Player Notes: Takeaways and Ratings from the United States League of Nations vs.Mexico
There is no such thing as the US versus Mexico when there is something at stake. It can bring out the best (and worst) of the players and coaches involved. We have seen this happen in the Spectacular victory for the United States 3-2 Sunday in several ways.
1) McKennie, Reyna and Pulisic finally take matters into their own hands: With Tyler Adams, they are the best players of the American team and this final was the opportunity for them to finally put their mark on this team. McKennie had the best game, Pulisic had the biggest play (as captain) and Reyna had the most noticeable improvement over the camp’s three games. It is their USMNT that is advancing in good times as in bad times with a little over a year before a World Cup.
2) The United States Discovered The Recipe For Success: When it comes to national teams, it is unrealistic to expect teams to come together every three months to play smooth and attacking football. Success at the international level invariably comes down to having world-class players who can make big plays and make as few big mistakes as possible, while giving maximum effort. The United States did all of these things better than Mexico overnight. It always helps when you dominate virtually every set piece.
3) Mexico needs a striker (and a few young players): It is clear that while Mexico had a real point of reference in attack that could (a) keep defenders busy and (b) offer passing options and (c) run runs that open up space, their offensive talent of world class (Chucky Lozano, Tecatito Corona and Diego Lainez) could be so much more effective. Henry Martin and the false nine are not the answer.
They must also emulate the United States and accelerate the generational change in key positions in the run-up to a World Cup: Hector Moreno (33), Hector Herrera (31) and Andres Guardado (34) are not more players than they once were. We probably would have seen this happen in Nations League games if an Olympic camp (under 23) had not been held at the same time.
Player ratings: USA vs Mexico
Zack Steffen: 6
Before leaving the pitch with a knee injury, he made a few key saves. There was little he could do to stop Mexico’s opening goal.
Destination of Sergino: 4.5
He was never able to enter the game, let alone leave a mark on it. Very unusual performance for him. No surprise, he was replaced on time.
Tim Ream: 5.5
It was a bit of a puzzle that he was named to start a game at left center-back (and later left-back) against a trio of quick Mexican forwards. His lack of speed has been exhibited on several games. Despite the challenges, he remained generally calm at night.
John Brooks: 6
That’s a lot of good with Brooks’ bad. He’s an aggressive defender and got a yellow card in the 10th minute. But he did well to handle the situation without losing the bite of his game.
Mark McKenzie: 5.5
His mistake led to Mexico’s goal in the 2nd minute and his hand ball triggered a late penalty from Mexico. But he bounced back from the mistake at the start and coped well despite having to chase Tecatito Corona and Chucky Lozano all night. It was not an easy task.
ByAndré Yedlin: 6
With the license given to Dest on the left, Yedlin was more of a stay-at-home in this game. He had his hands full all night with Corona first, then Lozano.
Kellyn Acosta: 6.5
American fans would like a central midfielder who dictates the game through passing. But not all games turn out that way and Acosta took what this game gave him and made the most of it, including replacing the left-back during a crucial period of the final.
Weston McKennie: 7.5
He was the strength and presence that the USMNT desperately needed him, and he exuded poise, confidence and arrogance. McKennie was indefatigable in midfield and loving the ball on offensive set pieces, scoring the second equalizer as it looked like Mexico had secured the win. Best American Fielder of the Night and Nations League MVP.
Christian Pulisic: 6
Although he wore the captain’s armband, he was invisible for most of the night except for a deep ball which he served into the box. But he showed up in the big moment of pressure, shooting a penalty and expertly converting it. It could be a watershed moment for USMNT’s career.
Josh Sargent: 5
American flank attacks rarely reached Sargent, who was limited to hoping for loose bullets in the box during his 68 minutes of action. A first shot from a distance was for him.
Gio Reyna: 6.5
He appeared to be up to the task, taking the initiative and leaving his mark on the game, including showing off a solid defensive work rate. The goal he scored should serve to build confidence that the team is counting on him to make a difference.
Ethan Horvath: 8
What else to say about the substitute keeper (below) entering the game with 20 minutes left and making a series of clutch stoppages, including a dramatic penalty kick that preserved the result? If he had nerves, he certainly wasn’t showing them.
