Paul Arriola

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USMNT player ratings v. Costa Rica

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The U.S. men’s national team closed out its annual early-season training camp on Saturday with its second victory, defeating Costa Rica 2-0 in San Jose’s Avaya Stadium. While it was a second friendly against a fellow CONCACAF side without its full complement of players, the domestic-based U.S. squad showed signs of improvement, especially in the second half.

Following a first half in which the U.S. weren’t able to execute its game plan, the team came out of the gates like a horse in the Kentucky Derby for the second half, and rode that wave of energy to victory. Take a look below at some of the standouts – and those who missed an opportunity to impress – in a match that was the last chance for these domestic players to prove they belong with the foreign-based squad.

Zack Steffen – 6

Steffen didn’t really have much to do all game. He made one save, caught one cross and his worst moment may have been slipping on the grass, as torrential rain during parts of the match made the field a bit slippery, especially around the goal mouth. Steffen did play the initial pass in Arriola’s goal, so he’ll get credit for that, and by earning another cap, his chances of earning a work permit in England continue to rise.

Nick Lima – 6

Playing in his home stadium, Lima again showed that he may have a future for the USMNT as an outside back. The 24-year-old had a shot clang off the post and he delivered some good service from the right side. He’s certainly a player to watch for in the next year or two.

Walker Zimmerman – 7

Zimmerman, playing again with Aaron Long as a pair of tall, physical centerbacks, recorded a second-consecutive clean sheet. Zimmerman made numerous headed clearances and perhaps his only fault was being out of position on a counter-attack, in which he had to haul down David Guzman, which earned him a yellow card. All in all, a solid performance.

Aaron Long – 7

The New York Red Bulls centerback continues to raise his game to new levels, and along with Zimmerman he’s forming a good partnership. Long’s distribution was neat, especially in the second half, and he held Costa Rica’s attack at bay playing a high line. He got into the attack on a couple of occasions as well.

Daniel Lovitz – 6

The first USMNT player with the Montreal Impact had another solid, if not spectacular performance at left back. With Arriola bombing down the left wing, Lovitz often stayed back and provided support. Overall, he contributed to a clean sheet but didn’t truly stand out, which is the sign of a good defender.

Cristian Roldan – 6

Like most of the USMNT players, Roldan really came to life in the second half, becoming more dynamic, attacking right down the heart of Costa Rica’s defense and linking up with his midfield and forward teammates. Roldan hit the post and had another shot go wide, in a play where he probably should have hit the target. However, his work defensively, was impressive, helping the U.S. win the ball back a few times and start a counter attack.

Wil Trapp – 7

Operating in the deep-lying playmaker role, Trapp used his vision and long-range of passing to unlock Costa Rica’s defense over and over again. He found Arriola in space countless times and even Lewis in space late to set up Lletget’s winner. Trapp, who along with Zardes and Steffen know Berhalter’s style of play, looked very comfortable in his role, though I’m not sure it was enough to become a permanent starter over Michael Bradley. However, the competition is heating up.

Djordje Mihailovic – 6

It was a game of two halves for Mihailovic as well. In the first half, Mihailovic wasn’t nearly as sharp as he looked against Panama, and had a few turnovers. Of course, he was also getting hacked all over the pitch, which may have made an impact on him mentally. He seemed back to his creative, normal self in the second half, combining with his midfield partners and leading to some goal-scoring opportunities. His best chance on goal came on a cross from Paul Arriola, but Mihailovic poked it over the bar. Mihailovic was taken off in the 63rd minute, likely to avoid suffering a serious injury after being fouled six times.

Corey Baird – 6 

Baird, in his second start, was a good outlet on the right for the U.S., especially in the second half, providing width. His pace bothered Waylon Francis at times but he was never truly a threat on goal, finishing with one shot. He was offside on his last moment of action, a header on goal that sailed over the bar.

Gyasi Zardes – 5 

Zardes had a few good moments holding up the ball, and he worked hard defensively, but it was a missed opportunity for Zardes to prove that he belongs with the main USMNT group going forward. Zardes failed to get on the end of a lot of crosses from Arriola and Lima, and Zardes finished with just one shot on target. He was substituted in the 78th minute, prior to both goals being scored. Perhaps that’s a sign?

Paul Arriola – 8

Playing down the left wing, Arriola was a threat all game long, even delivering some crosses with his weaker left foot. Costa Rica’s defense could not handle his pace, and he took advantage of that deficiency as well as all the space provided to create many second-half chances. He finally got his just rewards for a hard-working performance with a goal of his own.

