USA-Nicaragua Gold Cup Player Ratings

July 15 in Cleveland, Ohio
USA 3 Nicaragua 0. Goals: Corona 36, Rowe 56, Miazga 88.
Att.: 27,934.

Once again, the USA made things hard for itself, missing two penalty kicks in the second half before getting the third goal from Matt Miazga (making his first international start) to complete a 3-0 Gold Cup win over Nicaragua (down to nine players on Miazga's goal after a red card to Luis Copete and an injury to Luis Galeano) before 27,934 fans at Cleveland's FirstEnergy Stadium.

Joe Corona and Kelyn Rowe also scored for the USA, but Dom Dwyer and Corona both had penalty kicks saved by Nicaraguan Justo Lorente.

With the win in its first meeting with Nicaragua, the USA achieved its goal of winning Group B at the Gold Cup and avoiding Group A winner Costa Rica in the quarterfinals.

Gold Cup, Quarterfinals
July 19 in Philadelphia, Pa.
QF1: Costa Rica vs. Panama
QF2: USA vs. 3A/C
TV: FS1, UniMas, 6 pm and FS1, Univision, 9 pm ET.
July 20 in Glendale, Ariz.
QF3: 1C vs. 3A/B
QF4: 2C vs. Canada
TV: FS1, UniMas, 7:30 pm and FS1, Univision, 10:30 pm ET.

USA Player Ratings:
Player (Club) Caps/Goals
6 Bill Hamid (D.C. United), 3/-
Solid game in first U.S. appearance since disastrous 4-1 loss to Ireland in 2014. Came up big to stop long-range blast from Juan Barrera and cover up rebound in 74th minute. Also got touch on ball to clear lone Nicaragua threat by Bismarck Veliz in first half.

5 Graham Zusi (Sporting KC), 51/5.
Played perfectly angled ball to find Miazga for third goal. Almost scored on solo effort in 20th minute. But had several nervous giveaways.

5 Matt Besler (Sporting KC), 42/1.
Beaten to ball, leading to best Nicaragua chance in first half, but was not placed in many difficult situations after that.

7 Matt Miazga (Chelsea/ENG), 3/1.
A confident game from lone field player who didn't play in first two group games. Clean on the ground and in air. Topped first U.S. start with headed goal, the kind of play that will get him more looks.

5 Jorge Villafana (Santos, MEX) 9/0.
Another quiet game, nothing terrible, but not as involved as in strong games in World Cup qualifiers.

6 Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire) 10/0.
Played long ball through lines that set up first goal. A major factor in settling midfield during second half. Dispossessed on first Nicaragua chance in first half.

7 Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union) 64/2.
Broke down wing and cut ball back to find Corona on first goal, played the ball to Rowe for second goal. Earned second U.S. penalty, which Corona missed. Now headed home to be with wife for birth of second child.

5 Joe Corona (Tijuana/MEX) 20/3.
Did very well to get himself open in middle for first U.S. goal since Gold Cup 2013 quarterfinals but lucky to get deflection. Much more involved than in Panama game. Could have done better with service on set pieces. But that missed PK ... even worse than Dwyer's miss.

6 Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution), 3/1.
Has now worked hard to create goals for himself and others in two starts on left side. Excellent effort to score second goal before exiting. Placed two shots on frame in first half.

4 Dom Dwyer (Sporting KC) 3/2.
Drew first penalty but will rue missed PK that would have given him goals in first three U.S. games. Had key secondary role on Corona goal but struggled to find chances for himself in first half.

4 Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union), 4/0.

Played ball on which Dwyer was fouled for penalty. For all his work should have been more incisive, though, in clogged midfield.

6 Paul Arriola (Tijuana/MEX), 7/2.
Brought some needed energy in second half after deflating PK misses by Dwyer and Corona. Most important, did good job of using wing on relatively narrow field.

5 Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), 17/4.
Took one for the team, wiped out in collision with keeper Justo Lorente on Arriola ball in from right wing.

6 Juan Angulo (New England Revolution) 25/3.
Drew red card on Luis Copete and foul that led to free kick for third U.S. goal.

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

TRIVIA. The USA has now won its group at the Gold Cup 13 times in 14 editions. It finished second to Panama in 2011 when it lost its first and only group match.