Reggie Cannon: N / A
Replaced at right-back by DeAndre Yedlin for second overtime.
Tyler Adams: 6
His energy and effort in the midfield had been sorely missed at the USMNT. It was emerging from a wound, but showed no wear. He was popping up all over the field for challenges, as he’s known to do.
Tim Weah: 6
When he had the ball on his feet, we had the distinct impression that he was capable of making a breaking game. The problem is, he didn’t have a lot of touches in the right areas.
Sébastien Lletget: 6
Typical strong contribution to Lletget’s midfielder, who started the game which led to Pulisic’s penalty. As a beginner or off the bench he is Mr. Dependable.
Jordan Siebatcheu: 5.5
Similar story to Sargent’s. He didn’t factor in the game in a big way during his nearly an hour of action.
Guillermo Ochoa: 6
They made some big saves at key moments, but when your team are playing as bad on set pieces as Mexico, it wasn’t enough.
Jesus Gallardo: 5
Gallardo was not a significant contributor on either side of the pitch and was beaten by Weston McKennie on the equalizer as his side were eight minutes away from a win.
Hector Moreno: 5.5
Average performance. The veteran wasn’t tested as much during the course of play, but he was exposed on set pieces. He was beaten on the corner header that resulted in America’s first goal. The goal he scored which was ruled out for offside in the first half was a key turning point in the game.
Nestor Araujo: 6
The best of Mexican defenders of the night, but he hasn’t been called upon to do anything out of the ordinary.
Luis “Chaka” Rodriguez: 5
Helped keep Pulisic and Dest under control, possibly a big reason why he didn’t offer his usual attacking contributions. His easy second half kick led to the corner kick that boosted McKennie’s 2-2 equalizer.
Hector Herrera: 5
I should have been sent off for a second yellow and the strangulation on McKennie. Mexico needed him to be more involved in the attack and not just to send the ball to the attackers and watch them dribble. McKennie was a nightmare for him to deal with.
Edson Alvarez: 6
The most influential Mexican midfielder on both sides of the ball. Alvarez gave it his all and covered a lot of ground. He was visibly gassed at the end of the game and it was a surprise that he was not replaced sooner.
Charly Rodriguez: 5
He wasn’t mobile or fast enough that day to get into useful positions for attackers to play against him. He hovered, but never really participated.
Crown of Jesus “Tecatito”: 6.5
“Tecatito” was electric at the start of the game and scored. He gave DeAndre Yedlin and Mark McKenzie fits in the first half before fading away in the second.
Hirving “Chucky” Lozano: 7.5
Chucky was the best player on the field for Mexico. He’s held the ball too much, but Mexico’s game plan on offense is to give it the ball and let it create. He often did it dangerously and made several mistakes.
Uriel Antuna: 6
He was generally dangerous on the run, but lacked substance in and around the surface. This is his player profile in a nutshell: he will take you to the penalty area, but does not always know what to do with it.
Carlos Salcedo: 5.5
Is it any surprise that he hasn’t started one of the Nations League games for Mexico? He brings a lot of positives to the center-back position (aggressiveness, athleticism, air ability), but he’s also a handicap around the box as he showed on the penalty he gave the United States in overtime. .
Luis Romo: 6
A solid player coming off the bench for Mexico. He did more in 44 minutes than Charly Rodriguez before him. He was regularly a willing participant in the attack, pushing deep into the attack.
Orbelin Pineda: N / A
Came like fresh legs for the last few minutes.
Andres Guarded: 4.5
Entering the game with 20 minutes to go, he had only one task: to execute set pieces and prepare precise passes. But Guardado failed to convert the most important of the set pieces, failing to score what would have been a penalty to save the game.
Diego Lainez: 6.5
A candle on the bench. He immediately brought the Mexican offense to life and scored what appeared to be the potential winner of the match at 2-1. Every time he got on the ball, he wreaked havoc.
Henri Martin: 5.5
Nothing remarkable about his 50+ minutes in the field. The screams for Chicharito Hernandez and Raul Jimenez won’t stop anytime soon, whether or not Tata Martino thinks they disrespect camp players like Martin.