Green, Horvath, Wondolowski star as United States edge Cuba in Havana
The United States did little more than fill an international date with a glorified scrimmage on Friday afternoon in Havana, Cuba. The game was more "historic event" than meaningful soccer exercise, but a 2-0 win will nevertheless feel good for Jurgen Klinsmann and his team, especially in light of the difficult conditions.
The debut of Ethan Horvath in goal represents a step forward in the young player's career, and Julian Green did well on the left side of the American midfield. Steve Birnbaum got 45 more minutes toward his experience total in a U.S. shirt (and suffered a cut for his trouble), but perhaps most importantly, the Americans suffered no significant injuries. That's no small feat considering the conditions.
It's tough to know what to make of a friendly played on such a terrible surface. A bumpy field with barren patches made for difficult passing all afternoon long. Rhythm was essentially nonexistent for the Americans, despite the weakness of the Cuban side. Several key U.S. players looked uncomfortable simply running on the Cuban grass, much less trying to play up to their usual standard. The energy level was low, and if not for Chris Wondolowski, the U.S. might have left Havana with an embarrassing result.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Klinsmann's starting lineup has potential, and might work against weaker opponents in better -- more meaningful -- circumstances and on a better surface. Giving Green a start proved to be a smart move. With a full complement of friendly substitutions, the United States boss was able to get a look at most of his roster.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ethan Horvath, 8 -- Composed and confident. The only American player to make a positive impression in the first half. Bailed the U.S. out a few key saves.
DF DeAndre Yedlin, 6 -- Handled his defensive responsibilities reasonably well, but made no mark in the attack. Subbed at half-time.
DF Geoff Cameron, 5.5 -- Victimized by Cuban movement on a couple of counterattacking opportunities. Like many of his teammates, never found the pace of the field and passed poorly.
DF John Brooks, 5.5 -- Struggled with the rest of his defensive mates to hold and manage a high line. Stumbled on the bumpy field more than once and was likely happy to take a seat at half-time.
DF Fabian Johnson, 5 -- Lethargic and disinterested throughout. Occasionally got forward into the attack but did nothing when there. Did not recover his position quickly enough.
MF Julian Green, 8 -- The most vibrant of the U.S. attackers for most of the day. Created the first goal with a shot, then scored the second by getting on the end of Wondolowski's service.
MF Sacha Kljestan, 7 -- Provided a number of useful balls out of his central midfield position. Showed the vision that earned him a spot back in the national-team picture, even as his teammates were unable to leverage it.
MF Michael Bradley, 6 -- Sat deep as the only holding midfielder in the game at the start. Looked troubled by the Cuban break. Passed well enough, but without much danger.
MF Christian Pulisic, 4.5 -- The Dortmund wunderkind did not enjoy his half in Havana, both because of the rough surface and the physical approach of the Cubans.
FW Bobby Wood, 5.5 -- Popped up in good spots a few times, but wasted the chances he was given. Gave the requisite effort tracking back and making runs off of Jozy Altidore.
FW Jozy Altidore, 5.5 -- A presence and little more at the front of the formation. With the surface so poor, was asked to win a number of long balls in the air, pulling him away from goal and limiting his danger.
FW Chris Wondolowski, 8 -- Took his goal exceptionally well and set up the second. Adapted to the field better than any other American forward.
DF Timothy Chandler, 6 -- Helped with possession as the U.S. played out the second half, defending adequately.
DF Steve Birnbaum, 7 -- Brought needed interest and energy to the back line when he entered at half-time, but suffered a nasty injury when kicked in the head by a Cuban player.
FW Jordan Morris, 6 -- Involved in a few dangerous moments in combination with Wondolowski, including one he stumbled away shortly after entering.
FW Paul Arriola, NR -- Essentially anonymous in a little more than 20 minutes as a second-half substitute.
MF Danny Williams, NR -- Didn't seem to have much success slowing down the Cuban attack, who still found joy on the counter after Williams entered to help stiffen the American midfield.
Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer and the United States national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @davisjsn.