SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Graham Zusi

Graham Zusi

Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

Graham Zusi just keeps on churning out impressive performances with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Zusi delivered his latest fine outing for head coach Jurgen Klinsmann on Saturday afternoon in the U.S.’s 2-0 victory over South Korea at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Zusi may not have scored either of the two goals, but he had a hand in setting up both of them up and his overall impactd during the course of his 82-minute outing was more than enough to earn him SBI’s Man of the Match Award.

Chris Wondolowski, who scored both goals for the Americans, was another candidate for the award. Wondolowski set the tone for the match with a fourth-minute rebound header and effectively put it out of reach with his second tally at the hour-mark.

Kyle Beckerman also earned some consideration. Beckerman put in a lot of work on both sides of the ball for the U.S., constantly putting out fires against the speedy and skilled South Koreans and moving the ball around quickly and accurately when the Americans had possession.

Who do you think was the Man of the Match for the victory over South Korea? Cast your vote after the jump:

  • Graham Zusi
  • Kyle Beckerman
  • Chris Wondolowski
  • Omar Gonzalez
  • Nick Rimando
  • Landon Donovan

Who did your vote go to? Agree with SBI? Think Wondolowski deserved the award?

Share your thoughts below.

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61 Responses to SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Graham Zusi

  1. Wess says:

    Kyle Beckerman looked sharp out there. Jermaine Jones better watch out.

    • Zac says:

      He’s definitely looking good to be on the plane to Brazil. Dependable backup that will calm a game down and make it simple for the guys around him

    • fred says:

      Beckerman is probably posses that he’s getting a lot less money than Edu.

      • fred says:

        That should be pissed.

      • Good Jeremy says:

        He strikes me as someone who is happy with his station, and not just because of his dreads.
        If he wanted more money I’m betting he would leave SLC. LA, Portland, Seattle, and Red Bull could give him more money, as could plenty of Scandinavian teams where he could find playing time.

        • Spectra says:

          I met Kyle about 8 years ago in Costco at a table by himself. My wife said hey who’s that guy with dredd-locks sitting at that table by himself. He was selling signed shirts of himself. I approached him and he was really cool. I think he makes enough money now to not have to do that but man alot of MLS guys have had humble beginnings.
          What is the league minimum now?

          • Neruda says:

            I remember meeting nick rimando at ikea in draper. I’m a cheep skate so I was rummaging through the as-is section and I ran into rimando and said hi and told him I’m a big fan. He’s very gracious and an all around class act. He was scoping out deals in ikea but I bet he can afford to shop at rate and barrel now.

      • Shyam says:

        He’s also probably pissed he possesses less talent.

  2. Maykol says:

    Mix stood out in the first half. Wasnt too impressed with any of the fullbacks

  3. Brad says:

    I thought Parkhurst looked good, and should have his name up there as a candidate, at least.

    • Mark says:

      I thought he was out of position and getting torched a lot in the first half. He was right in front of me.

      • Kev says:

        You sure it wasn’t Evans? I thought Evans looked real bad and got torched. That outing from him made me really nervous about our RB situation. From TV, it appeared Parkhurst handled his flank well.

        I don’t think Magee would have had an impact but thought it was a big shame that his shot was taken away by food poisoning. Felt for the guy.

        Wondo – great poacher. Finds the net. However, man of the match consideration? Come on. A rebound goal and a gift from Donovan. That layoff by LD really was great, set it up on a platter. I absolutely understand that goals are goals and that is his job, but do I think he is World Cup worthy? I take a healthy Gomez over him any day. They praise Wondo for scoring goals but the majority came from minnows in the Gold Cup. As soon as we played into the knockout rounds, where was Wondo? Scoring against a domestic side from South Korea is better but still. I just am bothered by the accolades when he is not an international player. With all my rambling, it is good to see a hard-working player. That, I can’t dismiss.

  4. Good Jeremy says:

    I thought the midfield needed a lot of help, they had a good 20 minute clip in our section where our midfield couldn’t bail us out. They beat us down the flank a handful of times too. The lack of Bradley to calm everything down was obvious.

