Jorge Villafaña

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Player ratings for the USMNT’s woeful show at Wembley

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The United States men were hammered by England’s B Team on Thursday at Wembley Stadium in a disappointing start to the international break.

[ MORE: Match recap ]

Here’s how the individual players fared.

Starting XI

Brad Guzan — 4 — He’s going to get his chances due to a long track record with the national team, but his days as the presumed No. 1 must be done.

Jorge Villafana (Off 88′) — 4 — Not so good, Al.

Matt Miazga — 5 — The best you could say is it could’ve been worse for the Nantes man, as balls zipped through the 18 a bit too often.

John Brooks — 6 — A step better than Miazga, but would be better served in a back three.

DeAndre Yedlin — 5 — Active if inaccurate on the right edge, one of the players who looked the least intimidated by the competition.

Tim Weah (Off 76′) — 5 — Largely anonymous.

Wil Trapp (Off 70′) — 6 — Very busy in the center of the pitch, and probably the standout performer for the first hour in terms of the USMNT.

Weston McKennie (Off 76′) — 5 — Not his best day, but industrious in the center of the park.

Christian Pulisic — 4 — Had his moments, of course, but this was certainly not his day on a fairly decent sized stage (here in America). His 3 of a first half amended a bit by a 5 or 6 in the second stage, but the first part gets weighted because that’s when they needed their star. Heavy is the head…

Julian Green (Off 62′) — 4 — A couple moments of danger including a hard hit at Jordan Pickford, but largely anonymous.

Bobby Wood — 5 — Ran his shorts off, as usual, but lacked the instincts to prepare for a golden header chance and then dawdled in wasting a chance to spring Kenny Saief on goal.

Subs

Tyler Adams (On 62′) — 6 — A part of the steadying influence in the team during the second half.

Kellyn Acosta (On 70′) — 6 — Barely missed a beat in sliding in for Trapp, who had lofty responsibilities on the day.

Sebastian Lletget (On 76′) — N/A

Kenny Saief (On 76′) — N/A

 

Timbers sign USMNT left-back Jorge Villafana

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U.S. international Jorge Villafana has returned from whence he came, making his way back to the Portland Timbers after three seasons in Liga MX.

The 28-year-old Anaheim product was a key member of the 2015 Portland team that won the MLS Cup, making 33 appearances that season plus six more in the playoffs. He was then sent to Santos Laguna that January where he has been since.

“It’s with great pleasure that we welcome back Jorge Villafaña to the Timbers,” said Portland GM Gavin Wilkinson in the official team release. “We are thrilled to welcome [Jorge] back to Portland. He returns to the club as an even more experienced and seasoned professional, with his accomplishments with the U.S. National Team and his championship-winning success in Liga MX, and we look forward to his further contributions in his return to Portland.”

Villafana has 19 caps for the USMNT, all coming since his debut in January of 2017, and has only lost in three of his 19 appearances.

The Timbers used Targeted Allocation Money to buy down Villafana’s contract. They acquired the No. 1 position in the Allocation Ranking from the LA Galaxy in exchange for Portland’s No. 16 position, $75,000 in General Allocation Money and $100,000 in 2019 TAM, the team announced.

USMNT’s Jorge Villafana robbed, unharmed in Mexico

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U.S. Men’s National Team defender Jorge Villafana and his wife were robbed at gunpoint on Friday night, however, the couple were unharmed during the encounter with two men.

Police reports suggest that Villafana and his wife were looking to exchange currency, 400,000 pesos ($20,000), when they were robbed.

The encounter comes just 24 hours after the first leg of the Liga MX final, which Villafana and his Santos Laguna teammates took part in on Thursday — a 2-1 win over Toluca.

The two Mexican sides will battle it out again on Saturday in the second leg, which will decide the champion.

Villafana, 28, joined Santos in 2016 after completing a move from the Portland Timbers. In that time, the California-native has become a USMNT regular, while starting the majority of matches for Santos.

Three things: USMNT fails in bid for revenge on Costa Rica

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Three things we learned from the U.S. national team’s 2-0 defeat to Costa Rica on Friday…

[ RECAP: USMNT fails in bid for revenge on Costa Rica ]

Arena’s tactics a handicap from the start

Bruce Arena’s decision to play a two-man midfield — Michael Bradley and Darlington Nagbe — was a tough hole for the USMNT to dig itself out of. For starters, I’ll say this: it’s obvious what Arena’s thinking was in going with the two-man midfield — with Costa Rica playing three across the back, it’ll be two-versus-two in the middle of the field, and a fourth attacker is needed to pull those three center backs out of their shape. In reality, Los Ticos pressed like crazy, and without a third body in the center, Bradley and Nagbe were often left without an emergency outlet.

As for the defensive side of things, it was an unmitigated disaster. I briefly explained why Nagbe doesn’t work in a two-man midfield as opposed to a trio, here, and while Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream each had nightmares at center back, the wide open space in midfield played an equally massive part in both goals — especially the second. With no one free to step to David Guzman, Nagbe’s Portland Timbers teammate had all day to carry the ball through midfield, or, as he opted to do, slip Marco Ureña through with a simple through ball.

