USA-Serbia International Friendly Player Ratings

In the USA's first game since Bruce Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann,it faced a Serbian team introducing youngsters to national team play and settled for a 0-0 tie.

Arena gave three players -- Sebastian Lletget, Chris Pontius, Jorge Villafana -- their first U.S. caps and a first start for Darlington Nagbe, who provided rare highlights in the San Diego friendly.

Jan. 29 in San Diego
USA 0 Serbia 0.

USA Player Ratings:
Rating Player (Team) Caps/Goals
5 Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) 22/0
Called on to make two saves, a very easy one in the 72nd and an 89th minute blast that went straight to him.

3 Graham Zusi (Sporting KC) 43/5
The closest the right back came to contributing to the attack was an innocuous lob of a cross in the 81st minute. Wasted an excellent pass received from Michael Bradley in the penalty area in 68th minute.

5 Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United) 10/1
Helped central defense partner Chad Marshall keeps Serbs from penetrating through the middle.

6 Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders) 11/1
Blocked a couple shots, intercepted a cross and won a tackle close to the U.S. goal when Serbia came to life in the middle of the first half.

3 Greg Garza (Atlanta United) 10/0
Got lucky when the ref placed his penalty-area foul in the 23rd minute outside the box. Like Zusi failed to help the U.S. attack.

6 Michael Bradley (Toronto FC) 127/15
Swept in front of the backline and sparked some forays with mid-range passes.

5 Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy) 68/4
Set up Darlington Nagbe nicely for a first-half shot. Exited at halftime.

4 Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union) 56/2
Didn’t trouble the Serbs from the right wing.

5 Sacha Kljestan (NY Red Bulls) 52/6
Set up a shot for Jozy Altidore and was involved in some combo play but came up short in a playmaker’s role.

7 Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers) 11/1
In his first-ever USA start, provided rare first-half excitement with two shots that curled just wide. Most dangerous U.S. attacker was fouled five times in second half. Set up a chance after nifty one-two with Kljestan in the 63rd minute.

4 Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC) 100/37
Laid off a ball that Jones shot wide. Failed to break through Serbia’s crowded central defense besides his second-half shot that Filip Manojlovic smothered.

4 Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy) 1/0
Replaced Jones in at halftime and won ball in midfield to spark first second-half attack that ended with Altidore forcing first save from Manojlovic in 48th minute. Hit decent cross to Kljestan in 58th minute.

3 Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union) 1/0
Came in for Bedoya in the 65th minute and hardly appeared until he shot wide from 14 yards in the 90th minute.

5 Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna/MEX) 1/0
Replaced Garza at left back in 69th minute. Intercepted pass on first touch and won tackle with second. Sent in one cross late in the game.

4 Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders) 13/1
Looked threatening upon replacing center forward Altidore in the 74th minute but got only one other chance, shooting high in stoppage time.

NR Benny Feilhaber (Sporting KC) 42/2
Replaced Kljestan in 77th minute. Set up a chance for Jordan Morris.

NR Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution) 22/3
After replacing Nagbe in 87th minute, did well to evade two sandwiching Serb defenders in the penalty area but failed to pull the trigger.

(Ratings: 1=low; 5=average; 10-high.)

TRIVIA: Jozy Altidore became the 17th U.S. player and to earn 100 caps and at 27 years and 84 days old the second youngest after Landon Donovan to reach that milestone.

Jan. 29 in San Diego, Calif.
USA 0 Serbia 0
USA -- Rimando; Zusi, Birnbaum, Marshall, Garza (Villafana, 69); Bradley, Jones (Lletget, 46); Bedoya (Pontius, 65), Kljestan (Feilhaber, 77), Nagbe (Agudelo, 87); Altidore (Morris, 74).
Serbia -- Manojlovic; Miletic, Maras, Plavsic (Jovanovic, 81), Palocevic (Mrkic, 64), Gobeljic (Klisura, 84), Cirkovic, Calasan (Simonovic, 55), Panic, Dokic (Jevtovic, 77), Jovanovic (Alivodic, 63).
Yellow Cards: USA -- Kljestan 57; Serbia -- Cirkovic 80.
Red cards -- none.
Referee: Kevin Morrison (Jamaica).
Att: 20,079.

Stats: USA/Serbia
Shots: 12/ 8.
Shots on Goal: 1/2.
Saves: 2/1.
Corner Kicks: 2/7.
Fouls: 18/14.
Offside: 5/5.