    • John says:

      Alot of people seem to want Bradley paired with someone who play a more defensive roll so he can get forward. However I think the most important thing Bradley does is drop back and gives the back four an out let that can then turn up field. That was missed in a big way today.

      I also think the Mexico scoreline is somewhat distorting our veiw of this Korea team. They put some good pressure on Mexico at times in that match as well.

      • Bac says:

        John you are on the money. Everyone talks as if Bradley belongs further up the field as a playmaker, and they think that’s what he wants too, but I’ve heard HIM say he prefers coming into the attack late, and we have such better linkage when he’s deeper… I don’t know why so many fans are fixated as you say, but you nailed it

        • KingGoogleyEye says:

          John, Bac: It’s true that Bradley is a CDM, not a CAM. It’s also true that he is the outlet for the back four (so they don’t have to resort to long clearances).

          It is also true that Bradley, when allowed, can act as a pivot for the *front* four so they can move around and don’t give up on the attack. Many fans don’t articulate that quite right—they say they want him “attacking”—but I think this is what they are getting at. Playing the “withdrawn attacker” is what allows Bradley to, in his own words (according to your quote), “come into the attack late.”

        • Brett says:

          Sometimes its more about what roles we have players to fill. Bradley might be more comfortable in the defensive role, but we have other players who are good in that role who do not join as well as Bradley does in attack.

          We want Bradley in the attack because he has the skillset. We remember his final year at Herenveen where he was a monster in and around the area and feel like he can supply that element with the national team.

      • whoop-whoop says:

        I only saw bits of the first and the entire second half of the Mexico match… was 2-0 for most of it and looked strikingly similar to the US match. Korea had a few complete melt downs late that made the final score somewhat deceiving, but on the whole, the balance of play was very similar with Mexico doing a lot of the same side to side passes 40 yards out.

  5. dissenter says:

    Man of the Match Wondo by a landslide. Great instincts on where to be. Zusi had a better second half; his first half, he spent more time taking his team’s space away and killing attacks then creating either. Beckermann was poor in transitional defending and seemed 50/50 in passing. With the slightest pressure his vision disappears. Donovan looked to be playing his way into form still. Which he can do, because he has done the world cup thing. His work ethic was that of a true leader.

  6. Justin says:

    I voted for Zlatan

  7. Mark says:

    I thought Eddie Johnson’s level if effort was an insult to anyone hopeful to wear the Stars and Stripes in Brazil.

    • John says:

      Well he was injured

    • MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

      Calm down

    • JH says:

      I saw the game live. I thought that he wasn’t getting much service at all. Also, by the time he came into the game, several other subs were introduced and things really slowed down. He really didn’t get a fair look. One more observation was when he tried to fake out the opposing defender and ended up putting the ball out of bounds. At that moment, he didn’t look like he was himself or that into the game (at the time I didn’t realize that he was injured).

  8. mike says:

    Davis for me was great tonight. Should have been mentioned in this article! Great grit and hustle.

    • Freddy Adu says:

      Sorry Mike, go back and watch that 1st half again and you’ll find he was one of the weakest on the field. Literally responsible for several counters due to giving the ball up in bad situations.

      I like the guy a lot but he looked in over his head out there and was the weakest part of connecting play. Pretty disappointing for me

    • Twomilerule says:

      Davis and Evans both players performances were sub par for a middle of the road international friendly. The two of them gave the ball up in dangerous areas and far from level required in WC play

    • bryan says:

      You like bad turnovers?

    • whoop-whoop says:

      wow.

  9. Dennis says:

    Rimando made every save he should have and a couple that were unexpectedly good. Not sure it rises to MOTM, but a soft performance by the keeper would have made the final scoreline a lot closer.

