Llanez 7/10, Ferreira 6/10 as U.S. close January camp with a win
The United States closed out its annual January national team camp with a 1-0 win against Costa Rica in Carson, California, on Saturday afternoon. A sparse crowd witnessed a young, experimental group dominate the ball against the Ticos and find a single goal from a Ulysses Llanez penalty to finish the month-long gathering with a win.
The U.S. team featured little in the way of experience, with all but a few spots on the field filled by players under the age of 23. Despite the paucity of veteran presence, the Americans largely controlled the game. Several effective partnerships developed across the field, and the understanding of Gregg Berhalter's system of play was obvious.
For all their possession, the Americans struggled to create clear-cut chances and proved unable to put the Ticos away. Against a packed-in defensive setup, play was often slow and lethargic. The chances that did come went wanting, aside from Llanez's excellently taken penalty early in the second half.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Considering the context of a friendly following a January camp and the young makeup of the team, head coach Gregg Berhalter gets a good grade for the narrow win.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Sean Johnson, 6 -- Hung out to dry but saved by the bar in the first half. Made one simple save before coming off with a quarter of an hour to go.
DF Reggie Cannon, 7 -- Heavily involved all match and particularly good up the field. Made the run that resulted in the penalty that gave the Americans the first goal and only of the game.
DF Aaron Long, 7 -- Consistently well-positioned and applied smart pressure when necessary. Good with the ball playing out of the back and provided leadership for a young group as captain.
DF Walker Zimmerman, 7 -- Read the game well in defense and played smart with the ball when in possession. Contributed a few moments of last-ditch defending to maintain the clean sheet.
DF Sam Vines, 5 -- Up and down with crossing from the left side of the formation and worked well with Llanez up the flank.
MF Jackson Yueill, 7 -- Smart and accurate with the ball and showcased the passing ability that will keep him in the national team picture.
MF Brenden Aaronson, 5 -- Didn't look out of place but struggled to impact the game.
MF Sebastian Lletget, 6 -- Provided the main creative attacking element, particularly in the first half. Produced good set-piece service but was slightly short of full sharpness.
FW Ulysses Llanez, 7 -- Bright and inventive on numerous occasions. Seemed to slow a bit after a collision with the goalkeeper in the first half but soon reestablished himself as the most dangerous American attacker. Cool and calm with his penalty.
FW Paul Arriola, 6 -- Largely missing in the first half but improved in the second. Played the pass to Cannon that led to the penalty and was good defensively as well.
FW Jesus Ferreira, 6 - Delivered a competent performance on his national team debut. Gave defenders fits with good movement and facilitated chances by dropping in and playing clever passes.
DF Mark McKenzie, N/R -- No notable mistakes in his full national team debut.
FW Gyasi Zardes, N/R -- Had goal called back for offside and showed excellent understanding of Berhalter's system, with which he has more experience than most.
MF Brandon Servania, N/R -- Played a quiet stretch with just a few touches.
FW Jonathan Lewis, N/R -- Mostly invisible and did nothing going forward in his limited time on the pitch.
GK Bill Hamid, N/R -- Came on for the last 15 minutes and got a few touches of the ball in his return to the national team.
DF Chase Gasper, N/R -- Involved in the late push for a second U.S. goal, but his decision-making on the defensive end was questionable.