July 15 in Cleveland
USA 3 Nicaragua 0. Goals: Corona 36, Rowe 56, Miazga 88.
USA – Hamid; Zusi, Miazga, Besler, Villafana; Corona (Morris 67), Rowe (Arriola 61), McCarty, Bedoya; Pontius, Dwyer (Agudelo 75).
Nicaragua -- Lorente, Copete, Errington, Quijano, Veliz (Pavon 70), Lopez, Peralta (Hurtado 46), Cadena, Garcia (Nino 70), Galeano, Barrera.
Red Card: Nicaragua -- Copete 85.
Referee:  Melvin Matamoros (Honduras).
Att.: 27,934.

33 comments about "USA-Nicaragua Gold Cup Player Ratings".
  1. Kevin Sims, July 15, 2017 at 11:16 p.m.

    IMHO ... Dax was nowhere near a 6 ... Run over & run past & a liability in the air & caught holding the ball unaware ... Like his heart always, but do not think he can be valuable to USA MNT ... Wish to see more of Rowe & Agudelo & Acosta in months ahead

  2. John Pepple, July 16, 2017 at 7:16 a.m.

    Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again, even though no one else agrees. Penalty kicks should be the easiest way to score goals. It should be routine for players at that level to kick the ball so that it goes within a few inches of a post, but almost no one seems capable of doing that these days. Neither of the penalty kicks taken in this game were close to a post, with the result that both were saved.

    When will I get to see players who can take a simple penalty kick and consistently put it close to a post?

  3. stewart hayes replied, July 16, 2017 at 4:09 p.m.

    Yes scoring a penalty should be easy but the rules allowing GK movement have changed. This puts more pressure on the kicker. As you correctly note if the shot is not hit accurately, within 2 feet of the post at a velocity of near 70 mph, many pro goalies will make the save. Some coaches say pick a corner and don't change. But that does not always work. The best corners are the upper ones but added skill is required to make that shot consistently. Taking penalties is technical and mental and requires special talent and training. Training includes learning how to read the keeper, altering rhythm of the approach, being able to wait for the keeper to react or shoot disregarding the keeper as well as quieting the mind and executing as if there is no pressure. The odds are with the shooter but only the shooter that is well prepared. Not enough time is devoted to this important part of the game. Obviously, the USMNT players were unprepared.

  4. Jay Wall replied, July 16, 2017 at 9:52 p.m.

    Stewart, the most neglected skill for taking calming players for critical restarts is almost always neglected by the vast majority of coaches. Players as young as 8 can and should be taught the deep breathing technique to relieve stress which varies slightly by player, but is usual a 4-7-8 breathing technique. Breath in for count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7 and breathe out slowly for a full count of 8. > In training a metronome set for 60 clicks per seconds allows players to learn to breathe in for a count of 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds and then to breathe out for a count of 8 seconds. A cell phone can be used to access a website with metronome, set the speed required and start it. > In coaching there are also breathing rhythms for sprinting, endurance running and for training the player to expel the contents of the lungs completely to build up lung capacity, which should all be learned by serious players who want to perform at their best.

  5. Kevin Leahy, July 16, 2017 at 7:29 a.m.

    Hamid's distribution is like night and day compared to Brad (pound it down the field) Guzan. The team needs to find our next keeper now.

  6. Daniel Clifton, July 16, 2017 at 7:39 a.m.

    I think Agudelo really brings something to the table when he plays. Although he may really be more valuable in the midfield like on the wing. I would like to see him and Nagbe on the field at the same time. Bedoya looked good. He is more suited for a number 8 role rather than on the wing. Rowe has been a find. How about Miazga scoring in his first meaningful minutes.

  7. Nick Daverese, July 16, 2017 at 9:25 a.m.

    On either of the PKs did the opponents keeper leave his line to save either one of them?

    I thought both keepers were fearless. The US keeper had pretty good distributions.

    There was a game the Panama one where the open his the cross bar with a bullet then someone else shot right after it should have been a goal both this made made thing was up off the ground the ball hit it and kept the goal from scoring. Since it is ruled part of the field like the official is part of the field if it hits him no goal.

  8. I w Nowozeniuk, July 16, 2017 at 10:26 a.m.

    J.P. , FYI the PK presents more mental complexities to the kicker than the keeper. So if it's so easy according to u, just about every player would be successful, and with the best players, it's no gimme except for u. You're opinion speaks highly of low soccer IQ. As for Agudelo, he'll never reach a higher level. His decision making process and acceleration is too slow. Another minnow beaten and the pundits drool over the victory.

  9. Jay Wall replied, July 16, 2017 at 9:57 p.m.

    IW please see additional observation under J.P.'s post on another aspect I feel keeper's need for taking Penalty Kicks, but which is very rarely ever taught.

