USA-Puerto Rico Takeaways: Wood and Yedlin shine

The USA played the first of three friendlies before the Copa Centenario Sunday when it beat Puerto Rico, 3-1, in their first meeting in Bayamon. The Americans, starting only seven players who will go to the Copa Centenario, had almost 75 percent of possession but struggled in the afternoon heat -- 88 degrees at kickoff -- to put away Puerto Rico, which gave seven players their first caps.

1. Wood and Yedlin show off their current form.

Bobby Wood (17 goals for Union Berlin) and DeAndre Yedlin (who helped Sunderland avoid relegation) likely won starting jobs for the Copa Centenario on the basis of breakout European seasons, and both showed off their current form against Puerto Rico.

USA-Puerto Rico: Player Ratings

Wood's setup play started the first goal scored by Tim Ream and he bulled through to put away the second a quarter of an hour later. Yedlin was a constant threat up and down the right flank.

2. Arriola makes most of international debut.

After enjoying his best season for Mexican club Tijuana, where he made 27 Liga MX appearances in 2015-16, 21-year-old Paul Arriola was rewarded with his first senior cap and made the most of it, assisting on Wood's goal and scoring the USA's third goal in the 56th minute.

Arriola played for the USA at the 2015 Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand and started the second game of the Olympic qualifying playoff series against Colombia. Of the U-23s, only keeper Ethan Horvath was called up for the Copa Centenario. But Arriola is one of half a dozen field players to watch for the future.

3. U.S. hesitancy in back proves costly again.

Despite its disadvantage possession, Puerto Rico, which is 152 in the current FIFA rankings, managed to get off five shots and scored on FIU's Luis Betancur's well-taken goal off a pass from Joseph Marrero just before halftime.

The goal came off a broken play, though, as the USA lost possession in its half off its own throw-in. The play exposed a continuing problem, the tentative play in the back that has cost the USA goals in major setbacks such as the 2-1 loss to Jamaica in 2015 (first goal off a throw-in) and 2-0 loss to Guatemala in 2016 (first goal off corner kick, second goal off goal kick).

May 22 in Bayamon
Puerto Rico 1 USA 3. Goals: Betancur 42; Ream 19, Wood 33, Arriola 56.
Puerto Rico -- Matthew Sanchez; Martinez, D’Andrea, Velez, Lopez (A.Rivera 46); Hall, Clark (Fernandez 57); Manolo Sanchez (Rios 77), J.Rivera (Soto 67), Marrero (Caban 85); Betancur.
USA -- Guzan (Howard 46); Yedlin, Orozco, Brooks (Miazga 46), Ream (Lichaj 62); Kitchen (Hyndman 46), Williams, Bedoya (Green 62), Morales; Wood (Picault, 70), Arriola.
3 comments about "USA-Puerto Rico Takeaways: Wood and Yedlin shine".
  1. Kevin Sims, May 23, 2016 at 10:29 a.m.

    The PR goal did come off a broken play, but excellent defenders are 100% of the time ready to defend the worse-case scenario. Yes, a nice PR pass and finish, but defender failed to get goal-side, ball-side quickly and failed to get close after first touch. Excellent defenders do not have such lapses in concentration. The USA backs are good for many such lapses each match and too often pay dearly. We must seek to develop and to find players who are mentally concentrating for every second of the match ... no easy task.

  2. Ric Fonseca, May 23, 2016 at 2:45 p.m.

    open letter to SA: Mike W, Paul K, R. Mahoney, et. al: Why are ads being included on this site? This is the second I've seen from this person.

  3. John Hofmann, May 23, 2016 at 4:48 p.m.

    Ric - amen. I assume SA could do something about a post if it was lewd, etc., so it would seem obviously appropriate to get rid of blatant advertising that has nothing to do with the matter at hand.

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