In Bruce Arena’s second match in charge of the USMNT, his second stint as US Manager, they took on Jamaica and in a friendly match that saw many MLS players on both sides of the field including a MLS-heavy US side. One of the more interesting players included in these friendly rosters is “retired” left-back DaMarcus Beasley. He is currently not playing club soccer and is focusing solely on the USMNT.
The cold but beautiful Tennessee night set the match up for one that fans from all over the country and globe would enjoy. The stage was set for FC Dallas defender Walker Zimmerman to make his debut and to grab his first cap for his country. With the stage set, the whistle blown, the match was underway under the floodlights of Finley Stadium against the Reggae Boys.
In the first half, the U.S. dominated possession and chances taken. However, the U.S. struggled to actually make something of those chances. We continued to see the trend of the USMNT that sees them march down the field with ease, only to fail to make that last pass that leads to a goal.
Benny Feilhaber made most of his chances in the first half as he looked confident and calm on the ball in the middle of the field. The U.S. was clearly looking to attack in one of two ways; over the top balls to go over the defenders heads, or beat them down the wings. Neither seemed to really be working for the U.S. Apart from a few chances, it was a rather lackluster half of soccer from both sides.
In the 38th minute Juan Agudelo headed a beautiful through ball to Jordan Morris who appeared to be through on goal, only to shoot it right at the keeper. On the following corner, Dax McCarty took a short ball in and nearly curled it home in the opposite top corner. The half would end 0-0 with the U.S. with loads of attacking chances, just no one to finally put one in the net for them.
On counter attacks the U.S. looked extremely disorganized and extremely vulnerable. Graham Zusi looked completely out of position at RB and Steve Birnbaum was nowhere to be found at the Right Center-Back position. Changes needed to be made for the Americans at halftime. Walker Zimmerman looked like a rock at the back, he made strong confident tackles and passes and had not a mistake in the first half for the USMNT. I would be interested in a center-back pairing consisting of Zimmerman and John Brooks moving forward.
Second half is underway in Chattanooga! Looking for a goal to kick things off.
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) February 4, 2017
At halftime, both managers had swapped out their goalkeepers as David Bingham came on for Luis Robles and Ryan Thompson was subbed on for Andre Blake. After a little bit of confusion and more of the same first half, in the 59th minute the deadlock was broken. A beautiful one-two from Feilhaber and Morris resulted in an easy slotted home finish from Morris to give the US a 1-0 lead.
Shortly after the goal, Feilhaber and McCarty made way for Michael Bradley and Darlington Nagbe. Minutes later Sebastian Lleget had another chance for the USA to make it 2-0 but like the first half, the U.S. struggled to find success in the box. The latter half of the game was lackluster at best as the U.S. continued to not make the best of their chances. The likes of Graham Zusi, Chris Pontius, and Jorge Villafaña all came off to make way for Brad Evans, Alejandro Bedoya, and DeMarcus Beasley respectively. The match would end 1-0 in favor of the United States.
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) February 4, 2017
The USMNT showed a lot of weaknesses tonight as well as several bright spots. Birnbaum did not look like someone who can anchor the backline for the U.S. However, Zimmerman looked strong, confident and looks like he could be set for a big U.S. Soccer future. Did I mention this was his first ever cap for the stars and stripes? Talk about a coming out party for the 23-year-old from Georgia.
Benny Feilhaber looked confident and poised in the middle of the park .He was famously overlooked by Jurgen Klinsmann and is making the best of his chances under new manager Bruce Arena. Could he be the true No.10 the USMNT has been looking for? Possibly, but if tonight is any indication, I think he could be set for the next World Cup roster.
Zusi is clearly not a Right-Back and that showed tonight with how he played. He is an excellent player in his own respect, but every time a pacey winger for Jamaica came running, the winger always ran right by him with ease. Having DeAndre Yedlin back will be huge.
Overall, the win will be big for the confidence of the new management and all MLS players who are getting a fresh start under the new coaches. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come from the U.S., as it was very boring and lackluster soccer. No matter how it is looked at, the United States came out with a win, and that is always a positive.