- Not that it ever bothers me, but I got a decent amount of specific guff over a couple of my US player ratings last night and I figured this was as good a place as any to quickly address it. Many fans were aghast that I "only" gave John Anthony Brooks an 8.5, but the explanation is rather simple. Yes, he was terrific at the back for nearly the entire game, but he did get docked for being beaten to allow a good chance at a potential equalizer just before the break and he did misfire on half of his 10 passes in the middle third of the field. Besides, this was Paraguay's offense and there is a small degree of difficulty factor regarding the opponent; if he'd put in the same exact performance against Argentina, I'd probably have put him in the 9.5 neighborhood.
The other grade to draw some disbelief was the 7.5 given to Gyasi Zardes. Yes, I'm aware he squandered a great chance to double the lead, but c'mon. He did make a great play to set up the game's lone goal and even the harshest critics must admit that his normally aggravating first touch was nearly impeccable last night. Without several pressure valve plays made by the Galaxy attacker, the result gets a lot harder to post. And that's all I have to say about that.
- Let's play a little "Did you know?" regarding the defense as a whole. The last time the USMNT logged consecutive shutouts in competitive matches was back in the fall of 2013, when they made the donuts against Mexico and Jamaica in World Cup qualifying. The last time they pulled the feat in a single tournament? That occurred when the team registered three straight clean sheets during the 2011 Gold Cup. So yeah, good things happen when you field the same center back duo twice in a row.
- And one more round of "DYK?" for ya: DeAndre Yedlin received the USMNT's first red card in over 14 months (Jozy Altidore was sent off in a friendly at Switzerland in March of 2015). It was also the team's first ejection in competitive play since Jay Heaps was shown the gate near the end of that wretched 2009 Gold Cup defeat against El Tri in July of 2009. The Nats actually had to deal with
threefour red cards that summer, as Ricardo Clark and Sacha Kljestan got early showers in the first two games of Confederations Cup that June, and Michael Bradley saw red late in the semis (thanks for the catch, Ufficio).
- I gotta tell ya, I was quite shocked when a wide shot of Lincoln Financial Field was shown during the broadcast last night. Massive amounts of the upper two decks were stark naked empty, compelling me to assume the announced attendance of over 51,000 was well fluffed up. It wasn't the first Centenario match that had me skeptical over the stated fan count, and it's quite easy to understand all the empty seats considering the outlandish ticket prices for this tournament. I'm certainly not the first to notice the obvious problem.
- So now we look ahead to what one must imagine will be a quarterfinal date with Ecuador (note: at the time of writing, Peru were down to third place and scoreless against favorites Brazil in the early moments of that Group B closer). Yedlin is obviously suspended for the next match and Jurgen Klinsmann has a choice to make. Of course it's not what I would do, but my assumption is that last night's sub right back Michael Orozco will step in and the rest of the defense will remain the same.
Naturally, guessing Klinsi's moves can be a fool's game, so perhaps Edgar Castillo comes in and Fabian Johnson slides over to the right? We shall see, but perhaps that is preferable to simply slotting in Orozco. It may not seem a big deal, but do recall how Ecuador left winger Jefferson Monteiro put some scares in the US back line during their recent friendly meeting. Johnson can struggle with back post marking, but he tends to excel in 1-v-1 shut downs against dribbling playmaker types. Besides, switching him to the right could lend him the considerable track back help offered by Alejandro Bedoya, assuming the boss sticks with an empty bucket...
Urgh, I just gave myself a headache. Where, oh where, is Eric Lichaj when you need him?
UPDATE: Peru stunned Brazil 1-0, sending them home. We still get Ecuador next.
- Greg Seltzer