By Mike Woitalla
Facing fellow World Cup qualifier South Korea in its first game of 2014, the USA strolled to a 2-0 win thanks to goals by Chris Wondolowski, who struck in the 4th and 60th minutes, with Graham Zusi playing a key role in both.
Kyle Beckerman marshaled a U.S. midfield that kept enough possession to frustrate the South Koreans for most of the game.
The U.S. defense showed no major deficiencies against an opponent coming off a 4-0 loss to Mexico four days ago.
While Jurgen Klinsmann can be pleased opening the year with a comfortable win, none of the long-shots for a World Cup roster spot made a significant statement.
RATING PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
6 Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) 13/0
Most South Korean shots went right to him but made fine effort to keep Besler’s close-range corner-kick deflection from crossing line.
4 Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC) 17/1
Right back lost a couple one-on-ones; offensive forays were unfruitful.
5 Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy) 17/0.
Won battle of giants, shutting down 6-foot-5 striker Kim Shin-Wook.
5 Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) 13/0
Slid to block dangerous pass into front of goal. Passing inconsistent.
6 Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew) 24/0
Poised left back ventured forward and delivered some productive balls.
8 Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City) 19/3
Cross set up 1-0, and pass, also from right flank, helped create 2-0. Also carried out his defensive duties.
7 Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) 34/1
Served as a reliable linchpin in central midfield.
5 Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/NOR) 17/2.
Dependably paired with Beckerman but will have hoped to make more of an impact before being subbed after an hour.
6 Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy) 155/57
Some crisp passes, including one that sent Zusi down wing on 1-0 goal, and he nicked the ball back for Wondolowski’s second goal.
4 Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo) 13/0
Took shot that created rebound for Wondolowski goal, but made some sloppy passes that sparked counters.
8 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) 18/8
Pounced on keeper’s rebound to head 1-0 lead. Struck sharply from 8 yards out for 2-0.
RATING PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
5 Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders) 62/19.
Held the ball under pressure a few times but never broke loose.
5 Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes) 45/5
Kept central defense in order during Koreans’ late attempts for consolation goal.
5 Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City) 41/2
Like the man he replaced, Diskerud, was solid on the ball but didn’t create danger for Koreans.
NR Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake) 1/0
No missteps nor notable contributions in debut.
NR DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC) 1/0
Right-back debutant resorted to foul on biggest test to give up dangerous free kick.
NR Eric Alexander (New York Red Bulls) 2/0
Replaced Davis for final 10 minutes.
(1=low; 5-medium; 10=high.)