[ MORE: Player ratings from USA 0-2 Costa Rica ]

Playing through, not to, Altidore is the way forward

My headstone will one day read, Jozy Altidore is a playmaker, not a target man, why can’t any of you get this? Again on Friday, it was Altidore who held the ball in between midfield and defense, played runners through on the wings, dribbled at (and beat) defenders one-on-one, and set up two of the USMNT’s three best chances when acting as the fulcrum of the attack.

Trust me, I’m aware that a 6-foot, 180-pound physical specimen like Altidore isn’t supposed to be a creative genius facilitator, but life doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to do. Here’s the realest problem resulting from that, though: he really needs a partner up top, as he had on Friday in the form of Bobby Wood. Remember that midfield thing we just discussed, though, about Bradley and Nagbe not really suiting the two-man midfield? To appease the former, you must also concede the latter. With one or two breaks — the no-call on what should have been a penalty in the first half, namely — the other way, the reward ultimately outweighs the risk in this game; with those breaks all seeming to go Costa Rica’s way, you end up on the wrong end of 2-0.

[ MORE: Late drama for Germany; Kane starts scoring on Sept. 1 ]

The never-ending search for a left back

Here’s an excerpt from my Three Things post, dated July 15, 2017:

This was Jorge Villafaña’s chance; it was to be his Gold Cup; it was supposed to be his coming-out party; it was his audition for next summer’s World Cup — the one where he needed to step up and say, “I am the left back,” thus solving the USMNT’s biggest, longest-running problem. After starting the first and the third games of the group, we’re no closer to having found a full-time starter. It would have been nice, but at this point, we all knew better.

All of the above still rings true a month and a half, and another uninspiring shift at left back, later. At this point, I’m resigned to the fact that DaMarcus Beasley will start at left back, a position which he only started playing prior to the last World Cup, next summer in Russia, at the tender age of 36.

Player ratings: USMNT’s 2-0 loss to Costa Rica a big setback

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Player ratings from the U.S. national team’s 2-0 defeat to Costa Rica on Friday…

[ RECAP: USMNT fails in bid for revenge on Costa Rica ]

GK — Tim Howard: 4.5 — The 38-year-old was shaky playing the ball out of the back, which is largely par for the course, and was wildly out of position and slow to react on Marco Ureña’s goal in the 30th minute.

RB — Graham Zusi: 6 — Here’s a thing I said about Zusi, the right back, a month and a half ago, and I stand by it today:

During the first half, the USMNT played through Zusi on a number of occasions, resulting in two of its best scoring chances.

CB — Geoff Cameron: 4 — Struggled mightily in the first half, the first time he’d ever started alongside Tim Ream in a four-man backline. Cameron’s poor decisions compounded Ream’s struggles, and vice versa.

CB — Tim Ream: 4 — While much of Cameron’s issues appeared to be Ream-related, Ream was quite poor all on his own. His gaffe in the 7th minute nearly resulted in a goal, and he was the one turned inside and out, failing to see Ureña wide enough, on the opening goal.

LB — Jorge Villafaña: 5 — As a left back, it’s really tough to play with Fabian Johnson in front of you. The same issues which prevent Johnson from being a good left back play out further up the field, and you’re too frequently left on an island all by yourself. Unfortunately, there’s still no one better.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from USA 0-2 Costa Rica ]

CM — Michael Bradley: 5.5 — Asked to play, essentially, by himself in the middle of the field, Bradley did everything he could, but was ultimately outnumbered and overrun on numerous occasions. His long-range balls into the channels remain a top-two attacking strategy for the USMNT.

CM — Darlington Nagbe: 5 — Here’s the thing about Nagbe, the central midfielder: it works with a dedicated no. 10 playing ahead of him (see: Valeri, Diego; and, Portland’s MLS Cup 2015 run), but you’re asking far too much of him to play centrally without a creator further up the field. He’ll push ahead way too frequently and leave his partner all by his lonesome, which is exactly what he did to Bradley on Friday.

RM — Christian Pulisic: 6.5 — The kid’s a huge talent, but the most impressive thing about him is how consistently he’s in the conversation for best player on the field. The majority of clear chances had his fingerprints all over them, whether it was his dribbling through midfield, his vision and crossing, or making the necessary run into the box as a target himself.

LM — Fabian Johnson: 5 — What’s Johnson’s best position/role? He was asked to shield Villafaña from the front and press high when Costa Rica try to play out of the back, but he did very little or none of either of those things.

[ MORE: Late drama for Germany; Kane starts scoring on Sept. 1 ]

FW — Jozy Altidore: 7 — Best player on the field, especially during the first half. Finally properly cast as a playmaker, dropping into the hole and creating for others. I know, it’s hard to imagine a striker with his build being a finesse player, but that’s the reality everyone must finally accept.

FW — Bobby Wood: 5.5 — His hold-up play is really important for the USMNT, as is his speed which stretches defenses beyond any semblance of comfort. Only, the latter didn’t happen against Costa Rica, and their three center backs remained in lockstep for 90 minutes.

Sub — Clint Dempsey: 5 — 65th-minute sub did exactly what you’d ask of an impact sub: find the ball early, find it often, and create chaos, which is precisely the situation in which Dempsey thrives most. That’s a tall task against a defensive unit like Costa Rica, though. His petulant elbow in the 91st minute should have been a red card.

Sub — Jordan Morris: N/A — 84th-minute sub unable to have any real impact on the game.

Sub — Paul Arriola: N/A — 87th-minute sub unable to have any real impact on the game.