That up there was Chris Wondo(w)lowski’s third goal (with the extra W!), which came just seconds after Belize scored a stunning tally themselves. It was the flashpoint for the U.S., which ultimately breezed past Belize 6-1 and to the top of its group in the Gold Cup.
Already more than we can say for Mexico and Canada. So count your blessings, I guess.
So here we are. I said after the game that player ratings in games like these are akin to judging your singing ability while you’re being pelted with rocks. The conditions are different, so you have to judge on a more awkwardly composed sliding scale. Joe Corona looked very whatever, but I don’t necessarily think I can honestly kneecap his starting chances based on a fluttery performance in Portland. Same with Wondo, the dude who had a hat trick. I’m still not picking him for the World Cup.
That said, I thought a couple players helped their cases for further inclusion. Here’s a look.
No real clarification necessary here, I think. Donovan scored for a second straight game, and he was clearly the best player on the field for the duration. He played tucked underneath the strikers for much of the night instead of splayed wide right, which was probably more a product of the opposition than anything. Still, it’s clear Klinsmann’s hand is forced here. Barring injury, Donovan will be on the World Cup roster for Brazil. There’s no way around it.
With the exception of Donovan, Beckerman was clearly the most comfortable USMNT player. Based on his lengthening national team career, Beckerman has become a butter-smooth operator in the middle. And it’s not just his ability to hold deep, step around outstretched legs and recycle possession. The touch on his medium-range through balls is outrageously good for a holding midfielder, and his crosses are pinpoint accuracy. Through repetition at RSL, it appears he can now drop a dime on a forehead from the top of the Willis Tower.
Torres is still struggling to live down the Saprissa disaster in 2009, which is a kind of baffling phenomenon. It was an awful performance to be sure, but the stain strangely hasn’t washed off. Though to be fair, it hasn’t been helped by a few unimpressive follow-ups. Plus, when you consider Torres on the wing is like some strange Shakespearian form of torture, whereby a coach forces a player to be able to see his preferred position and yet never play it, it makes more sense that Torres has never really looked settled in the stripes.
Still, he looked good Tuesday, even ripping a killer ball through the Belize abdomen in the first half that DaMarcus Beasley couldn’t finish. Who knows what’ll happen if Klinsmann ever pulls him off the friggin’ left wing?
What a story, even if I was holding my breath every time a Belize player even breathed in his vicinity. Holden scored a goal Tuesday, and it was deserved. He was composed, showed no mental hangups from his time away from the game injured, and in his 45 minutes he showed flashes of being that creative No. 10 we’ve always missed. Not getting too carried away, Holden is probably the most interesting player to watch in the entire pool as we approach Brazil. He’s still an outside shot to make the roster, but I do think he’s in the discussion.
Oh I’m sorry, I forgot this section was for players who didn’t look like parking cones. Carry on.