BRIAN SCIARETTA - Thursday, January 26, 2012
The USMNT wrapped up their January camp with an unconvincing win 1-0 over Panama and here are some notes and match ratings.

Shea is still a work in progress

Brek Shea has shown that he has a tremendous upside but at this stage it is clear he lacks consistency. Shea did not beat any players off a dribble in the two games and he failed to look dangerous in any way.

The real issue appeared to be a lack of confidence. It makes you wonder how his training stint at Arsenal went. The beginning of the MLS season will be important and hopefully Shea can regain the form he had last summer.

Michael Parkhurst is useful

Parkhurst is currently in the middle of a stellar year in Denmark so it was good that Klinsmann gave him a call up.

Over the two games he showed well for the most part. He looked vulnerable to some long balls over the middle and he isn't physically strong. Still he is smart and has a good knowledge as to where to be on the field at all times.

Preferably, it would have been nice to see Parkhurst play right back as well but his distribution out of the back was very good.

Nick Rimando is a very solid keeper

While he only played the first half, Rimando was a good contender to be considered for man-of-the-match with some great saves.

Moving forward, if an injury should happen to Tim Howard, Rimando is certainly in the mix as to who would have to fill in.

Clark came back to reality after Venezuela heroics

Ricardo Clark's late goal against Venezuela was the winner but struggled against Panama with turnovers and the ability to generate offense out of the midfield.

Clark has played some truly great games in the past for the US national team. The best two were the 2009 Confederations Cup triumph over Spain and the 2007 Gold Cup Finals win over Mexico. But his international future is very much in doubt until he can find a quality club where he can start. There is simply too much competition at the position he wants to play.

Jermaine Jones continues to be dominant

Jones was the best player for the US over the two January games. His passing is not as crisp but he works hard to force turnovers and quickly move the ball into the final offensive third.

Jones is the only player with a good chance at starting for the US team when the first team is available.

It was a great idea to play a friendly in Central America

Road games in CONCACAF are tough. They always have been. The crowds are hostile, the fields can be in poor shape, and the calls never go your way.

It is just the way things are and for many of these players, they have never played a game in the road in an environment like that. For these players, it was a great learning experience

Match ratings

Nick Rimando - 7 - Solid performance in the first half that puts him into the mix to be Howard's backup.

AJ DeLaGarza - 4.5 - Was not effective moving the ball up the field. He would have been better at central defense.

Michael Parkhurst - 6 - Smart player but a bit small in central defense to go against powerful forwards. He can be useful to the US team moving forward as a backup. He should have played right back to make better use of his passing.

Geoff Cameron - 4.5 - Made some nice passes but was out of position a few times and hurt the team with the red card. He has talent but still needs some work.

Jermaine Jones - 7 - very good outing when considering that the rest of the midfielders were struggling to generate scoring opportunities. His presence was a very important reason why the US had back to back shutouts.

Brek Shea - 5 - Shea has the ability but failed to put it together and make a positive impression on the game.

Chris Wondolowski - 5.5 - Wondolowski was once again snake-bitten from finding the back of the net but he looked dangerous and was difficult for the Panamanian defense. His header in the first half would normally have been a goal but he forced a great save.

Zach Loyd - 5 - struggled to use the ball with his left foot playing left back. His performance gradually declined until he was subbed out in the 41st minute. Still he was instrumental in the goal with a great cross and had two good combination plays with Shea.

Graham Zusi - 5-5 - was improved from his first performance and was rewarded with his first ever international goal. He probably didn't do enough for any more call-ups in the near future but he had some good moments in each game

Ricardo Clark - 5- too many turnovers and he was unable to help the midfield generate offense. He did have some good moments on defense.

Teal Bunbury - 4.5 - It was another forgetful performance for the talented young forward. His biggest asset is his speed but he was unable to get behind the Panamanian defense and look dangerous. He must have a good start to the MLS season or else his Olympic future is in doubt.


Sean Johnson -6- wasn't as tested as Rimando but still helped preserve the shutout. His distribution needs to improve.

Jeff Parke - 6.5 - A nice debut from the central defender. The defense played better once he came on.

Heath Pearce - 5.5 - Was a calm presence defensively and improved on Loyd's outing. Still he didn't help generate any attack on the left.

Brad Evans -5-5 came in during a difficult time when the US was down a man. He did well to help the US maintain possession.

Jeff Larentowicz - 5.5 - Helped out defensively and his passing was good in moments when the US wanted to hold the ball.

