Biggest Winner - USA
Everything came up red, white, and blue tonight. The United States might not have had the most convincing victory against Paraguay, but the fact is that they won a group that a lot of people predicted they wouldn’t even make it out of. Credit goes almost entirely to a very solid defensive showing with John Brooks putting in quite possibly his best performance in a national team shirt and Brad Guzan coming up big several times to keep the crucial clean sheet. The United States will be disappointed to have collected so many bookings in a scrappy second half performance, but a win is a win, and this was a big one.
Hats off to Costa Rica who had nothing to play for but pride and stunned the 4th ranked team in the world. Two poor performances cost them dearly, but this last result should give them a nice spring as they look towards better results in their next major tournament.
Daily MVP - John Brooks
John Brooks’ performance in the first half and in various moments in an ugly second gives him the MVP for the day. While Dempsey scored the lone goal of the match, his uncharacteristic unselfishness caused multiple missed opportunities that could have closed the game out long before halftime. Brooks, however, had the positional and spatial awareness, as well as perfectly timed tackles prevented two major breakaways that could have sealed the United States’ fate,
Goat of the Day - DeAndre Redl- err...Yedlin
After a respectable 1st half from the entire backline and Guzan, emotions got the best of Yedlin after a harsh tackle in the 48th minute earned him a yellow. Immediately after, DeAndre committed another risky tackle and was booked a second time ending his night early. Whether the first card was warranted or not (it was), his actions put the US on the back foot for the remainder of the match. He will also force Klinsmann to shake up a backline for the following match, after the team finally started developing some cohesiveness.
Biggest Surprise - Gyasi Zardes’ feet
Zardes, who recently seemed to lose his touch and found himself bumbling around the net with the ball finally regained his sea legs, aiding in a run that ultimately found the ball at his feet near the corner flag that he drilled into the box and to Dempsey’s feet for the goal. He continued to show flashes of brilliance throughout the match - with the occasional misjudgement - and looked much more confident on the left side.
Best/Worst Moment - Medics
Paraguay’s medical staff rushed to the aid of referee Bascuñan who cramped up in the middle of the second half. Great sportsmanship from the team behind.
MLS Connection - The Zardes/Dempsey linkup
Ultimately, the cross and shot turned out to be the winner, and both the LA Galaxy homegrown and Seattle Sounder DP connected for the all-important goal of the match.
Final Whistle - United States move on, but not without selling their soul first
The US were able to scrape away a win after going a player down for nearly an entire half, and they will see themselves moving on to the elimination rounds. However, the result came with sacrifice. Yedlin will sit out for a match, a plethora of yellows were obtained, and Klinsmann will have to tinker with a lineup he finally felt comfortable with fielding. Who they will face is still undetermined, but the task will be far more difficult than it should have been.
Ecuador vs. Haiti - 6:30 PM EST (East Rutherford, NJ) - FS2
Brazil vs. Peru - 8:30 PM EST (Foxborough, MA) - FS1