36 comments about "USA-Serbia International Friendly Player Ratings ".
  1. charles davenport, January 29, 2017 at 11:13 p.m.

    my perception is that the US dominated possession,but couldn't put together any real scoring threats. Therefore...

  2. Georges Carraha, January 29, 2017 at 11:47 p.m.

    From what I saw, Bruce Arena is not the answer to our problems!
    Transition is slow and organized pressure is non-existent.
    Meaningless possession going backward is not going to win you games.
    Jurgen must be smiling!

  3. Nick Prodanovich replied, January 30, 2017 at 12:44 a.m.

    Hey, I did not see disorganization, too much sitting back or lack of effort on this team in marked contrast to JKs teams.

  4. Nick Prodanovich, January 30, 2017 at 12:41 a.m.

    A somewhat uninspiring display. However, not entirely unexpected given the state of fitness and lack of playing time for these players. I thought the ratings were harsh on Zusi, Lletget and Morris.

    I do think the transition into attack needs to be faster. And as some of the pundits pointed out they need to go at defenders especially in the penalty area. We seem to pass the ball back when we need to press the advantage.

    Still, the defense was solid, they did create chances, but that final ball was missing.

    You have to wonder how many of these guys will start/play in the qualifiers once the full team is assembled.

  5. Georges Carraha replied, January 30, 2017 at 1:09 a.m.

    the only positive was the defense. Fitness is not a reason for the USA not win this game. I was surprised to hear Bruce Arena talking at halftime and I do not believe I heard a Coach bringing meaningful changes to the team. We need to step-up to the modern game and it starts with the coaching staff.
    Fitness, Speed of play, Transition and Pressure.

  6. Bob Ashpole, January 30, 2017 at 2:53 a.m.

    First point this is the MLS preseason while it is mid-season for Serbia. The US players looked relatively sharp for being out of season. Second point while there was a lot of experienced players on the US team, there wasn't a lot of shared experience playing in these positions. Last point I liked the pace and aggressiveness, except for one short sequence, and I thought the team did well maintaining possession and creating chances. Granted that the US will likely face a lot more pressure in the qualifiers. Still I came away with a positive impression.

  7. David Mont replied, January 30, 2017 at 7:45 a.m.

    Bob, it's very misleading to say that it's mid-season for Serbia. It is technically true; however, the Serbian league is on winter break that lasts more than 2 months. Not to mention this was more like Serbia C or D team.

  8. David Mont, January 30, 2017 at 7:47 a.m.

    We can talk all we want about tactics, formation, line-up, etc. But the truth is that the US just doesn't have quality players. You can have the most advanced formation and tactics in the world, but if the players are not good enough, none of that matters. And the US players just aren't good enough, which is why none of them (the ones who were on the field yesterday) plays outside MLS.

  9. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, January 30, 2017 at 9:48 a.m.

    Yes that will happen when it is an all-MLS squad for January.

  10. John Munnell, January 30, 2017 at 8:16 a.m.

    Though lucky to avoid a penalty call, I thought Garza did a fine job. He read the game well and regularly looked to get into the attack. His speed was a revelation. So I was surprised that Arena commented on Villafana, whom I thought caught inside badly on at least two attacks down his side. And I'm surprised by this rating, when my first impression is that have found a candidate for the left back.

  11. cisco martinez, January 30, 2017 at 8:20 a.m.

    Uninspired performance, lack of attacking creativity and one thing to always note, roughly 70% of games won are with the team with more shots on goal, it was 0-0 at halftime and 2-1 to Serbia, according to ESPN. It was refreshing to see Nagbe and Fielhaber in there, but it seems like Klinsmann did a lot of damage in regards to youth coming up.

  12. Bill Wilson, January 30, 2017 at 9:57 a.m.

    Blame Klinsmann all you want for losing the plot after the 2014 WC. I do too. We all have to come to the realization, however, that our domestic player pool leaves something to be desired on the International front. Most of the excitement generated in MLS these days comes from foreign players. Bruce Arena is not getting qualification done himself. It takes talent, which seems to be in short supply here. As much hullabaloo as has been generated recently about the "passion" shown by our dual-citizen pool, we need these players. I am confused why Sebastian Lletget, who is slotted to play outside with the Galaxy is a presumptive center-mid option to replace Jones in March when Williams and Morales are getting regular starts in Europe. Fiery, fit and willing to get stuck-in MLS players showing fighting spirit are not guaranteed to beat improving CONCACAF sides. This isn't 1998 anymore.

  13. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, January 30, 2017 at 10:39 a.m.

    Lletget played in central midfield from the middle of 2016 for LA.