  10. Nick Daverese, July 16, 2017 at 11:06 a.m.

    On the Nicaragua keeper I thought he knew how to play PKs. What he did was the way I coach keepers to play PKs. But now when you go off your line to make the goal smaller. They are starting to call that players are leaving their line on PKs. In the beginning of the game he played like a sweeper/ keeper coming off his line to cut off opponents through passes. I guess he got tired late in the game and stopped doing that. The cut back pass cross Bedoya made from right to left on the goal was too good to be on purpose. He made a cross designed to give more then one player a chance to put it in. Unless Bedoya is a better passser then I originally thought is he?

  11. frank schoon, July 16, 2017 at 11:11 a.m.

    I W, Cruyff never took penalties except for the one that took 2 passes. I don't think JP really understands the complexities. And practicing penalties is not going to help for it is mostly mental, the pressure, the stakes, which is the predominant factor in all of this. I do know one thing is that if a player didn't have such a good game, I would not let him take a penalty, no matter how good he is. Interesting Cruyff never knew what his line up would be until after the players have come out on the field to warm up. And if he doesn't notice you for some reason he won't start him. According to Cruyff a player must show a certain presence or aura on the field, that you would notice him. A player that enters the field should always walk up in a straight posture and not bend over looking down.
    A good example is when you watch Ruud Gullit...

  12. Nick Daverese, July 16, 2017 at 11:41 a.m.

    I never let the fouled player take the pk unless he was the designated taker and he was all right. But if the game goes to PKs after 120 minutes. On any national team you have a good chance to have 5 players who can do it or are designated pk takers on their teams. So better to sub late in the game and get some of those guys on the field if they have not played as yet.

  13. frank schoon, July 16, 2017 at 11:47 a.m.

    NICK, True. Also it is sometimes better to let a player who is just a meat and potatoes type of player to shoot for a real technical players thinks too much and wants to put icing on the cake . This is why Johan Neeskens took all of the penalties for the Dutch at WC'74. He just rams it in there.

  14. John Pepple, July 16, 2017 at 12:01 p.m.

    You guys are nuts. There's more complexities for the taker than the keeper? Insane. There was a novel written in the early 1970s titled The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick. It didn't have much to do with soccer, but that's what was thought of penalty kicks back then. The pressure was on the goalie and not the shooter. In the book Brilliant Orange, the author talks about how penalty taking in Holland had declined. See pages 150-1 and 157:

    "In the seventies the Dutch had lethal penalty-takers.... [Rob] Rensenbrink actually enjoyed penalties.... His method was to tell the goalkeeper in advance which of the four corners of the goal he was going to put the ball, and then beat him there anyway."

    No one seems able to do this these days.

  15. Bob Ashpole replied, July 16, 2017 at 12:31 p.m.

    John, keepers are never expected to make the save, but the taker is always expected to score. The expectations are where the mental pressure comes from.

  16. Kent James replied, July 16, 2017 at 2:40 p.m.

    Yes, the keeper has the much more difficult job, so the keeper is likely to fail. But as Bob say, that puts all the pressure on the shooter, since he is supposed to score. Being able to score PKs consistently takes technical skill (which most pros have) and ice-water in the veins (a much rarer thing).

  17. frank schoon, July 16, 2017 at 12:34 p.m.

    John, Rensenbrink was one of the best players,(wingers), in the world at the time, the likes of which you'll never see today. I always had a difficulty distinguishing him from Cruyff for they both looked so much alike. When you see a penalty being missed the taker feels let down, but a goalie who lets in a penalty doesn't feel half as bad for it is a giving that the odds are much greater for a goalie to let one in than for a shooter missing it. Many players refuse to take a penalty because if they miss ,they will look bad but a goalie knows that he has a slight chance in stopping it.
    That is a cute anecdote about Rensenbrink and perhaps he pulls it in practice but I'll guarantee in the big game he won't pull that, as a matter of fact he did not take any of the penalties at WC'74...And if you really believe that than I got a bridge in Brooklyn that I can sell you. There was a great player much better than Rensenbrink ,his name was Puskas, one of the greatest shooter ever, who had the ability of juggling a bar of soap while showering during his days at Real Madrid. Another great who could shoot like that was Ernst Happel , the coach of Holland in WC'78
    who as told by Rensenbrink , for he couldn't believe what he saw Happel do. Rensenbrink couldn't believe how Ernst Happel wearing fancy Italian dress shoes was able to knock a coke bottle of the cross bar from the edge of the sixteen , twice in a row....Arie Haan a teammate of Rensenbrink at Anderlecht told the same story...

