Commentary

USA-Costa Rica: Men's Friendly Player Ratings

USA-COSTA RICA EXPRESS:
Feb 2 in San Jose, California
USA 2 Costa Rica 0. Goals: Lletget (Lewis) 80, Arriola (Lletget) 88.
Att.: 13,656

In Gregg Berhalter's second game at the helm, following last week's 3-0 win over Panama, the USA outplayed and beat Costa Rica, 2-0, on Saturday. Especially dominant in the second half, the USA got its deserved win with goals from Sebastian Lletget and Paul Arriola. There were two changes from the starting lineup against Panama. Wil Trapp took Michael Bradley's defensive midfield spot and Arriola started in place of attacker Jeremy Ebobisse.

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

GOALKEEPER
Zack Steffen
needed to make only one save, an easy one, and snag a couple crosses. His goal kick, nodded on by Christian Ramirez, helped set up the USA's second goal.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
6 Zack Steffen
(Columbus Crew) 8/0 (23)

DEFENDERS
Right back Nick Lima often moved into the midfield, in the 54th minute hit a rocket against the post, and in the 60th won a corner after dribbling past two Ticos on one of his threatening forays. The central defense duo of Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long won all the high balls and helped limit Costa Rica to one shot. Left back Daniel Lovitz was generally strong on the ball and connected nicely with winger Paul Arriola in the second half.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
7 Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes) 2/0 (24)

6 Walker Zimmerman (LAFC) 6/2 (25)

6 Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls) 4/0 (26)

6 Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact) 2/0 (27)

MIDFIELDERS
Six Costa Rica fouls (and a lenient ref who didn't show a yellow until the fifth) stifled Djordje Mihailovic, who was subbed in the 62nd minute. Wil Trapp passed perfectly throughout the second half, and one of his two excellent cross-field balls led to the first goal. Roldan, who almost made up for his 8-yard miss in the 51st minute with a well-taken 22-yard volley that hit the post in the 69th, toiled so the frontline players had few defensive responsibilities.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
5 Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders) 7/0 (23)

7 Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC) 13/0 (26)

5 Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire) 2/1 (20)

FORWARDS
Corey Baird
failed to serve from the right wing. He shot wide and headed high on two chances. Gyasi Zardes, who shot weakly to the keeper from long range in the first half, harassed Costa Rican defenders but didn't resemble a goal-dangerous center forward. Paul Arriola, who troubled the Ticos backline some in the first half, became a big threat down the wing in the second half. He set up Roldan's big chance and he beat goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado to the ball -- and survived the keeper's late challenge -- to score the USA's second goal.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
4 Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake) 2/0 (23)

4 Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew) 42/6 (27)

7 Paul Arriola (D.C. United) 19/3 (23)

SUBSTITUTES
All three subs made an impact, especially Sebastian Lletget. He headed home Jonathan Lewis' cross to make it 1-0 and -- after latching on Steffen's goal kick via a midfield header from Christian Ramirez -- sent the through ball to Arriola on the second U.S. goal.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
7 Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy) 7/2 (26)

6 Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC) 2/0 (21)

6 Christian Ramirez (LAFC) 2/1 (27)

TRIVIA: With the win, the USA evened its all-time record against the Ticos: 16 wins, 16 losses, and six ties.

Feb 2 in San Jose, Calif.
USA 2 Costa Rica 0. Goals: Lletget (Lewis) 80, Arriola (Lletget) 88.
USA -- Steffen; Lima, Long, Zimmerman, Lovitz; Trapp; Roldan, Mihailovic (Lletget,  63); Baird (Lewis, 70), Zardes (Ramirez, 78), Arriola.
Costa Rica -- Alvarado; Francis, Calvo, Fuller, Arboine (Cubero, 86); Cruz, Loria (Mora, 77), Araya (Scott, 58), Guzman (Monge, 81), Alfaro (Villalobos, 56); Ortiz (McDonald, 63).
Yellow cards: USA -- Zimmerman 72; Costa Rica -- Fuller 53.
Red cards: none
Referee: Fernando Hernandez (Mexico).
Att.: 13,656.

Stats:
USA/Costa Rica
Shots: 12/6
Shots on target: 4/1
Saves: 1/2
Corner Kicks: 7/3
Fouls: 17/18
Offside: 3/0
Possession: 59%/41%

21 comments about "USA-Costa Rica: Men's Friendly Player Ratings".
  1. beautiful game, February 2, 2019 at 8:59 p.m.

