Kljestan, Gooch provide calm in messy U.S. midfield in draw vs. New Zealand

With 30 days to go until the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying begins, Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. national team played to a 1-1 draw with New Zealand at RFK Stadium in front of a small but vibrant crowd.


Similar to Friday's friendly against Cuba, the positives for the Americans came down to the individual performances of a select few players. Julian Green again showed the skill that makes him such a tantalizing possible addition to the team's arsenal. Sacha Kljestan did his chances of starting during the Hex no harm with a technically sound, heady performance in midfield. The debut of Lynden Gooch was an additional bright spot, as was the return of Terrence Boyd after a long injury layoff.


It's a good thing so many of the U.S. national team's starters have already departed, or there would be serious questions about this team's preparedness for the Hex. The Americans lacked cohesion, showed very little understanding of how to play in the 4-3-3 that Klinsmann set them out in, and defended poorly against a very direct Kiwi side. The U.S. did not look up to the physical tone New Zealand set and spent most of the night working out of trouble.

Manager rating out of 10

5 -- Klinsmann rolled out another team with several players playing out of position and used a formation that the U.S. have rarely looked comfortable in. He gets credit for starting Kljestan in a playmaking role, but the Americans clearly need a partner for Jozy Altidore at forward. The coach only used five of his six substitutions, an odd decision considering the experimental nature of the roster.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK William Yarbrough, 5.5 -- The Leon goalkeeper looked nervous from the start, failing to project much confidence behind a back line that admittedly made his life difficult for 45 minutes. Did not concede, but did not shine.

DF Kellyn Acosta, 6 -- Lined up at full-back, a position he rarely plays for his club side. What he provided in comfort on the ball in possession was cancelled out by defensive failures. Committed several egregious turnovers before coming off.

DF Matt Besler, 7 -- Solid positionally and saved the U.S. with emergency defending in important moments. Looked comfortable on the ball and helped relieve pressure with long runs out of the back.

DF Omar Gonzalez, 5 -- Shaky from the start and never really grew into the contest. A step slow reading attackers.

DF Michael Orozco, 6 -- Competent on both sides of the field over the course of a full 90-minute performance. Only ventured forward effectively once or twice. Provided one dangerous cross.

MF Julian Green, 7 -- Created the American's lone goal with his ability to cut inside and pressure defenders. Lively throughout despite struggling to find chemistry with Acosta behind him.

MF Sacha Kljestan, 8 -- A calm center in an otherwise messy midfield for the Americans. Secured possession and put his teammates into space.

MF Michael Bradley, 7 -- A mixed bag. Lacked sharpness with passing and provided poor set-piece service, but popped up on occasion to open up an attack or create a shot.

MF Perry Kitchen, 6 -- Seemed unclear on where he should be in relation to Bradley and Kljestan during most of the first half. More than once won a recovery only to immediately turn the ball back over.

MF DeAndre Yedlin, 6.5 -- Stretched the game with his speed and provided defensive cover. Misread passing movements more than a few times.

FW Jozy Altidore, 6 -- Good with hold up play. Physically battered all night, and allowed it to get into his head. Showed his quality and why he's needed at the front of the formation, but also failed to stay with his mark on the New Zealand goal.


GK David Bingham, 5 -- Will want the goal back, though the set-piece defending let him down. Looked otherwise confident.

MF Lynden Gooch, 7 -- Brought a spark in his first senior appearance and helped put the Americans back on the front foot for a period in the second half.

MF Danny Williams, N/R -- Solid, with one run and shot standing out in his half hour on the field.

FW Juan Agudelo, N/R -- Limited to a handful of touches, made very little impact.

FW Terrence Boyd, N/R -- Found himself with the ball at his feet in the dying moments, but was unable to convert.