  18. John Pepple, July 16, 2017 at 2:03 p.m.

    I got involved in soccer in the 1970s, and back then people seemed to have no trouble in taking and making penalty kicks. I myself took them for my team, and I always looked forward to doing so. I knew that the odds were enormously in my favor and that even if my aim was off a bit, the likelihood was that it was going to go in anyway.

    I can't imagine why any shooter would feel pressure in this situation, unless they have terrible aim or they are bad at calculating the odds.

    Frank Schoon: I'm glad you brought up Puskas. Somewhere I read that he and the other Hungarian forwards would spend an hour after practice working on shooting. Later on when he became a coach, he said his forwards wouldn't bother doing that.

    In Brilliant Orange, it seems that it's the same story with the Dutch. They used to practice taking penalties, but then they stopped and got bad at them.

  19. Kent James replied, July 16, 2017 at 2:45 p.m.

    Keepers today are much bigger and more athletic than keepers in the 70s, and the goal size remains the same, so I think it was easier to score on a PK in the seventies. If a keeper guess the correct way, they have a decent chance to save it.

  20. Jay Wall replied, July 16, 2017 at 10:16 p.m.

    JP there is an old Vince Lombardi quote which applies to most Penalty Kicks and play as time passes in games. "Fatigue and dehydration makes cowards of all of us". It's what happens when players get tired and with good coaching can largely be avoided, but far too many coaches don't know how. > Dehydration can largely be avoided with a pre-game and half time hydration program of water and some fluid that replaces electrolytes based on the players gender, height and weight. Fatigue can be postponed by providing the fast and slow twitch muscles with the one source of energy required to convert what the body has stored in it to energy. Coaches should teach all players the deep breathing technique required to constantly replace the oxygen in the blood stream by proper breathing. When you breathe properly you can continue to convert what is stored in the muscles into energy and play at a higher level for longer. Yes players eventually get tired, that's what a coach also needs to teach players the breathing technique to increase lung capacity.

  21. Nick Daverese replied, July 16, 2017 at 10:33 p.m.

    John that was why you were good at them you had the right mind set to take them. I was a back never even thought about wanting to take them. That was a big reason why I never took them except if the game went to PKs and I had to take them. Mind over matter is the key. In extra time the advantage swings from the taker to the keeper because of fatigue. The keeper has to really believe that to do well. When you were a player and when I was a player the keeper could leave his line and come out thus making the goal smaller like the Nicaragua keeper did in this game. No official would call it when we played. But after Briana Scurry did it in a World Cup and an Argentina keeper did in during the WC tournament in 1998. Everything has changed now.

  22. Kevin Leahy, July 16, 2017 at 2:10 p.m.

    Last statistics I saw said that, only 63% of PK's @ the highest level of play are successful . If that is true, I want the one who makes 8 or 9 out of ten.

  23. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, July 17, 2017 at 10:19 a.m.

    There weren't that many stats available on this when I googled it but they all showed higher percentages than that. It's 81% in the world cup since 1966 although that is not a huge sample size.

  24. Kent James, July 16, 2017 at 2:59 p.m.

    I didn't think Pontius or Dwyer were really worse than anyone else (so didn't deserve being rated the only 4s), but I guess there is some pressure not to give everyone a 5. Miazga's goal was very nice, but I think Zusi's perfect gross (and Nicaragua's decision not to mark him!) made it a pretty simple one, so I thought the 7 was a bit high. Besler and Miazga didn't have a lot to do, but they did it well. Bedoya was the best player on the field, McCarthy and Rowe both helped their cases (though McCarthy seemed to be knocked off the ball a bit too much; I think he was looking for fouls, which the ref refused to give him, and I think that the ref was largely correct not to, though he seemed to give some very similar fouls to the Nicaraguans who were looking for them). McCarthy plays simply and quickly, which we need a bit more of. Hamid did distribute well, though sometimes his first touch made me nervous (especially when there was danger nearby), but his passes were good (and the one tough save he had to make, he did).

  25. Bob Ashpole replied, July 16, 2017 at 3:53 p.m.

    The part I didn't like was Agudelo (name misspelled in article) being rated higher than Pontius, Corona and Dwyer. To me Adudelo looks too slow for international soccer. I mean tactical speed, referring to over all speed of play. I want to see forwards who are fast enough that the defense has to pull them down from behind after they are beat. My opinion could be wrong, but still how is he rated above Corona?

