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.)
The commentary about the ratings are typical NFL/NHL stat talking-points; while Zusi deserved his rating, it was because he was making things happen, he is solid under pressure, has sound analytical skills, and was a positive contribution to the TEAM. Otherwise, I could care less about this or that.
Evans and Davis did not look like they belonged during this game. They had way too much sloppy play and made so many mental mistakes. The rating on Donovan was generous. He had almost no impact on the game.
How about some love for Davis's athleticism that resulted in a goal within the first five minutes? Game breaking plays count big. (looks like Mike Magee isn't in Klinsman's plans?)
Evans is garbage, can anyone say that if cherundolo or Cameron was in there that they would lose 1v1? Davis shouldnt even be considered, Wondolowski had a great game, however he has yet to play at a higher level, especially compared to Johnson, Johan son, and altidore.
I would have given Wondo and Zusi 7s, Donovan a 5 and Johnson a 4, but cannot disagree otherwise. Davis was not having a good day, but his left foot deserves a further look. When is Johnson going to learn not to kill the ball? He is not that dazzlingh a dribbler and clearly not playing for the team. If it were between the two, I would want Wondo's effort on my team and leave Johnson's inflated ego off.