Walker Zimmerman, Benny Feilhaber push U.S. to win against Jamaica
In the second match of the second tenure for Bruce Arena as U.S. national team head coach, the Americans managed to do two things they couldn't in Arena's first match in charge against Serbia: score a goal and collect a win. Despite the relative weakness of the Jamaican team, the U.S. ends January camp on a positive note with the 1-0 victory.
With two forwards ahead of creative influence Benny Feilhaber, the U.S. looked to be a more dynamic side than they were against the Serbians on Sunday. Feilhaber roamed freely under the front line, picking up the ball and dribbling into space on a fairly regular basis. The backline played a near-perfect game, especially the center-back pairing of Walker Zimmerman and Steve Birnbaum.
Until the breakthrough in the 59th minute, the U.S. looked relatively toothless. Possession, something that was a given considering the inexperience of the Jamaican side, did not lead to enough real chances. Too much was left for Feilhaber to do and rarely did an American cross lead to anything of substance. A one-goal win hardly feels like the complete performance the Americans wanted.
Manager rating out of 10
6.5 - Arena changed up his lineup for the second match of the January camp, going so far as to leave Michael Bradley on the bench to start the game. Switching to a two-striker system paid some dividends, and the defensive set up was solid. Arena's substitutions gave him a good look at most of his roster when combined with the Serbia match.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Luis Robles, 5 -- Had very little to do in his 45 minutes on the field, though he was called upon to punch out a driven cross. Played the ball into the path of a Jamaican player, which luckily did not result in a goal.
DF Graham Zusi, 6 -- Played well when pushed up and on the ball, giving the U.S. a smart option to release pressure. Struggled with one-on-one defending and beaten with speed more than once.
DF Steve Birnbaum, 6.5 -- Guilty of doing very little wrong in a 90-minute performance. Made a handful of strong defensive interventions.
DF Walker Zimmerman, 8 -- Excellent all night. Composed and aggressive when necessary. Passed well out of the back and showed bravery by pushing the space in front of him when available.
DF Jorge Villafana, 6.5 -- Solid performance that will put him in good stead moving forward. Rarely out of position. Worked well up the left in attack.
MF Dax McCarty, 6.5 -- Broke up play from his holding-midfield position well. Strong passing for most of the night but did turn the ball over uncharacteristically to start the second half. Played a great pass to set up the goal.
MF Chris Pontius, 5 -- Popped up only sporadically on the right side of the midfield. Presented with a good chance to get a head on a cross in the first half and whiffed. Created a few good moments by pushing to the end line.
MF Benny Feilhaber, 7.5 -- A creative force in the middle of the field during the entirety of his 60 minutes but really showed his quality by setting up the Jordan Morris goal.
MF Sebastian Lletget, 6 -- Provided some good combination play with Villafana on the left side in the first half. Hit a few dangerous crosses and showed his versatility.
FW Jordan Morris, 7 -- Did what forwards are supposed to do by scoring in the 59th minute. Missed a good chance when played in against Jamaica keeper Andre Blake in the first half. Covered lots of ground.
FW Juan Agudelo, 6.5 -- Set the tone for the U.S. with effective pressing early. Excellent workrate but couldn't find the ball in dangerous areas. Faded in the second half.
GK David Bingham, 6 -- Touched the ball only twice in a very quiet second half.
MF Michael Bradley, NR -- Came in just after the U.S. goal and brought composure in central midfield. Sat deep and played smart passes.
MF Darlington Nagbe, NR -- Good with his touch and passing, misplaced a few passes. Did the smart thing to help close out the game.
DF Brad Evans, NR -- Good on the ball. Tested by Sounders teammate O'Neil Fisher more than once and coped well.
MF Alejandro Bedoya -- Added energy and ground coverage in central midfield in a cameo appearance. Missed just one pass.
DF DaMarcus Beasley, NR -- Overlapped very early in his appearance at left back with his trademark speed but touch let him down.
Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer and the United States national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @davisjsn.