The United States men’s national team roundly defeated Guatemala on Friday night, 6-0. The match was a warm-up for the upcoming Gold Cup and featured many players who are on the fringe of the “normal” U.S. lineup.
With the 2014 World Cup less than a year away, which players helped or hurt their chances to make the 23-man roster for Brazil?
Mix Diskerud had a very strong game on Friday, coming into the game as a substitute at the half. And, in comparison to the performances of Kyle Beckerman and Jose Torres, who played center midfield in the first half, Diskerud was downright electric.
It was evident early on that Diskerud’s technical ability, vision and composure on the ball under pressure was light years ahead of Beckerman and Torres and, with a strong year for club and country, Diskerud could even slide ahead of usually-preferred Sacha Kljestan to fill out the U.S.’ options at center mid.
Despite a myriad of so-so performances for the USMNT in the Jurgen Klinsmann era, Kyle Beckerman continues to get call-ups to the national team and continues to earn minutes. Friday night was another example of Beckerman’s inability to raise his game to the international level. He wasn’t poor, but in comparison to the show put on by second-half center midfield subs Mix Diskerud and Stuart Holden, Beckerman is downright pedestrian.
Landon Donovan marked his return to the USMNT with a solid performance on Friday, scoring twice and setting up a third goal. He started off slowly, but eventually became one of the brightest players for the U.S., especially when he was moved more centrally after the first 30 minutes.
It was a reminder from the U.S.’ all-time goals and assists leader that he still has much to offer the USMNT.
After being largely exiled from the team for the past year, Jose Torres finally worked his way back into the squad on Friday night. However, he promptly failed to impress in his 45 minutes in the middle after being given the start.
With Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Geoff Cameron virtual shoe-ins for the roster and Maurice Edu, Danny Williams, Kyle Beckerman, Sacha Kljestan, Stuart Holden and Mix Diskerud fighting for the remaining center midfield spot(s), Torres is increasingly likely to be one of the odd men out.
After a year filled with injuries and few appearances for either club or country, Brek Shea did well on Friday night to remind Klinsmann and the U.S. fan base of what he can do on the left flank for the Americans.
He was fearlessly aggressive on the dribble and provided some nice service from the flank, assisting on Alejandro Bedoya’s goal. He certainly could have done better with some of his shots, but Shea, who is returning to Stoke for preseason and will miss the Gold Cup, certainly helped his cause.
A frequent call-up of Jurgen Klinsmann’s who rarely receives any playing time, Joe Corona had a big opportunity to impress on Friday and failed to do so. He started as the team’s attacking midfielder, but the U.S. attack did not come to life until he was moved out of the middle.
Throughout the match, Corona took too many touches, lost the ball on a number of occasions and struggled to provide the team with any creativity. Certainly, this game only represented one opportunity for Corona, but with so much competition in the U.S. midfield pool, he certainly didn’t help himself.
With his solid performances in the U.S.’s June matches, Beasley doesn’t have anything to prove right now to Jurgen Klinsmann or U.S. fans, but he still did a nice job reminding everyone that he is in the form of his life right now.
Beasley was a menace up the left flank all night, on the dribble and with his services and looks to have a starting position with the team completely locked up for the time being.
It has been a rough month for Edgar Castillo. Following a strong Liga MX campaign, Castillo was expected to come into the U.S. camp this spring and win the left-back job. However, after a number of subpar performances, including on Friday against Guatemala, Castillo may be in a position where he doesn’t even get called up anymore.
Brek Shea, Graham Zusi, Fabian Johnson, Landon Donovan, Herculez Gomez and Eddie Johnson (to say nothing of Jurgen Klinsmann favorite Brad Davis), appear to be the front-runners to play on the wing and DaMarcus Beasley and Fabian Johnson are the obvious choices right now at left-back. Castillo may be in the process of playing himself right off the World Cup roster.
In a fiery reminder to Jurgen Klinsmann and U.S. fans on Friday night, Stuart Holden showed that no preliminary World Cup roster discussion should exclude Holden.
On Friday, Holden entered the game at the half and promptly jump-started the U.S. attack, spraying balls all over the pitch and switching the point of attack with 50-yard pinpoint passes.
He sprang through the middle on a number of occasions, almost ending up on the scoresheet himself and proved to anyone watching that he is healthy and ready to contribute. If Holden is able to put together more performances like he did against Guatemala, he will likely knock Sacha Kljestan off the roster completely.
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