  10. Bac says:

    Alexi Lalas actually said something insightful during post game, when he said the biggest challenge will be getting these guys in the right “speed of thought” not just speed of play…
    He’s exactly right, which is why the small mistakes of Evans, or missed passes out of the back, or a hospital ball by Davis, or EJ doing stepovers to turnovers, will be the difference between winning and losing in Brazil..
    Guys like Evans, Davis, Wondo, are a lost cause at the speed of thought and play needed to fill their respective spots.
    Zusi and Beckerman are knocking on the door to at least be in the conversation, because their IQ is better and they have less limitations, but just on the edge
    EJ is still in the conversation for one reason… he can jump high.. period…
    Mix will not match up vs Ghana at all, but may be an option for Portugal..
    Believe it or not, Parkhurst didn’t hurt himself today, for someone who has barely played in 6 months, and was wrong footed, he didn’t do that bad…. but he can’t get forward down the left side… but he’s better than Evans.. his defender’s IQ much higher and he’s quicker than him-but it’s Cams spot

    If we get those two fullback spots filled with fullbacks who belong.. I think you will see a better cohesion between Omar and Besler…

    Regrets from today? Food poisoning… Mike deserved a shot to see if he was capable of meeting that standard of “speed of thought” against someone other than an MLS team…

    • Increase says:

      EJ jumps so High. But his hair was wrong tonight. Gotta fix that.

    • truthiness says:

      so…. Wondo twice making split second decisions and putting the ball in the net is too slow, against a Korea side you are lamenting Magee not getting time to prove his speed of thought. Huh, not much speed of thought going on there.

      • Bac says:

        Truth… unlike other posters on SBI I never insult other people individually who express their opinions.. but to simply respond to your point…
        1. Wondo scoring against a SK b team, or Belize, or in the MLS makes my point. I don’t judge a players based upon one or two games, and every time one gets amped up about him he has never shown he belongs on the international stage…
        2. Which was my point about Magee, who has never had a chance to play an international game . Even if it’s our b team, he would have to show he belonged on a team he didn’t train with every day against competition other than MLS… and even if he’s a late bloomer, it’s a shame we didn’t get to see him

        • dikranovich says:

          wondo score .58 goals per every 90 minutes. magee score .31 goals every 90. both in MLS. wondo is proving a nose for goal, and he has the backing of landon Donovan. that’s not to bad when you consider Donovan played with magee.

    • West of the Cascades says:

      I think MLS is going to improve dramatically over the next few years in “speed of thought” – it’s no surprise that Zusi and Beckerman play for two of the MLS teams that are ahead of the curve in that respect. I’m from Portland and Caleb Porter has brought an emphasis on quick thinking/reaction on and off the ball to the Timbers, which should only improve this year with a few new acquisitions. Success in MLS will become a matter of catching up with the best teams on this particular vector … I’ll predict that by (gag) Russia 2018, this is no longer an issue for any of the USMNT players who play in MLS.

      • Bac says:

        An interesting thought that would lead to another discussion entirely…. I don’t know if 4 years is a realistic time frame, as all the coaches aren’t Porter, and our youth academies are light years behind our Euro counterparts, but yes it will happen .. we’ll get there

        • alf says:

          light years??? NO

          • Bac says:

            Alf, I spent a summer in Germany and Holland playing with a U-21 club, we played in pick up games, 2 tournaments, and spent a week and a half at the Dutch National training facility… they had 8 year old kids doing ball skill exercises that humbled us.
            One example: These kids would do scissor kicks off full speed crosses with the adult sized ball into a small net, and couldn’t go to the next drill till they hit the target 100 times… Yea… light years…

            • Bac says:

              And when I mean full scissor kicks, I mean fully launched and horizontal … and yes, they laughed at all of us as we tried the same drill…
              Light years

      • whoop-whoop says:

        I would go along with less of an issue as I agree that we are headed in the right direction. These kind of changes league wide take time..
        .

    • chris_thebassplayer says:

      You’re way off base if you think think Wondo doesn’t have speed of thought. That’s his best attribute.