Gregg Berhalter – 8

Whatever Berhalter said at halftime got the team to come out of the gates flying for the second half. Berhalter continues to press many of the right buttons, and his substitutes Lletget and Lewis combined for the first goal, while Lletget set up the second one. The opponent doesn’t compare to a full-strength side, but it’s a sign that Berhalter knew where to make changes (left side of the field, in this case) and just about all his second-half decisions were perfect.

Subs

Sebastian Lleget – 9

Coming on in the 63rd minute, Lleget brought more dynamism to the game as a left central midfielder, attacking down the left with pace and power. He was a constant threat to Costa Rica’s defense and enjoyed a dream sequence, scoring a goal in his return to Avaya Stadium, where he suffered a devastating injury the last time he played in that venue. He then played a perfect, outside-of-the-boot pass to Arriola for the USMNT’s second goal. Man of the Match performance in less than a half-hour of action.

Jonathan Lewis – 7

Lewis injected more pure speed and dribbling ability into the game and attacking a Costa Rican defense that was already gassed down their right side from dealing with Arriola all game long. Lewis’ creativity helped with his second assist in as many games, and he nearly set up another goal as well. Terrific performance off the bench for the 21-year-old.

Christian Ramirez – 6

Ramirez only had 12 minutes on the field, but his flick-on header in the 88th minute allowed Lletget to dribble into space and set up Arriola for the USMNT’s second goal. A small play, but little moments lead to big ones.

USMNT takes down Costa Rica (video)

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Sebastian Lletget enjoyed a dream return to Avaya Stadium, scoring a goal and providing an assist to give the U.S. Men’s National Team a 2-0 win over Costa Rica in the second of two international friendly matches ahead of the MLS season.

Lletget scored the game winning goal on a header in the 80th minute and with two minutes from time, Paul Arriola closed out a terrific performance with a goal of his own, thanks to a great through ball from Lletget. It was the first time Lletget had been back in this stadium since suffering a devastating Lisfranc foot injury in March 2017 that kept him out for 11 months. He returned to the USMNT last fall and made a big impression off the bench for new coach Gregg Berhalter on Saturday afternoon.

[READ: USMNT to face Ecuador in March]

“We talked at halftime about how it was a very difficult game, and I think in the second half, the guys rose to the challenge,” Berhalter told Fox Sports after the match. “Much more aggressive (sic), much more life, much more bravery and overall, I think it was a good lesson that we have to go for it, and the guys did a great job.”

After a passive first half, in which the USMNT turned the ball over frequently and neither team really found their passing rhythm, the U.S. came flying out of the game to start the second stanza. Right winger Corey Baird and left back Nick Lima each had decent crosses into the middle in the first few minutes, before midfielder Christian Roldan had a terrific chance in the box that he turned wide.

During this time, holding midfielder Wil Trapp was consistently finding Arriola in space down the left wing, a position where Arriola excelled despite being a natural right-footed player. In the 54th minute, Lima rattled a shot off the post in his home stadium, and Roldan clattered the same bar with a strike in the 68th minute.

The U.S. was by far the more aggressive side but it seemed as though the game was heading for a draw until the 70th minute, when Jonathan Lewis was introduced. The young New York City FC winger swapped spots with Arriola and was a constant threat down the left side, eventually leading to the game-winning goal.

Trapp once again played a perfect long-ball into space for the speedy Lewis to run on to. Lewis then took on his defender and looped a cross towards the far post. Lletget rose highest and angled home a header past goalkeeper Estaban Alvarado to finally break the deadlock.

Lewis nearly set up the USMNT again with some nifty dribbling and speed down the left, but his cross was cleared away. Finally, in the 88th minute, Arriola put the cherry on top of the win with a calm flick over Alvarado off a Lletget through ball. Arriola crashed into Alvarado and the ground after his chip but he seemed fine and was ready to celebrate with his teammates as the ball rolled into the net.

Up next for the U.S. is a friendly match in Orlando, Fla on March 21 against Ecuador. For the first time, the next window will give Berhalter the opportunity to call in a full strength side, and it will be interesting to see how he teaches his ideas and style of play to the European and Liga MX-based players in a much shorter time span, as well as playing against opponents with full squads of their own.

After a long January USMNT camp and a pair of wins, it feels that there’s a bit of positive momentum again behind the national team. Yes, both wins were against teams without their best players available, but the USMNT players quickly adapted to Berhalter’s style of play, and the dynamism shown in the second half, “going for it” as Berhalter said, was missing from a lot of games during the later stages of World Cup qualifying in 2017, especially on the road.