    Must be that every USMNT coach in last 3 years likes something about Zardes. Coach B is wasting the forward spot by keeping him on the squad. Perhaps loyalty from the Colombus Crew 2018 season is in the mix; which it shouldn'tbe. Let me repeat myself to adnauseam, physically big and not physical, mediocre technical skills, below average Soccer IQ, and a mediocre striker who brings nothing to the team table. I want to hear rebuttles.

  2. Wooden Ships replied, February 2, 2019 at 9:40 p.m.

    He’s a nice guy? I got nothing. Notice how we had much more positive passing, at a quicker pace without MB? Our touches weren’t always clean and passes were astray on occasion, but not having to accommodate Michael in the middle allowed for a more dynamic transition and attack. 

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, February 2, 2019 at 11:09 p.m.

    WS: The first half was not good. The second was much better. Trap had some bad spells, but played much better in the second half. He was missing from the first 20 minutes, then made some bad decisions and poor passes. We left Costa Rica tons of space with the ball even in our own half. Trap needed a good second half, and got it.

    The flank play was better. The left back did not get forward much. The right back did with some well timed runs. 

    To summarize, I like the way the team was coached. I thought the second half showed progress over the first game. 

  4. Right Winger, February 2, 2019 at 10:08 p.m.

    I say forget about rating the players and rate the team play.  I give the team an 8.  Exciting stuff.

  5. Right Winger, February 2, 2019 at 10:08 p.m.

    I say forget about rating the players and rate the team play.  I give the team an 8.  Exciting stuff.

  6. R2 Dad, February 3, 2019 at 1:20 a.m.

    Guzman's a hack and a flopper to boot--curious how he will survive in MLS this season. I attribute the slow first half to all the fouling allowed that wasn't called (as Mike mentions) because the ref wanted to talk everyone out of fouling--this was an MLS ref on his first international match and it showed. Not enough huevos to card immediately to settle the match down. The female ref in the broadcast booth, identifed as a FIFA representative, thought his foul selection was good, which makes me think she was a CONCAcarnage representative and not FIFA per se. Would like to know what Trapp was thinking at the 40th minute with that clearance into the upper deck when no one was anywhere near him. Still too much ball-watching, our players with their backs to the goal and unable to receive/turn/pass quickly. GB was heard telling the back line to pass more quickly--not a good sign when you're playing a mediocre Costa Rican team in a friendly. Even when someone does make a run, there often isn't enough skill or daring to pick out the runner with an accurate pass. Lima looked good, a much better package and attacking threat than Yedlin. If Zardes could finish 1/3 of his chances you could make a case for him, but no end product says it all. If you're going to play a 4-3-3, we'll need a box-to-box centermid who isn't Trapp nor Bradley. Looking forward to reading Frank and Bob's comments.

  7. Bob Ashpole replied, February 3, 2019 at 12:19 p.m.

    Actually to play a classic 433 successfully, we need at least 6 great CMs in the pool. How they actually play together depends on the individual CMs selected for the match. 

    Roleplayer postions (i.e., 6, 8, 10) is what you use to minimize weaknesses in your CMs. The strongest 433 is when all 3 CMs can play as the 6 or the 10 and all have the skills and knowledge to do whatever task midfield task is need to dominate play, whether it is playmaking, finishing, stopping the counter or ball winning.  

  8. frank schoon replied, February 3, 2019 at 2:50 p.m.

    R2, "CONCAcarnage" LOLOLOLOLOL.  

  9. Kent James, February 3, 2019 at 12:14 p.m.

    I think these ratings are pretty accurate.  I actually think Zardes has improved since he was first on the national team, particularly his touch.  He was able to hold the ball up and drop off passes to players playing off of him.  He's still below the other guys up front on the depth chart, but I don't think he's a lost cause.  Sure, his finishing could be better, but he was getting open to take the shots and while they weren't as good as they should be, neither were they horrible.  Arriola I thought was either exceptionially good or their right back was exceptionally bad, because he was scorching him every time he got the ball.  I also agree that Lima had a great game.  The centerbacks certainly dominated the center of the field.  On the night, considering this is pirmarily a "B" team, I thought they played quite well, and certainly deserved the victory.  

    While the ref did not fall for a lot of dives (so that was good), he probably let some fouls that didn't interfere with play go that he should have called (for game control) and he certainly should have issued some cards earlier. And he probably should have carded Lletget for his attempt to get a penalty (which on first glance, looked pretty convincing).  

  10. frank schoon, February 3, 2019 at 1:20 p.m.