  14. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, January 30, 2017 at 10:41 a.m.

    Also Morales and Williams weren't available for these games. This is an all-MLS squad.

  15. Bill Wilson replied, January 30, 2017 at 1:29 p.m.

    I am talking about the March qualifier vs. Honduras where Jones is suspended. As far as Lletget is concerned, the Galaxy felt it necessary to go acquire another CM in the offseason and plan on pushing him wide again. All the conversation yesterday was about getting a look at him to potentially fill in for Jones in March. Why and what has he done to earn this?

  16. Miguel Dedo, January 30, 2017 at 10:01 a.m.

    This is our best coach, our best players. Enjoy, support, or resort to day dreaming.

  17. Bill Wilson replied, January 30, 2017 at 1:30 p.m.

    It is our best coaching option, but far from our best players.

  18. beautiful game, January 30, 2017 at 10:08 a.m.

    Some blogger player expectations are beyond reality...without consistent tempo, efficacy, and making things happen by every player is the problem. Off the ball movement is crucial and that hardly happens. We'll have to wait and see what, if anything, happens when the games count.

  19. frank schoon, January 30, 2017 at 10:13 a.m.

    What I notice is that Nagby, can cut very sharp on dime, very good. But here is the problem; one ,tactically you know where he's going with the ball-inside,two, the nuance in his play is that he is not prepared for his next option. In other words, once he cuts back,let us say, he then has to look what to do next. He needs to learn whenever he initiates an action with the ball, it has to be connected to or tied in with the next option, which he doesn't know. He doesn't think a step ahead. Better explained, if I , let us say, approach the opponent and cut to my right to beat him, I do so because it allows me to cross a teammate . There is reason why I cut to my right, it is not just to cut ,willy nilly, but it is tied in with the next option. Nagby lacks that element in his play. Nagby need to learn to cross the ball going down the end line, as well thereby
    making it bend away from the goal and goalie for a teammate to run into the ball...he lacks that ability and therefore one less attacking option.
    Michael Bradley, plays at one tempo and doesn't increase the speed of the game with his passes. Lot of his passes downfield are characterized that go into the air to a teammate's head with his back to the goal and a defender in his back...these types of passes are useless,... typical college stuff. Another aspect of Bradley's play is that a lot of his passes are to the feet of a player coming back him to receive the ball with no 3rd man off the ball going forwards, in relation to the 2nd man coming to the ball from Bradley. It is slow soccer, again college stuff. Bradley whenever passing square to an open defender to his feet in the back, instead of to an open space in front of defender. As a result slowing the game, giving the opponent's time to set up. Bradley never runs and wants the ball his feet, again , it slows the game down. Bradley looks like he is holding a cup of tea in his and spill the contents while playing ....

  20. Mo youknow replied, January 30, 2017 at 9:22 p.m.

    Nagbe doesn't lack those elements to his game. You obviously haven't seen him play much. I don't know how you think a player can reach the level he has and not realize he needs to be thinking ahead. It's very insulting to the man that you think he just willy nilly goes around dribbling with no plan. He is a great passer and has great vision.

  21. frank schoon replied, January 31, 2017 at 12:04 p.m.

    Mo you know, he has promise but he needs someone who has played that wing position at a high level to tell him what he doing wrong;( that is why I recommend that the US soccer program needs to hire retired wing stars from Europe to come and teach the finer aspects of wing play for Nagby has no clue). First of all he runs back to midfield to receive a ball from the outside back which is already not good. Realize when you run back your taking your opponent with you and as a result you clog the midfield around you, thereby reducing operating space of your midfielders and backs. Second ,if the ball comes from the outside back Nagby will have his back facing downfield , thereby reducing not only the tempo of the game, which there wasn't anyway due to the slow speed of passes, but also he has no downfield view and ends up passing inward ,usually sideways.
    But also he has no forward movement and unable to use his speed, all of this allows his opponent to guard him easier. Instead of coming back to get the pass he should stay forward as far as possible thereby creating more space behind him around midfield for his midfielders and back, and more importantly use the space in front him thereby making a 1v1 with his direct opponent. He also likes the ball to come to his feet and thereby slowing things down, and thereby not using his speed effectively. He needs to definitely work with his left in making hard crosses with an outward bend. By running down to the endline with his speed forces the opponent's back line to run back and thereby creating space for Nagby's up coming attackers. He needs to increase his attacking options by either going down the wing to the endline with speed instead of just going inside most of the time for that becomes too predictable. Furthermore he does not create space for teammates for he is so fixated on the ball first. He doesn't take advantage of fast run downfield off the ball when he is level with opponent...he use his speed. Another problem ,which is not his fault is that when he gets the ball his teammates come to him to help which you should never do because you bring in more opponents and clog up the area. He needs to work on hard left footed shots as well as with the outside of the right foot shots. The two shots he attempted with the
    inside of right foot with a sping was nice but he needs to do execute that shot about yards further away from the penalty box thus allowing the ball to bend more.
    Realize also since he is right footed , receiving the ball with his right foot on the left flank often has his body position facing backwards instead of downfield. He needs to invite to his left foot thereby he can increase his attacking pace with second touch on the ball with his right foot,and at the same time he view is better.
    Also he needs to move inwards 5 yards away from the sideline there increasing his option of left or to the right of the opponent for the opponent now has to guess which he will go.