USMNT 0-2 Brazil: Young hosts no match for Neymar, Firmino

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Brazil coach Tite named a very strong starting lineup, with the likes of Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, and Casemiro. That was always going to be a struggle, and it was, but the United States was far from run off the field in East Rutherford on Friday night as they fell 2-0 to the World Cup quarterfinalists in an international friendly meeting.

The United States came out of the opening whistle with a very high press, and it seemed to trouble the Brazilians from the start, but the visitors began to figure things out and struck in the 11th minute. Douglas Costa straight burned Antonee Robinson who over-committed on the flank, and his cross found Roberto Firmino at the back post who had drifted back from an oblivious Matt Miazga. Brazil nearly grabbed a second as Costa again torched Robinson, this time cutting inside, but his ball into the box was fumbled at the penalty spot for Neymar.

[ COVERAGE: 5 Things Learned | Player Ratings ]

The US had its best chance down the other end on the half-hour mark as Yedlin crossed to Weston McKennie, but his promising shot was blocked. The ensuing corner resulted in a header by Miazga on a delicious cross from Julian Green, and again it went out for a corner. Again McKennie had a massive chance, but Alisson came off his line to smother the shot from the far post. A fourth corner again came sizzling in, but Wood couldn’t get his head to it and instead found himself shaken up on the turf.

Again Brazil almost had a second, but a Coutinho shot from the top of the box was blocked bravely by Robinson and Zack Steffen saved the follow-up from Fabinho. They would double the lead before the break when Fabinho went down softly in the penalty area trying to squeeze between John Brooks and Wil Trapp, and the referee pointed to the spot. Neymar sent Steffen the wrong way for his 53rd international goal. At the break, Brazil had most of the possession while the United States was left with little to savor.

With no substitutions for either side at halftime, Brazil came out of the break with the intent. Douglas Costa toasted Paul Arriola down the right, and nearly found Firmino but his poor first touch killed off the chance. Yet again, Costa beat Robinson on 52 minutes – this time through the middle – and fed a delicious pass to Neymar, but his shot was slowed by Steffen and eventually cleared off the line by Matt Miazga right on the doorstep.

[ MORE: U.S. to hire new head coach by end of 2018 ]

Sarachan brought on Timothy Weah and Kellyn Acosta for Paul Arriola and Julian Green as the game neared the hour mark, a positive substitution. Tite countered with the addition of Arthur for Manchester United midfielder Fred, while Douglas Costa was removed for Chelsea winger Willian. McKennie had a chance to put the U.S. on the board soon after, but he put his effort just wide on the end of a curling free-kick.

Another change for either side saw Gyasi Zardes replace Bobby Wood, while Paqueta made his international debut for Brazil replacing Coutinho. The U.S. nearly found an opening as Wil Trapp forced a shaky save from Alisson with a long-distance shot low and to the left. Down the other end, Robinson picked Firmino’s pocket to save a breakaway opportunity. The U.S. again had a chance on a set-piece with 15 minutes to go, but Alisson stopped a weak effort as two U.S. players came together for the shot.

With three minutes remaining, the U.S. had one last chance as Tyler Adams sent a cross in that went just over the head of Gyasi Zardes, while substitute Christian Roldan had his follow-up cutback cleared away. The loss is just the second for the United States in seven matches since the failure in Trinidad & Tobago, and will provide Dave Sarachan and the rest of the coaching staff plenty of tape to teach the players how to match up against the best in the world.

Three things from the USMNT draw with Bosnia and Herzegovina

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There wasn’t a ton to takeaway from a friendly nil-nil between the United States men’s national team and Bosnia & Herzegovina on Sunday in Carson, Calif., but we could find three things.

[ MORE: Match recap | Player ratings ]

That’s because “That’s Entertainment” is a song by The Jam, not a way to describe this match.

Playmakers needed in the Starting XI

In what would’ve qualified as infuriating had this game meant anything besides minor evaluation, Dave Sarachan kept Paul Arriola, Kelyn Rowe, and Juan Agudelo on the bench in favor of — in no particular order — Gyasi Zardes and Cristian Roldan.

There weren’t many chances in the opening 45, with CJ Sapong providing the best chances for the U.S. (Young Tyler Adams had a moment or two as well).

It was no surprise that Jordan Morris (above) and the rest of the U.S. squad found chances almost immediately once Rowe and Arriola were subbed into the match at halftime. In fact, a slightly tamer touch from Morris in the second half probably produces a goal that may have just busted open the match.