    I was hoping to see a GOOD Costa Rican team but alas,they are just a shade better than the Panamian team. One of the problems is that this team like Panama introduced a lot of new players with debuts, so it is not the strong team we saw in the past. You notice how wide the spacing was between the lines of Costa Rica, sometimes 15meters or more allowing the US players so much space and time on the ball, making it easy for our players. Of course with all that space and time the US players can make runs,runs and more runs. This amount of space given works to the detriment of Costa Rica  whose players are more used short passes, and movement is small groups, instead makin long , counter attacking runs. The field was so spread out it the Costa Ricans couldn't contain the US players.
    This game likewise disappointed me for GB has chosen to maintain a US style of play, that fits in with our typical player ability ,  that is counter attacking,and applying speed and running. Just look at our front line, Zardes, Baird, Ariola, they basically rely on speed , hard work, the Johnny Hustle types, there is not one on the front line that is tricky, savvy, good in small spaces in front of the goal or on the wing...GB basically wants to play sort of like Liverpool.
    So for those who think their is a new era in the style of  play, sorry to burst your bubble, but what you see is "lipstick on a pig". Nothing has changed, we're continuing to playing as we have always played except the system has tweaked..
    In this 3 man formation in the backfield as they move closer to midfield we're going to have a problem with Zimmerman, as you notice in the second half, he had to grab a player arm in order to stop a fast break. Furthermore you notice where Zimmerman and Long post themselves when goalie has the ball, a little above the 6yard line but wide. Notice when Zimmerman receives, the build up is so slow. Roldan comes back for the pass with his back facing down, having little or no view of the field, and worse since he receives the ball on his right foot nearest to the opponent and obviously you don't have to be a genius to understand the resulting effect of this. Zimmerman is not good on the ball. He is actuallly a centerback who plays wide in the 3 man backfield,he's slow  lacks good passing skills when under pressure.  NEXT  POST

  11. frank schoon, February 3, 2019 at 1:20 p.m.

    We lack an effective build up  for any ball coming from the back 3 is usually to a man with his back facing downfield and if it's to the flank it is usually going to a player on the flank that is running back to receive the ball when instead it should be the opposite, running down the flank away from the passer. Also because of having a back 3 we forego a forward movement of one the back three to create a give and go pass, there by allowing a full field of view for the next pass, upfield.  Luckily we have Mihailovic who is able to receive the ball on the run coming to the ball at midfield and continue the play with his back facing downfield.
    I also notice the backfield is always standing stationary when receiving a ball from the goalie. That characteristic is seen just about anywhere.. a defender receiving the STANDING STATIONARY.
    Furthermore our front line, especially the centerforward, whoever that is at the moment, needs to running DIAGONALLY away from the ball instead of straight down. In other words if our left wing or Mihailovic has the ball then Zardes should not run straight down field or come towards  the leftside but make a run ,direction far post, thus creating a big gap ,pulling his defender away from the middle, which leaves space for himself to run back into to meet the ball or an attacking midfielder to run into.
    In sum I would like to see the US play a Good team ,whose is able to possess the ball well and is much better structured as compared to Costa Rica or Panama; for playing weak teams doesn't do us any good except create "field good" feelings about how well we're playing without really finding where we are weak at. 

  12. frank schoon, February 3, 2019 at 3:08 p.m.

    I do believe Tactically the 3man backfield needs to change for several reason. One, I worry about a fast counterattacking break, as was shown in the second half at midfield with Zimmerman. The 3man backfield does nothing for Zimmerman, instead place a guy like Lima or Roldan there, for they are much quicker. I mean , why do you put a slow, tall center back who is not that in quick ball handling skills on the flank. I were a coach this is what would like ,which is to force the opponent's centerback to go near the flank in a wide open space. Note if the wing cuts inside between the space of Zimmerman and Long which leaves Zimmerman useless for the can't with his left.
    Three, if you have 2 centerbacks in the middle or sweeper and centerback then you a perfect triangle when you include the #6 , Trapp or whoever. That will   outnumber the opponent striker in the middle 3v1. And within that combination ,3v1,  we can employ the third man receiving the ball facing downfield and while moving up . In other words, lets say Zimmerman passes to Trapp who lays it off to upcoming Long who receives the ball beyond the opponent striker.  And as he proceeds up to midfield he will force one of the opponent's midfielders to leave one of our midfielders ,be it Mihailovic, Roldan or whoever to pick Long up...That is how you create the extra man at midfield. Instead now we have guys around midfield waiting for a predictable ball coming from the back to one of our midfielders facing with his back downfield

  13. Bob Ashpole replied, February 3, 2019 at 6:33 p.m.

    I am not giving up yet. I think the coach is moving in the right direction. What he did this match was play a more coventional US 442 with a second striker behind Zardes. I think he did it to generate more flank play. The team didn't stay as compact and didn't break the lines as neatly as last game. Perhaps the poor opposition lead to the long ball approach.