CJ Sapong - 5.5 - Didn't have much service with the US down a man and simply looking to kill the game off when the youngster came on. Still he looked more effective than Bunbury.
Wednesday February 8, 2012 11:09 am
OK, so they beat two south of the border teams, going to Panama and getting a win, even if not prety or convincing is still an accomplisment, specially when it was done with a B/C team. Got to point out that Panama was also playing their B team. The most unfortunate thing about these two games, was that nobody really stood out, not one player showed a performance that stated HEY I'm here. It was good to see Parkhurst again, somewhat promising, but was it good enough to replace any of the regulars on the 1st team? not in my opinion, he can fill in, that's a good option. the goalies did well, not surprised. Jermaine Jones was the best player in both games, that was expected, to me he is a regular 1st team player anyway. Just very disapointed that nobody else stepped up to the plate, no spark, not very promising. Brek, Teal...come on guys, got to want it much more than that.
J. J.
Friday January 27, 2012 3:01 pm
Seems Shea was playing not to get hurt. Wonder if he expects something from Arsenal ? No agression out of hi at all
Friday January 27, 2012 1:53 pm
Really, the grades are too generous. No one excepted Rimando (who made some brilliant saves) should get above 6. The game was of a very poor level, from the US and from Panama.
5 means you did your job. Over 5 is doing something more than is expected. Under 5 is a disappointing performance.

Rimando: 7 (saved our butts quite often)
De la Garza: 4.5 (ineffective on offense, slightly shaky on defense)
Parkhusrt: 5 (decent enough, though weak in the aerial game)
Cameron: 4 (the weaker link in the middle, out of position a few times, and the red card)
Lloyd: 2 (useless aside from his cross that resulted in the goal, more luck than skill on that one though. His defense was non-existent. Panama was less dangerous once he was gone).
Jones: 6 (dominant, though inaccurate in his passing)
Shea: 2 (nothing positive, couldn't create anything or dribble past anyone; a performance to forget)
Wondo: 4 (didn't see much of the ball, but had a golden chance and shanked it. Sure keeper makes a good save, but at that range he needs to put it out of the keepers reach, sorry)
Zusi: 5 (scored a goal, but that's about it)
Clark: 4 (relentless, but caught out of position a few times)
Burnbury: 3 (couldn't hold up the ball at all)

Johnson: 5 (looked very tentative out there, probably jitters)
Parke: 5 (slight improvement over Cameron in the middle)
Pearce: 5 (at least he closed the left side better than Lloyd)
Evans: 5 (did his job, nothing more)
Big Red: 5 (improvement on Clark, showed some poise)
Sapong: 5 (was more effective than Teal)
Friday January 27, 2012 12:08 pm
Seems to me that Rimando's play was horrible. He made some good saves but all of them can be traced back to poor decisions by him. The saves should have been much easier. He looked scared and confused. The difference in the second half was clear. Johnson commanded the penalty box and he communicated well with the defenders.

Rimando has had enough time. Time to cross him off the list

Bill Billingham
Friday January 27, 2012 11:34 am
I heard Shea was down with an illness but played through it all week. That was a rumor from inside the camp, he looked sick.
Friday January 27, 2012 1:52 am
I think your love for Parkhurst blinded you a little on this one. Cameron was the better player all night until the red card, which was semi-questionable in itself. Parkhurst was out of position many times, and he was as much at fault for the red card as Cameron was, if not more so.

Rating Bunbury the same as Cameron is a joke. Bunbury was absolutely horrible.
Friday January 27, 2012 12:21 am
I agree with Alex and Bernie. Right after Twellman said that we possessed the ball for a solid minute and a half and ended up with Sapong holding it up for their guy to knock it out well into their end. I thought Johnson's distribution and Ginger Ninja's great work were keys to changing momentum and killing off the game.
Bernie Walls
Thursday January 26, 2012 11:18 pm
I agree! I'm so happy to see the keepers actually give the guys a chance to make something happen rather than just give it "the big boot", which usually ends up going to the opposing team.
Thursday January 26, 2012 8:20 pm
Is the mention of Johnson's "needs to work on distribution" from your opinion, or just echoing Taylor Twellmans opinion. Twellman mentioned numerous times he just wanted Johnson to boot the ball up the field instead of playing it short. This is the mentallity of the old US teams, but under Jurgen and the style of trying to keep possession, it is critical that the goalkeeped does his part as well. Thus all of the short throws by Johnson fit the bill for what this team is looking for.

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