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Rating the US Players Against Cuba

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Rating the US Players Against Cuba
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The United States men’s national team continued its fine play of late, beating Cuba 4-1 in its second match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The match got off to a tepid start for the Yanks as Cuba netted first midway through the opening frame, gaining a surprising 1-0 lead thanks to a counterattack goal from Jose Alfonso.

Landon Donovan equalled right before halftime from the penalty spot after full-back Edgar Castillo was taken down in the box during a penetrating forward run.

The second half was all U.S., as midfielder Joe Corona gave the home side the lead for good with a beautiful strike from outside the 18-yard box.

Substitute Chris Wondolowski provided two more insurance goals, as the U.S. cruised to another three points.

Here are the player grades based on a scale of 1-10 (10 = near-perfect performance, 1 = utterly dreadful).

 

Starting 11

Nick Rimando (7)—Not much Rimando could do to stop Cuba’s goal. Other than that, it was a benign affair for the Real Salt Lake netminder. Per usual, Rimando used his feet with grace and answered the bell on the few other occasions for which he was called.

Tony Beltran (6)—A fine performance from Beltran, who was solid in simple possession and by no means at fault on the goal. Other than that, not too much to say for Beltran, who maybe could have gotten forward on the wing more often.

Michael Orozco Fiscal (6)—Rarely tested, Orozco professionally distributed out of the back and was positioned effectively: a relatively relaxing day at the office for the center back.

Oguchi Onyewu (5)—The captain on the day will definitely look at the tape of Cuba’s goal and wish he had reacted quicker. He looked a bit slow in general, too, but overall was serviceable in possession and his usual dominate self in the air.

Edgar Castillo (6.5)—Grade would have been far higher had he not got beaten twice on the Cuba goal. Other than that, though, Castillo was dangerous getting forward on the flank and provided a consistent wing threat for the U.S.

Joe Corona (8.5)—Very good stuff from the winger on the afternoon: His game-winning strike was a beauty, and his offensive contributions were prolific and dangerous. Kept the ball when necessary, too. This is a performance manager Jurgen Klinsmann will surely remember.

Kyle Beckerman (7)—This was another solid tempo-keeping performance from the hometown hero, Kyle Beckerman. No. 6 admirably protected the back four and cut out numerous Cuban counterattacks. His forward passing was also accurate and crisply weighted.

Stuart Holden (5)—Holden played far deeper than he has for Klinsmann the past few matches, which may have affected his performance. He was not able get far enough in the final third to distribute the sort of incisive through passes that make him an appealing midfield option. Certainly not as much creativity as he is usually capable of.

Brek Shea (4)—Shea will definitely want to forget this 45-minute performance. His passing was errant at times and most of his crosses were off point. Not as successful taking defenders on, either. Perhaps rust from lack of playing time during Stoke’s Premier League campaign is showing up in Shea’s game.

Herculez Gomez (5)—Not a lot of service came Gomez’s way, so he is not completely at fault for his average rating. He made up for lack of touches by hustling and working defensively without the ball.

Landon Donovan (8)—Not only did he coolly finish another penalty to tie the match right before halftime, but he also set the play up, too, combining with Edgar Castillo on an effectively weighted wall pass. LD was dangerous all game long and continues to show why there are so few players in the U.S. pool with his sort of dynamism.

 

Substitutes

Jose Torres (6)—Torres was clean in possession and a nice change of pace from Shea on the left flank. Served up a few teasing free kicks, as well: a solid technical shift by the left-footer.

Chris Wondolowski (8.5)—What more can a coach ask for from a substitute striker? The reigning MLS MVP buried two big chances and could have had a third, no doubt. He might not be the fastest player on the pitch, but Wondolowski showed once again why he is a true striker: fearless, good at getting open in the box and capable of finishing from close range.

Mix Diskerud (6)—Nice one-touch passing from Diskerud in his substitute performance. Most of the U.S. offense went through Beckerman while he was on the field, though, so he was not on the ball a tremendous amount. Perhaps he is better served on the wing, to utilize his speed and dribbling more so than in the middle.  

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