    I was concentrating on watching Trap during the first half and until it was apparent that he picked up his game in the 2nd half. But I think I saw the same things you are talking about. The problem is primarily the movement off the ball, the positioning, the speed of play, and the decision making. Those points are all related and the difference between same old-same old and improved play. 

    The coach was still complaining about the speed of play so that could mean that he wants everything to be better.

  14. Bob Ashpole replied, February 3, 2019 at 6:37 p.m.

    I wanted to add that I wasn't so concerned about the coaches game plan with these players because I think his game plan was based on what he wants to do in a month when the players from Europe are included.

  15. frank schoon replied, February 4, 2019 at 9:46 a.m.

    Bob, I'm disappointed but I should know better than to expect ,what would I like to see, or at least  the incipient stage of it, which is to get away from the run and gun, counter attacking play, which basically describes our style of play in the past 50 years. What GB is doing is simply  employing what we are good at, which is hustle, and running. His system is pretty well based on this, instead of accenting the finer aspects of the game. But ,then again , how could he be a catalyst for  higher level of play, for he, himself, never was not a technical player himself, having only played some second division on some non-descript teams in Europe,  just a defender whose job was to simply stop opponents.
    I know everybody is excited seeing a new generation of players, replacing the old "rot" but don't be blinded to the fact GB is still employing soccer the way old rot played. That's is only difference with some different playing accents on the field. We're not going to see anything different other than new players, for their foundation of having learned their game has not changed.
    In order for our style of game to improve it would also need to get rid of the old "rot", the way of thinking ,coaching/training as how it is taught  currently at our USSF coaching Academy. We need a different type of Instructors to teach our coaches the changes in how we develop our players, otherwise we'll continue producing the same stiffs.....

  16. frank schoon replied, February 4, 2019 at 10 a.m.

    Bob , I'm also further disappointed at GB's selection of assistant coaches. Who does he have that could really teach deeper insights , higher level info to the players. If you look at the Dutch bench of assisstant coaches, for example, they have, Van Persy,Ruud van Nistlerooy, Bergkamp, Ronald de Boer, van Basten,to work with the attack or strikers; at midfield ,a van der Vaart, Wesley Sneyder, etc; on defense, Jaap Stam, and many other, all who have played at the highest level.....what do we have ????? Come on!!!
    If was made coach, I would  bring in retired great players as assistants. Valderama for midfield, or Teofilla Cubillas for the attackers, etc, or ask Zlatan to come by at times to give tips, contact Schweinsteiger for his insights,etc. I would contact Frank de Boer or hire him as a consultant for he is here and besides him beginning to know a lot of the MLS players, he wil have lots of knowledge and insights to offer. 
    In sum if we are going to improve US soccer we need to get the best involved.....

  17. Bob Ashpole replied, February 4, 2019 at 4:42 p.m.

    I agree about the assistants. They were apparently selected based on GB comfort level working with them. That dream would be nice Frank, but, human nature being what it is, managers (speaking broadly not just sports) rarely hire people who are better than they are for fear of competition for their job. It is a sign of bad management, but then a lot of managers are bad managers.

    1) I haven't given up hope yet that GB is trying to apply Dutch System principles as he knows them.

    2) I believe players with strong fundamentals can be coached to play any style. 

    The obvious limitation is "with strong fundamentals". Time will tell if the USMNT will go in a new direction.

  18. frank schoon replied, February 4, 2019 at 4:49 p.m.

    Bob, Can't argue with that....I just re-read the book by Dennis Bergkamp " Stillness And Speed"...I would recommend you getting it via Amazon....It is a great book ,especially how he sees soccer and ofcourse he's a Cruyff disciple...The second time I picked up the book so much more came out that somehow was overlooked...

  19. Bob Ashpole replied, February 4, 2019 at 11:38 p.m.

    Thanks Frank. I will read it. 

  20. stan kull, February 4, 2019 at 12:02 p.m.

    Gb used a plan from Guardiola:  https://ftw.usatoday.com/2019/01/usmnt-panama-gregg-berhalter-guardiola       Not as effective with Costa Rica.


  21. Bob Ashpole replied, February 4, 2019 at 4:45 p.m.

    That sums up the 2 matches very succinctly, Stan. 

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