  26. Jay Wall replied, July 16, 2017 at 10:50 p.m.

    B.A. reference speed, there is a Cruyff quote that "there is only one instant when you can arrive on time, it you miss it you are either too early or too late". If you leave early and arrive early you usually take an opponent with you and look slow. If you leave late and arrive late you miss the play and look slow. So is the player slow moving and mentally slow. Coaches usually focus on running, few work on the mental game. > In a northern European study most referees, coaches and players cross all levels and ages of play stared at the ball or player in possession 54 seconds a minute and only scanned for teammates, opponents and spaces 4 times a minute for 6 seconds. The best elite professional players fixated on the ball 34 seconds and scanned the field 26 times for 26 seconds a minute and anticipated much faster. Online and in practice scanning and scan rate frequency training can improve most players. > Players who constantly scan well make constant in game adjustments and rarely show up late, regardless of their running speed. The quality of their decisions is also exceptional. > In studies players doing short term online and in the lab visual memory exercises three times a week for 15 minutes for 8 weeks improved their short term memory recall rate, speed and accuracy by over 70%. In a study of long term visual memory, players looked at 3,000 game related visuals (pics and diagrams) over 8 weeks and in a test at the end were able to correctly identify 93-94% of 150 they had studied when displayed with an equal number of visuals that they had never seen. > In games you always notice the player who isn't on time, the question is always is it a physical running problem or a mental decision making issue.

  27. Ric Fonseca, July 16, 2017 at 5:20 p.m.

    It was an interesting game, indeed, Nicaragua decided to play it hard against the Americanitos, and on the other hand, the guys, "our" guys just thought the Nicos were going to give it to the guys with the bars and stars. Doesn't seem to surprise me , though, and I said the same thing in other posts, most Latin american teams are just NOT going to lay down for the US, and yet, it seems to be time and again, that the Americans fall under the spell that they will have an easy go in the game. This reminds me of my college years when UCLA played, the opposition always played much harder and tougher than us, yet we had a coach who always prepared us to play our game and not play to the level of the opponents as they would and always played us much tougher. So it is the Nicos this time, previously the Canaleros, La "H", the Selecta, El Tri, or Reggae Boys, etc., that ratcheit up their game, while our guys USMNT, think they're gonna lay down on the job.

  28. James Madison, July 16, 2017 at 8:48 p.m.

    Bedoya, Hamid, McCarty and Miazga all merited 6's, and Miazga gets a bonus point for his goal. The rest merited 5's, except that Corona and Rowe get bonus points for their goals, Zusi should get one for his perfect DFK, and maybe Dwyer and Corona should get a deduct for their not-so-good penalty kicks. Bob Ashpole is right about Agudelo's lack of speed.

  29. John Pepple, July 16, 2017 at 11:33 p.m.

    Kent James: I watch penalty kicks very carefully, and occasionally I see players who do manage to place the shot well. And on some of those occasions, the goalie guesses right, too, yet the shot still goes in because the goalie can't quite get to it. The typical penalty kick that is saved is a kick that is poorly placed.

  30. Dan Eckert, July 17, 2017 at 7:26 a.m.

    Let's give Bruce a 8 for FINALLY PLAYING SOMEONE ELSE OTHER THAN GUZAN in goal.

  31. Nick Daverese, July 17, 2017 at 8:18 a.m.

    Dan I agree I never saw the new US guy in goal before. I think he has a future I really like his distributions. He gets it to them fast with low throws that are easy to control while they are running.

  32. Albert Harris, July 17, 2017 at 12:40 p.m.

    I did smile seeing all the discussions of 'calming' and breathing before taking a PK. I think back to Landon Donovan who was ragged on constantly for his OCD routine before taking a penalty kick. During his career, he scored on between 85 to 90% of his PKs though. As nutty as it looked, it seems he had the mental part of the game down correctly.

  33. Rusty Welch, July 18, 2017 at noon

    Great effort, much better passing than in the game against Martinique - still has a lot of room for improvement, but what I didn't see this game were the lazy dribbler passes that plagued the earlier game. Most were fairly crisp, and with more purpose, so kudos to Arena and the team on that improvement. The team looked a lot more alive this game - good efforts, still needs a lot more polishing but encouraging. Looking forward to seeing how the veterans mix in with this group and whether they continue to improve as we go forward.

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