Player Ratings: U.S. 3, Martinique 2

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By JACK HAZZARD

US logoThe United States followed its draw against Panama last Saturday with a win over tiny Martinique — in nail-biting fashion.

Coach Bruce Arena & Company had to scramble for the three points in their second group stage match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday night. The U.S. dominated most of the first half, but failed to score. After building a 2-0 lead, Martinique fought back to tie.

Arena juggled his lineup to get a look at nearly all the players on his 23-man group stage roster (all teams can add and subtract up to six players for the knockout stage).

The U.S is tied (on four points) at the top of the group with Panama, but holds a slight advantage with more goals scored ahead of the final group stage matches in Cleveland on Saturday.

Here are our player ratings:

Goalkeeper

Brad Guzan had a decent first half. The second half was awful. He allowed two weak goals and did little to help himself. It will be interesting to see if Arena gives Sean Johnson or Bill Hamid a start against Nicaragua.. Grade: C+

Defenders

Eric Lichaj has struggled to become a regular with the national team. His performance against Martinique did not hurt his chances but probably didn’t do enough. He did the assist for Jordan Morris‘ first goal. Grade: B

Omar Gonzalez scored the first goal from a second-half corner kick scramble. Apart from that, his inability to clear the ball or complete a pass led to multiple defensive errors. Grade: B-

Matt Hedges was inconsistent at center back. Last year’s Major League Soccer defender of the year did not impress with weak tackling and casual marking. He was beaten down the flank of Martinique’s second goal when he had the opportunity to kill the play. Grade: C+

Justin Morrow did not stand out or have an impact. Grade: C+

Midfielders

Kellyn Acosta needed of a strong performance after his subpar effort against Panama — and he did deliver. The young FC Dallas midfielder was at the heart of the U.S. attack, but was replaced early in the second half with tired legs. Grade: B+

Cristian Roldan, who chose to play for the U.S. rather than Guatemala or El Salvador, injects a bit of skill into the team. He’s young and promising, but among a glut in the midfield. Probably more of a prospect for the next cycle.. Grade: B

Paul Arriola ran his heart, but it wasn’t enough. The Xolos winger missed multiple chances on goal and missed lost his mark on first Martinique’s goal. Grade: C+

Gyasi Zardes continues to look out of place on the national team. His crosses and shots were decent but his positioning was not.  Grade: C

Forwards

Jordan Morris needed to remind Bruce Arena why he was one of the hottest young American products last year, and he did that against Martinique. Giving the U.S. the lead two times, Morris’ two goals made him the star of the night. Grade: A

Juan Agudelo did his best to try and score but was unable to capitalize on any of his many chances. Grade: B-

Substitutes

Alejandro Bedoya made an immediate impact early in the second half. The Philadelphia Union winger played a superb ball to right back Lichaj, who went on to set up Morris’ first goal. Grade: B

Chris Pontius made his first appearance for the national team in quite a while but wasn’t given enough time to do anything special. Grade: Incomplete

Dax McCarty subbed on too late in the second half to make an impact. Grade: Incomplete

Coach

Bruce Arena changed his lineup — only starting four players from the Panama game. Kicking the tires on nearly every player on the Gold Cup roster. Wonder what the reaction would have been had a guy named Klinsmann was still the coach after this performance? Grade: B