  11. usaalltheway says:

    My thoughts ( and I know some of you are going to take them as a referendum on you as an individual or human being and get nasty as a consequence)

    1) Mix was great, especially in the first half.

    2) Evans and Parkhurst should not be allowed on the field for the USMNT anymore. But we all know that isn’t going to happen. Our fullback situation better get resolved soon or we are going to bleed goals in Brazil.

    3) LD was nowhere to be be seen expect for that first play. Seem funny that no one else has mentioned this.

    4) Wondo has a great ability to finish. Perhaps he should be in Brazil. I still really don’t know.

    5) South Koreans are good at this game. Very fast, very technical with great team chemistry. Given that this was their B team, I bet they do well in Brazil.

    6) This knocking the ball around the back is not “possession” football. It’s an innovation for pressure from our opponents and makes the team seem scared to move forward. Plus, we simply don’t have the players for “possession” football in the first place.

    7) Why is it that this team can’t execute a set piece anymore? They are excellent chances for scoring and 9 out of 10 times JK boys can’t even make a shot at it. Even the best teams in the world know this.

    8) This was my definitely not our “B team”. Basically, three out of the four in the back, LD, Mix, Zui, Beckerman and AJ have been our regulars all through qualifying. You add Jozy, MB90 and Dempsey and Howard and that is the team that goes to Brazil.

    9) Since there are so few opportunities left for JK and boys to be together before the World Cup, no one game is “just a friendly” or unimportant anymore. That being said, this game did not inspire confidence in me.

    10) I still don’t think JK is a good coach. He has had enough time to get it down. I don’t see a team that is “clicking”. I don’t see the “master plan”. I see a team that has a snowball’s chance in Manaus of scoring a goal in our group, let only getting out of it.

    All in all, I am not impressed. At least with Bradley the team could boss around lesser opponents, counter with pace and take advantage of set pieces. JK’s team can’t do any of these things nor much of anything else besides knock the ball around the back. The tenacity and “never say die” mentalities are gone. And to be replaced by what? This? Give me a break…

    • Oculus says:

      Your thoughts ( make you look like you have zero soccer IQ, not being nasty, just the truth. Not to mention that these players are in their preseason, which you failed to mention )

      1) “Mix was great”? Mix was horrible. While it wasn’t his fault since he was playing out of position, he did nothing special

      2) Evans, was horrible, this is the only thing you said with fact in it. However Parkhurst, was playing as a LB, not his best position RB and still did great. However none of these FB’s should be jugde, good or bad, since none of these players have yet to enter their season yet
      3) LD, is in preseason form, just like the rest of this team. However since he has a great track record of USMNT success, I think he will be just fine.

      4) “Wondo has a great ability to finish. Perhaps he should be in Brazil. I still really don’t know”? then why even make the point

      5) “South Koreans are good at this game. Very fast, very technical with great team chemistry. Given that this was their B team, I bet they do well in Brazil”. South Korea finish second in their group,one place above Uzbekistan.

      6) “This knocking the ball around the back is not “possession” football. It’s an innovation for pressure from our opponents and makes the team seem scared to move forward”. “Plus, we simply don’t have the players for “possession” football in the first place”. Wrong every time South Korea pressured, we were able to break that pressure. While some of the passes from the CB were off at times, pretty good considering that they are still in their preseason, for the most part we broke pressure. I think the US have a nice flow of players that can play possession style football, and did it during this game. A game that had us having 62% possession at half time. While South Korea only had possession after we went up 2-0.

      7) “Why is it that this team can’t execute a set piece anymore? They are excellent chances for scoring and 9 out of 10 times JK boys can’t even make a shot at it. Even the best teams in the world know this.” Your statement seems odd considering that one of the goals scored against Mexico was a headed, so was a majority of the goals during the gold cup.