Opara meets his chance head-on; Zimmerman? Well…

Sporting KC center back Ike Opara is 28 years old and a much more finished product than the kid who represented his country at youth levels. He had some fantastic interventions in the first half, was aggressive when meeting Bosnian attackers out wide, and nearly mistake-free aside from giving away a free kick.

LAFC’s Walker Zimmerman, so good for some time in MLS, was not as solid as his partner, and gave away a bad but unconverted penalty kick early in the second half. A foul should’ve been called a moment earlier against the player he dropped in the boss, but it was a silly foul.

“Just had fun,” Opara said on FS1 after the match. “Sort out the aftermath later. It was a good time. … (I’ll remember) just the hard work that I put in over the years and the people who helped me get here. I know it’s my reward but a lot of people helped me get here.”

Absence makes the heart grow fonder?

This match was so non-descript and so much of a slog at times that it bears repeating the USMNT produced what was essentially a C-Team.

Don’t believe us? Assume 23 players in any given call-up, and here are nearly 40 players who weren’t there: Pulisic, Brooks, McKennie, Dempsey, Yedlin, Cameron, Chandler, Acosta, Bedoya, Gooch, Williams, Bradley, Howard, Guzan, Nagbe, McCarty, F. Johnson, Kljestan, Jones, Lletget, Altidore, Wood, Miazga, Lichaj, Miazga, Ream, Sargent, Saief, Spector, Hedges, Zusi, Besler, Beasley, Horvath, Carter-Vickers, Palmer-Brown, Feilhaber, Evans…

So while we didn’t really learn anything from point No. 3, we are reminded that it shouldn’t be surprising when two less than ideal groups culled from sides that missed the World Cup fail to entertain the masses.

USMNT, Bosnia and Herzegovina play to sleepy 0-0

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  • Second game, draw since World Cup failure
  • KC’s Opara easy Man of the Match for U.S.
  • Medunjanin misses PK for BIH

The United States men’s national team and Bosnia & Herzegovina staged a scoreless match that provided little entertainment for anyone other than a boisterous, pro-Bosnian crowd in Carson, California.

Philadelphia Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin hit a penalty kick off the post for BIH.

USMNT boss Dave Sarachan has two draws in his caretaker stint, but surprisingly did not use all of his subs despite having a number of players craving a first career cap (Russell Canouse, Marky Delgado, Nick Lima).

[ MORE: 3 things | Player ratings ]

CJ Sapong made noise in the first minute, running onto a long ball down the left and crossing for Tyler Adams to head onto goal.

Sapong then forced BIH keeper Ibrahim Šehić into another save, earning a corner kick after beating club teammate Haris Medunjanin to a back pass.

Adams earned a free kick for the U.S. from the right, played short to him and kicked out for a goal kick.

Ike Opara had a sterling first half up to the 40th minute when he gave away a free kick with a hard foul, but Bosnia’s quick-played corner led to a shot sent over Bill Hamid’s goal.

[ MORE: Ibrahimovic to MLS has “serious legs” ]

It was a precursor to his first big save, getting low to save Walker Zimmerman blushes when Luka Menalo hit a mishit clearance on goal from in-tight.

The game within the game was finding entertainment. Save us, second half:

USMNT head coach Dave Sarachan gave Zack Steffen a debut between the sticks in the second half, and brought on Kelyn Rowe and Paul Arriola in place of Sapong and Gyasi Zardes.

Arriola made an instant impact, sending a ball to meet a perfect Jordan Morris run. The forward’s cross invited Rowe, but the New England man couldn’t sweep his trailing leg to turn the pass on goal.

Morris then ran onto a gorgeous pass from Wil Trapp, and an inventive first touch proved too strong as he carried himself too wide to turn a shot on goal.

Menalo then turned the early stages of the half on its ear. He was allowed to get away with a 52nd minute foul, but Zimmerman then hip checked Menalo to the turf for a simple penalty. Medunjanin made Steffen guess wrong, but hit the post.

Roldan was presented with a tremendous chance to make it 1-0 when Matt Polster’s cross deflected into his path but was betrayed by his first touch. Rowe hit a magnificent pass to start the play.

Steffen got low for a languid slap of a Menalo strike in the 66th minute.

Sarachan then put Juan Agudelo into the match for Roldan.

Bosnia produced several good chances down the right as the second half crawled into its final 20 minutes.

Morris comically saw his shirt ripped through the chest on a 75th minute foul.

Omaha-Nebraska player Elvir Ibišević subbed into the match for BIH in the final few minutes of the contest.