 16 appearances at the World Cup.


Saudi Arabia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 51
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group B)
Coach: Herve Renard
Key players: Salem Al-Dawsari, Fahad Al-Muwallad, Mohammed Al-Owais

Mexico quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 13
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 16
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (2nd place)
Coach: Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino
Key players: Guillermo Ochoa, Hector Herrera, Raul Jimenez

World Cup tables – Group stage standings in full

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The World Cup tables are shaping up to be very intriguing viewing as the group stage unfolds in Qatar.

[ LIVE: Watch World Cup en Espanol en Peacock ]

With teams now scrambling to be in the top two in order to reach the last 16, goal difference will make a big difference and it is going to be very tight and tense over the next few days.

If you need a reminder on the tiebreakers for the group stage, here is everything which will help you work out the two teams who will make it through and the two who will go home from reach group.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Below are the World Cup tables from all eight groups, as fans across the globe will be glue to these standings as they try to figure out the permutations needed for their team to make it through.


Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H

Group A table

1.  Netherlands — 7 points (+4 GD) – IN THE LAST 16 
2. Senegal — 6 points (+1) – IN THE LAST 16
3. Ecuador — 4 points (+1) – ELIMINATED
4. Qatar — 0 (-6) – ELIMINATED

Matches played

Recap/highlights: Qatar 0-2 Ecuador – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Senegal 0-2 Netherlands – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Qatar 1-3 Senegal – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Netherlands 1-1 Ecuador – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Netherlands 2-0 Qatar – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Ecuador 1-2 Senegal –  Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan


Group B table

1. England – 7 points (+7 GD) – IN THE LAST 16
2. USA – 5 points (+1) – IN THE LAST 16
3. Iran – 3 points (-3) – ELIMINATED
4. Wales – 1 point (-5) – ELIMINATED

Matches played

Recap/highlights: England 6-2 Iran – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: USA 1-1 Wales – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: England 0-0 USA – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Wales 0-2 Iran – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Wales 0-3 England – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Iran 0-1 USA – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor


Group C table

1. Argentina — 6 points (+3) – IN THE LAST 16
2. Poland — 4 points (0) – IN THE LAST 16
3. Mexico — 4 points (-1) – ELIMINATED
4. Saudi Arabia — 3 points (-2) – ELIMINATED

Matches played

Recap/highlights: Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Mexico 0-0 Poland – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Poland 2-0 Saudi Arabia – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Argentina 2-0 Mexico – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Poland 0-2 Argentina – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Saudi Arabia 1-2 Mexico – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail


Group D table

1. France – 6 points (+3 GD) – IN THE LAST 16
2. Australia – 6 points (-1) – IN THE LAST 16
3. Tunisia – 4 points (+1) – ELIMINATED
4. Denmark – 1 point (-2) – ELIMINATED

Matches played

Recap/highlights: France 4-1 Australia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Denmark 0-0 Tunisia – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: France 2-1 Denmark – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Tunisia 0-1 Australia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Tunisia 1-0 France –  Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Australia 1-0 Denmark – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah


Group E table

1. Spain — 4 points (+6 GD)
2. Japan — 3 points (0)
3. Costa Rica — 3 points (-6)
4. Germany — 1 point (-1)

Matches played

Recap/highlights: Spain 7-0 Costa Rica – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Germany 1-2 Japan – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Japan 0-1 Costa Rica – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Spain 1-1 Germany – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor

Matches remaining

Thursday, December 1: Japan vs Spain – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 2pm
Thursday, December 1: Costa Rica vs Germany – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm


Group F table

1. Croatia — 4 points (+3 GD)
2. Morocco — 4 points (+2)
3. Belgium — 3 points (+1)
4. Canada — 0 points (-4) – ELMINATED

Matches played

Recap/highlights: Belgium 1-0 Canada – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Morocco 0-0 Croatia – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Belgium 0-2 Morocco – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Croatia 4-1 Canada – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan

Matches remaining

Thursday, December 1: Croatia vs Belgium – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am
Thursday, December 1: Canada vs Morocco – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor – 10am


Group G table

1. Brazil — 6 points (+3 GD) – QUALIFIED
2. Switzerland — 3 points (0)
3. Cameroon — 1 point (-1)
4. Serbia — 1 point (-2)

Matches played

Recap/highlights: Brazil 2-0 Serbia – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Switzerland 1-0 Cameroon – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Brazil 1-0 Switzerland – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Cameroon 3-3 Serbia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah

Matches remaining

Friday, December 2: Cameroon vs Brazil – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm
Friday, December 2: Serbia vs Switzerland – Stadium 974, Doha – 2pm


Group H table

1. Portugal — 6 points (+3 GD) – QUALIFIED
2. Ghana — 3 points (0)
3. South Korea — 1 point (-1)
4. Uruguay — 1 point (-2)

Matches played

Recap/highlights: Portugal 3-2 Ghana – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Uruguay 0-0 South Korea – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Portugal 2-0 Uruguay– Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: South Korea 2-3 Ghana – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan

Matches remaining

Friday, December 2: South Korea vs Portugal – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am
Friday, December 2: Ghana vs Uruguay – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah – 10am