AZTECA REPORT CARD
RECAPS
EXTRA TIME
BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, March 27, 2013
The United States national team earned a golden point against Azteca that will give the team a needed boost moving forward

Here are the big stories from the game

Gonzalez and Besler could be the answer in central defense

It wasn't long ago when the biggest problem on the US national team was in central defense. Bocanegra is aging and Onyewu is isn't playing at Malaga. Also, Geoff Cameron was playing right back for Stoke and Clarence Goodson was not having a good season with Brondby.

Enter Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler who put in fantastic performances against Mexico. Both players have played their entire career in MLS but both players proved they could fix the backline.

MLS was a winner

Major League Soccer will be able to smile after earning a big result. All 14 American players who participated in the game either play in MLS now or began their careers there. This result was huge for the US national team and no doubt MLS will be happy to boast about their role in developing the players.

On a side note, the use of foreign-born players has come under scrutiny after former US national team head coach Bruce Arena criticized overuse of players not born in the United States. All 14 American players who played in Tuesday's draw with Mexico were born in United States. The last time the USMNT had a game with only American-born players was in a 3-1 friendly win over Austrialia on June 5, 2010 just ahead of the World Cup in South Africa.

The US loses without Beasley

This was one of the biggest weeks of DaMarcus Beasley's career. On Friday, he was the man of the match against Costa Rica and helped the Americans to a crucial win. Now against Mexico, his play in the second half was enormously important for the US team.

Put this in perspective. The top six American fullbacks (Cherundolo, Chandler, Johnson, Castillo, Parkhurst, and Spector) were injured and Beasley has not played a big role in the U.S team under Klinsmann. Now he steps in and helps the US pick up four points in two games playing out of position. On Tuesday, the Mexicans consistently tried to attack down his side and while Beasley did bend at times, he did not break.

In big games, the value of experience cannot be overstated.

Match ratings

Starting Lineup

Brad Guzan - 8 - Guzan's performance against Mexico was one to remember and proves that the United States is in good hands if Tim Howard is injured.

Geoff Cameron - 6.5 - Cameron's performance at right back was admirable but it is not his best position. He is a central defender and the Mexicans got past him more than once. He was very good defensively on set pieces - which is important given the number of free kicks and corners Mexico had.

Omar Gonzalez - 8.5 - Man of the Match - Before he went down with a torn ACL in January 2012, many people were wondering when Gonzalez would get his chance with the US national team. Tonight was his overdue breakout game and will be a very big part of the team moving forward.

Matt Besler - 8.0- In just his second cap for the United States national team, Besler was given a huge assignment in Azteca. Gonzalez was always expected to have a big international future but Besler's performance was a surprise. He had great chemistry with Gonzalez and has made a strong statement to be part of the team moving forward.

DaMarcus Beasley - 7.5 - It wasn't always pretty but Beasley's performance was heroic. He has not played much with the US team under Klinsmann but playing out of position, he stood his ground against a Mexican team with a game plan centered on going after Beasley. Beasley stood strong and by the second half, he was reading the game very well.

Michael Bradley - 8.5 - Bradley's performance was exactly what Klinsmann needed. With Maurice Edu struggling, Bradley cleaned up in central midfield. He was more involved in the first half than in the second but statistics show he had an astonishing 57 for 58 (98.2%) pass completion percentage for the game. He nearly was called for a penalty for a push on Chicharito but on replay it looked like a dive from the Manchester United forward.

Maurice Edu - 4.5 - It was a rough night for Edu who gave the ball away too much and was lucky not to have a penalty call against him in the second half. He will struggle for minutes once Jermaine Jones returns to the team. Still, he had his moments defensively and his athleticism helped the US team more than once.

Graham Zusi - 6.0 -The US team was on their heels a lot in the game and what was very surprising was Zusi's effort defensively. His 40 yard run ending with a slide tackle in the first half was one of the plays of the game.

Herculez Gomez - 5.0 -Gomez is not a winger and struggled on Tuesday night. His distribution on set pieces wasn't as good as usual and he struggled to keep possession. Like most everyone on the US team, however, Gomez had some unexpectedly strong moments tracking back defensively to help an inexperienced backline.

Clint Dempsey - 4.5- The U.S team will be happy with the results over the past week but Dempsey will be disappointed by his performance against Mexico. As the team's captain and leading offensive thread, Dempsey accomplished little in the game outside of a few nice combination plays in the first half. He had to track back way into the midfield, but rarely was dangerous. After missing most of the past month with an injury, it was hardly surprising to see a rusty-looking Dempsey.

Jozy Altidore -5.5-One of reasons why Altidore is struggling to translate his success from AZ Alkmaar over to the US team is that Jurgen Klinsmann is using Altidore in a different role. At Alkmaar he has players to combine with but for the US team he is often a lone striker with Dempsey tracking back to the midfield and Gomez playing on the wing. In this game he wasn't dangerous but he did help the US team in its hold up play and possession.

Substitutes

Eddie Johnson - 5.0 - Johnson played the final 35 minutes and helped slightly with hold up play but wasn't dangerous offensively. That's not all entirely his fault as the US team was defending most of the second half but he still struggled to make an impact when he did have service.

Brad Davis - 4.5 - Davis came on in the 71st minute for Herculez Gomez and was not an upgrade from his replacement. He lacked the speed to help in defense and picked up a silly yellow card in stoppage time that gave Mexico a dangerous free kick.

Brek Shea - NR - Shea came on late in the 81st minute and did not do enough to earn a grade.
Santiago Leon
Wednesday March 27, 2013 9:48 am
Geoff Cameron plays regular at right back at Stoke. Why not have him replace Cherundulo as the future right-back for the #USMNT?
Rojo
Wednesday March 27, 2013 9:31 am
This is the first report card that I have seen that reflects the same game that I watched. Well done.
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