Working with a highly experimental lineup, the Nats were patient before intermission and persistent in being decisive after it. Thanks to a Jordan Morris brace, they were able to come out with the points despite blowing a two-goal lead.
Brad Guzan (5.5) – The US netminder made a few strong saves, but boy, he should have stopped the shot on Martinique’s opener.
Eric Lichaj (7) – Aside from a bad first-half giveaway that led to long-range shot, Nottingham Forest’s Player of the Year put in a professional shift in his first international start in over six years. Lichaj didn’t burst forward often, but did notch a nice assist on the US second.
Omar Gonzalez (7) – The Pachuca center back (#3 above) did take a quick nap on one Martinique rush, but was otherwise solid at the back. Gonzo also moved the ball safely and alertly tucked home a rebound to get his side on the board.
Matt Hedges (3.5) – It was a rough night for the FC Dallas defender, who was beaten in several different ways. Most notably, Hedges was caught out by a lunging missed tackle, lost an aerial duel directly in front of the US goal despite having early position and was burned for pace on the buildup for Martinique’s second.
Justin Morrow (6) – The Toronto FC left back was decent in his return to USMNT action after four-and-a-half years. He deftly aided the team’s possession and some rushes up his flank. Though Morrow only served one dangerous cross on the night, he did split three defenders with a pass to initiate the winning goal play.
Cristian Roldan (6) – The midfield debutant was a defensive force in the opening half-hour, but somewhat faded in this regard after that. In particular, Roldan failed to mind the gate to the back line a couple times. However, his work on the ball was steady.
Kellyn Acosta (5.5) – While the FCD midfield ace improved on his Panama showing, he fell well short of shining. Acosta landed his first several restart serves in dangerous spots, but his last few went awry.
Paul Arriola (6) – It was a mixed bag for the Tijuana youngster, who was guilty of some sloppy play in the first half and lax on tracking back to disrupt the shooter on Martinique’s first. However, he was often quicker than the rest in chasing down loose balls in the attacking third, which caused havoc for the visitors’ defense. On one such occasion, Arriola’s seeing-eye drive from a busted corner kick forced the rebound for Gonzalez’s goal.
Gyasi Zardes (7.5) – More than any other US player, Zardes consistently harassed the away defense. While his touch can be inelegant at times, it was also good enough to break free down the left flank to kick-start several rushes. His cutback on Morris’ winner was a thing of beauty.
Juan Agudelo (5) – There were times when Agudelo’s (above) movement unnerved the Martinique back line, but he was inefficient on the ball and too often forced individual play.
Jordan Morris (8) – The Seattle speedster logged his first two-goal game in a US shirt, and it was well deserved. His hold-up play surprisingly provided a fulcrum for the hosts in the first half and his more characteristic runs caused other problems for Martinique. Morris both started and finished the final approach on the winner, which surely induced a widespread sigh of relief.
Coach Bruce Arena (5.5) – Is it fair to be rough on the coach for fielding a line-up that required a lot of introductions? Or is that precisely the reason we shouldn’t be so hard on Arena for what was essentially a middling display? I’m slightly leaning toward the latter because, well… Martinique. Some of those players should have reasonably been expected to perform better. In the end, though, the team got the win and grabbed first place in Group B. Call it mission barely accomplished, and hope for something more emphatic against Nicaragua on Saturday (7 pm ET | Univision, UDN, FXX in US, TSN GO in Canada).
Alejandro Bedoya (6) – The veteran looked lively in his 28 minutes, and it his through ball released Lichaj to cross for Morris’ first goal. Bedoya’s grade was dragged back to average when he was not tuned in enough to close down Johan Audel, whose shot caromed in off a teammate to tie the game.
Chris Pontius (5) – The most notable event of his 17 minutes came when he neglected to track his opposite, who fired the shot that deflected in to momentarily level matters.
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