  22. frank schoon replied, January 31, 2017 at 12:08 p.m.

    Mo, one more thing, on defense, he needs to be more aware about the opponent behind him for if he looks behind all he has is take a couple steps forward in case of a long pass or sideways to block a passing lane. He doesn't do that....

  23. frank schoon, January 30, 2017 at 10:39 a.m.

    This Serbian team was nothing to write home about and I realize these players , except for 2 players none of them have played for the national team, it was a C/D team level players. It is too bad Yugoslavia broke up back in the 90's for I consider their players some of the greatest individualist in the world...they were considered the Brazilians of Europe at one time. Go to You Tube and type in "Forgotten Footballers-Dragan Dzajic", watch him in the WC'74 he nutmegs his opponent 3 times in row in the same action..Can you imagine him teaching players like a Nagby the finer elements. This is why we needs to bring over these "retired technicians of the game" of which there so many to come here to teach our better players the insights of the game for they are not going to learn from some A-licensed coach ....We need to bring here retired player and teach our better players with good hands on experience...If you're planning to play a step up then you need bring in those who have played a step up....

  24. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, January 30, 2017 at 12:08 p.m.

    Frank - have you watched any football since 1974? Every comment is about the 1974 world cup.

  25. Bob Ashpole replied, January 30, 2017 at 12:16 p.m.

    For a while now I have been thinking about your comments about using great players as coaches and have noticed that successful clubs use teams of coaches including former players, but also educators and strength and conditioning coaches. What surprised me was the large role the strength and conditioning coaches play at professional clubs. The typical US youth club practice, training youth teams independently instead of using teams of coaches to train multiple teams, is inherently less effective.

  26. frank schoon replied, January 30, 2017 at 1:16 p.m.

    Bob, It is a shame that these pro clubs employ a lot of strength and physical coaches as if that if that will improve the skills. Look at Messi, look at Xavi, look at Inniesta, look at Neymar, or look at they look like muscle bound apes , able run 100 mph, outfight players on the field.. No just the opposite. Of course the philosophy of Barcelona is Cruyff's ,who believed that the more you run the dumber you are as a player. As far as speed is concerned, Cruyff stated , you're either on time or you're late. And speed is between your ears. You don't run , you let the ball do the running for there is nothing faster than the ball (movement). So yes we pro teams who believe in going into the weight room, pump of run ,run ,run...This is what I would call the 'knuckle draggers" who coach soccer. There is nothing wrong with strength and condition coach but the game has become more based on this particular element which of course doesn't follow Barcelona's style of play.
    The kids don't have to worry about strength and conditioning coaches. At this early stage it is all about playing , and improving skills and technique. Once the kid has grown and plays and he is master over the ball and opponent than other things can be brought into play.
    Our talent here is talent here and there will always be talent
    but the problem is we need an input which I suggested of bringing retired greats or good players from Europe to help with their development and we don't have that here....

  27. Bob Ashpole replied, January 30, 2017 at 10:33 p.m.

    Frank the role of the strength and conditioning coach at some clubs is expanded. They help design the technical/tactical training exercise to control the physical demands and characteristics while maintaining the coaching objectives established by the "player" coaches. Because at the professional level many of the players are in a recovery status, limiting fatigue while keeping exercises match like during technical/tactical exercises is a very real advantage. I don't know when these coaches started being involved in the technical/tactical training, but I was reading about Guardiola's use of strength and conditioning assistants to plan the exercises.

  28. frank schoon replied, January 31, 2017 at 1:42 p.m.