      8) “This was my definitely not our B team. Basically, three out of the four in the back, LD, Mix, Zui, Beckerman and AJ have been our regulars all through qualifying. You add Jozy, MB90 and Dempsey and Howard and that is the team that goes to Brazil” Wrong Johannsson, Jones,Bedoya,Geoff Cameron, Johnson, DaMarcus Beasley, Castillo,Brad Guzan. Not to mention Possible players Chandler,Brooks, Boyd Lichaj, Agudelo, Sacha Kljestan & Brek Shea. I say Klinsman have alot of options. South Korea were missing 10-12 players from this , some of these players are going to the WC with South Korea.

      9) “Since there are so few opportunities left for JK and boys to be together before the World Cup, no one game is “just a friendly” or unimportant anymore. That being said, this game did not inspire confidence in me” So having 62% possession, holding a clean sheet, while playing their first competitive games in months, isn’t impressive. hahahahah okay.

      10) “I still don’t think JK is a good coach. He has had enough time to get it down. I don’t see a team that is “clicking”. I don’t see the “master plan”. I see a team that has a snowball’s chance in Manaus of scoring a goal in our group, let only getting out of it.” The US finish with their best record in US Soccer history, yet the team is not clicking?

      “All in all, I am not impressed. At least with Bradley the team could boss around lesser opponents, counter with pace and take advantage of set pieces. JK’s team can’t do any of these things nor much of anything else besides knock the ball around the back. The tenacity and “never say die” mentalities are gone. And to be replaced by what? This? Give me a break…”WHAT???????? Jurgen finish with the best record in US Soccer History, Azteca results, Europe results and no Bob teams never could boss around lesser opponents.

      • Darwin says:

        Saying X was horrible, Y was terrible, and I am unimpressed doesn’t mean you have ‘soccer IQ’.

        It just makes it look like you expect to see FIFA 14 from your couch.

      • MikeV says:

        slow must have something against JK, as you are right on.

  12. the original jb says:

    Thought Zusi did well, particularly in the second half. He seemed to struggle a little in the first half but I think some of that was due to how poor Evans was playing behind him.

    I voted Wondo, and it wasn’t just because he put the two away, though maybe that should be enough. Wondo’s intelligence and ability to make smart runs off the ball are miles ahead of any of our other strikers. I mean, can you imagine if Jozy made some of those runs…

  13. Don the Jewler says:

    Overall the guys looked tired. Jurgen must run them non stop during these extended caps.

    Though Zusi was excellent. He is physically strong and won most 1 v1 match ups. His ball winning ability and ability to track back probably give him the edge over Landon, which may be why Landon was moved up front.

    Both CB’s struggled at times due to the quality of our Lb and RB. Add Cameron and Johnson and it will be a solid back line.

    Would like to have seen more of Yedlin and Gil. Playing Gil as True 10 and pushing Landon wide was nice to see. Gil had the one brief sequence where he showed incredible skill on the ball that I can wait to see more of in the future.

    Progress? Our B team beat their B team, we didn’t play well, knew we were going to win and did.

    • Tony in Quakeland says:

      Not so sure this is a B team and that’s a bit of a worry. Before the game, most people would assume that Donovan, Zuzi, Evans, Gonzales, Besler are WC starters, and no one would be shocked to see Beckerman or Davis get time. We were missing Jozy (love him, but out of form), Dempsey (really out of form) and Bradley. You could argue this was a B+ team, and that is a bit worrying.

      • ronniet says:

        We were also missing Jones, cameron, johannson, Beasley and Fabian Johnson so yes this was our B team smh

  14. Tony in Quakeland says:

    My vote was pretty much “None of the Above”. Lots of rust, no one particularly impressive. Parkhurst made an interesting case for himself. Evans, I thought, hurt himself.

  15. chris_thebassplayer says:

    WTF?!

    In a game where the midfield play was a bit choppy and no one really stood out, and you’re not going to give it to the guy that put in 2 goals in a 2-0 win….and missed an assist by inches…half of our strikers wouldn’t have even been in position to get those opportunities, let alone finish. MotM for the more difficult than it looked upper 90 near post finish…how many guys spray that over the bar or drill it right into the keeper’s gut. c’mon now.