    Bob, they differ with countries . It differs from the South American continent vis a vis Europe and it differs within countries in Europe. For example teams that play a more Cruyff style of soccer like Barcelona where the ball does the running instead of the player, there the physical training is easier. The physical training between a german team and Barcelona also differs. Like Frank Rykaard stated once that " the amount of sweat you produce in a game has nothing with how well you play. That is why when watching a game and it shows on the screen that a player has run 10 or 11 kilometers in a game. Tells me rather the team didn't play with brains. Xavi would average 6 to 8 km per game. Look at the Barcelona player, none of them look muscular , big, able to out head or out jump the is all about skills....

  29. Bob Ashpole replied, February 1, 2017 at 9:58 a.m.

    Frank, are you familiar with Vern Gambetta's Athletic Development: The Art & Science of Functional Sports Conditioning? If not, I recommend it. The focus is on improving movement physically and technically in a sport's context.

  30. frank schoon replied, February 1, 2017 at 11:43 a.m.

    Bob, no I haven't but I'm familiar with what I read as far as exercises on recuperating and other things. For Example in an interview with Dennis Bergkamp when he played with Arsenal, he stated some interesting exercises that they did with muscle machines. In Italy , certain clubs have also interesting conditioning aspects ,, which is great as well diets. But as relating it to technique, nothing no machinery can improve touch on the ball. If there was something like that one would make a million. Technique is so tied in with the player. I have some cute anecdotes
    here. Wim van Hanegem ( see Youtube, "Forgotten Footballers-Wim van Hanegem")was probably one the slowest soccer players ever in Holland but he is considered second to Cruyff , in Holland. Many players o in the world at the WC'74 stated he should have been the MVP not Cruyff. Van Hanegem was told by his coach that he was too slow and he must train to become faster. He did all these speed exercises to make him faster. The result was that he became worse as a player. The coaches didn't realize how technique and the player himself were very intertwined, mentally, and physically. Taking one specific element, speed, which changed his dynamics of who he was as a player. They didn't realize that van Hanegem like Cruyff read the game about 5 movements further ahead, mentally. His vision was his speed. Like Cruyff stated "speed has nothing to do with it but you are either on time or not, and "speed is between your ears". Meaning to say you have to be able to read the game to know ahead of time what to expect. Watch the You tube on Van Hanegem and his passes. Cruyff stated that today, Ajax uses computer a lot to judge players, but computers can' measure technique and how much insights a player has...

  31. beautiful game, January 30, 2017 at 1:52 p.m.

    One thing I noticed which is an eyesore in the MLS; hardly ever does a defensive back dribble the ball out of the area after a corner or free kick; they mostly pummel the ball up field.

  32. frank schoon replied, January 30, 2017 at 2:19 p.m.

    Yes, there are a lot other things that are eyesores, but this particular one you mentioned is due to their lack of confidence of building up an attack from the back and that is due their lack of solid ball possession capabilities.
    That is why I say if the US players ever going to improve they have begin to learn to play a more sophisticated style of play for if they don't they will remain an eyesore...

  33. Bob Ashpole replied, February 1, 2017 at 10:04 a.m.

    I on the other hand consider penetrating the middle third by dribbling to be a poor tactic, which I think is what you meant by eyesore. A development coach may require it in order to develop dribbling skills, but it is not conducive to attacking success. It very much slows the attack and makes it predictable, making the opponent's job too easy.

  34. Goal Goal, January 30, 2017 at 3:38 p.m.

    I would tell you after witnessing this game Sunday to go out and take a look at what the youth national teams are doing. Technically they are flat. Playing in tight spots fails and being able to amount an attack to get to the goal without launching the ball into orbit is rare.

  35. cisco martinez, January 30, 2017 at 3:56 p.m.

    The main reason our national teams are not doing well is the fact that American soccer players and coaches are primarily coached by British coaches. This is not entirely a knock on the British, but it's a realization that they do not emphasize technical ability and tactics such as Argentinians, brazilians, Italians, or even Spanish coaches. We need our coaches to emphasis technical abilities, using both feet, good first touch, facing the field when receiving the ball, the ability to play combination plays, creativity in the midfield; moreover we lack tactical awareness, pinching in defensively, being flexible in regards to formations, etc

  36. Bob Ashpole replied, January 30, 2017 at 10:42 p.m.

    I understand your point and you have seen far more soccer in this country than I have, but I suspect that the problem lies with over-coaching and an emphasis on team tactics and team development at the cost of fundamentals and player development beginning at U-Littles. I don't think the nationality of the coaches make a difference to player development. What disturbs me is that I see the trend to emphasize team tactics at early ages continuing.

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